Friday, February 16, 2007

Boy Blue

I'm not much for true crime accounts. My dearly departed grandmother could get down on a murder book, sitting in her rocker, smoking, reading about torsos. For all my interest in bang-up crime novels, I can't ever quite get past the human factor in most true crime accounts, which often revel in a kind of tabloid glee about the horror of it all.

That said, I strongly encourage reading the cover story of this week's Philadelphia City Paper, edited by another great crime writer, Duane Swierczynski. Sarah Weinman is a writer that I admire, the first mystery columnist at Bookslut and a sharp contributor to both the publishing blog Galleycat and her own respectable Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind. Sarah has outdone herself with "Boy Missing," which chronicles the 50-year-old mystery of a poor dead kid in Philly who has never been identified. The piece is a hell of an article, utilizing Weinman's evolving writing talents and her education in forensics to great effect. But it's also poetic in illuminating the effect a single death can have on the people working the case and the community in which it occurs.

Heartbreaking stuff.