Savage Appetites (Hardcover)
Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession
Scribner, 9781501188886, 256pp.
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (8/20/2019)
In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.
Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.
About the Author
Praise For Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession…
"In Savage Appetites, Rachel Monroe brings a rigorous and illuminating gaze to some of our most disturbing fascinations. Ultimately, she summons generosity and nuance for the discussion of hungers we might be tempted to dismiss entirely, asking revealing questions that are ultimately questions about the nature of desire itself: for intimacy, for freedom, for a sense of meaning. I read this book in a single day, but I know I’ll be thinking about it for years to come—especially its keen appreciation for the mystery of what drives us through this world."
—Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering
"Savage Appetites, Rachel Monroe's study on ‘women, crime and obsession,’ can properly be described as brilliant. It informs, entertains, and leaves readers with new cultural perspectives that are long overdue. I'm now a Rachel Monroe fan and after you read this book, you will be too."
—Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson and The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
“This is like high junk reading, both getting the information, snickering at the misinformation, stalking the stalkers and really brooding on the possibility that the dead female body at the top of the film is feeding a female appetite for death and malfeasance and not yawn more jerk off fodder for men. Our corpses, ourselves!”
—Eileen Myles, author of Evolution
"Rachel Monroe has long been one of my favorite writers at the intersection of crime and culture, and her first book, Savage Appetites, is the grand culmination of her reporting. It's a standout, formally inventive, and refreshing examination of the way we consume true crime, and the way it consumes us."
—Sarah Weinman, author of The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World
“I don’t know how Rachel Monroe wrote a book so vivid and perceptive, but I couldn’t put it down. Savage Appetites is an original: at once a thoughtful, beautifully written treatise on why women are drawn to crime stories and a gripping read to satisfy any murder obsessive. I’m not exaggerating when I say Monroe has written a new true crime classic, one that both adds to and challenges the genre.”
—Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls
"A deeply intelligent, intensely gripping work of metacrime. Rachel Monroe is a brilliant new journalist with a sparkly goth heart."
—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn
"A brilliant book, laced with a perspective that's long been missing from the world of true crime. Rachel Monroe holds up a mirror to our fascination with illicit tales—and her own—all while deftly unspooling four unforgettable stories from the other side. Savage Appetites is wholly unique and utterly riveting."
—Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind
"No one writes about crime like Rachel Monroe, who brings to her subject a profound emotional acuity, a piercing grasp of fixation and frailty, and a precise sort of beauty that never glamorizes but always illuminates. In Savage Appetites, she shows crime obsession to be an equally idiosyncratic, irresistible subject—full of treachery and full of thrills."
—Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror
"I loved this book. I'm not a true-crime fan, but I am fan of brilliant reporting, nuanced cultural criticism, sparkling-clear writing, disarming wit, and the kind of courageous self-indictment that marks the best personal writing. Savage Appetites is a beautiful hybrid of a book that made me question my relationship to celebrity, media, and my own baser appetites."
—Claire Dederer, author of Love and Trouble and Poser
“Savage Appetites is a marvel of original reportage and cultural criticism, and could not be more timely. Like a first responder to a crime scene, Rachel Monroe methodically investigates every inch of America’s obsession with murder stories, unearthing more than a few discoveries, and showing that what makes us tick now has been there all along.”
—Kate Bolick, author of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own