Saturday, November 17, 2018
Books

We asked Ace Atkins, Tim Dorsey and Lisa Unger what true crime they would write about

Bestselling crime fiction writers Ace Atkins, Tim Dorsey and Lisa Unger, all featured authors at the Times Festival of Reading, have made use of real-life crimes in their novels to varying degrees. We asked them what crime they would write about if they wrote a nonfiction true crime book.

Colette Bancroft, Times book editor

Ace Atkins (Little White Lies, The Fallen) will appear on a panel with Lisa Unger, "Books and Bourbon," at noon in the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute Auditorium.

Iíve written four true crime novels and have long hoped to return to that kind of storytelling. Out of many of my ideas, and files I keep, Iím still obsessed with telling another Tampa story. I spent so many years putting together my novel White Shadow, which was the first novel about organized crime in Ybor City. That novel was supposed to be only a prequel to a book about the murder of Edy Parkhill in 1956 and the inquest that followed. I wrote a series of articles about her death when I was at the Tampa Tribune and already have done many mountains of research on the case. Many of the original players whom I interviewed are now dead. The story of Edy Parkhill brings to life Tampa and St. Pete in the 1950s: Old Florida, dirty cops, the mafia and dysfunctional, upstanding citizens who lived in nice, pleasant neighborhoods. Someday! I hope soon.

Tim Dorsey (Clownfish Blues) will speak at 11 a.m. in the Fish & Wildlife auditorium.

What happened to the missing stones in what was at the time the worldís largest gem heist, the 1964 break-in at the Museum of Natural History in New York?

Jack "Murph the Surf" Murphy and two friends pulled the job before returning to Miami. They were soon arrested and cooperated with authorities to retrieve the majority of the gems from associates in South Florida. But not all, including the Eagle Diamond, the largest ever mined in the United States.

I did a historical fiction account of this in my novel Cadillac Beach.

Lisa Unger (The Red Hunter) will appear on a panel with Ace Atkins, "Books and Bourbon," at noon in the Fish & Wildlife auditorium.

The whodunit of any given crime is of secondary interest to me. What obsesses me as a writer is: Why? What makes us who we are? What turns people into monsters? Is it nature or nurture or some impossibly complicated helix of both of those things? So when the shock and horror of the Las Vegas mass shooting settled in, I found myself with a deep need to understand how a 64-year-old man with no criminal record decided to kill 58 innocent people, harming 546 more.

Many might find this interest inappropriate, perhaps spending too much energy on the perpetrator, in essence giving a killer too much attention (notice how I didnít use his name). But how can we stop these things if we arenít willing to unflinchingly analyze why they happen in the first place? Of course itís about gun control. Why can we still get assault weapons in this country? But itís also about mental illness.

If I were to write a true crime book, it would be a study of the people who have perpetrated the most recent mass shootings in our country, digging deep into their histories, their associations, their various diagnoses and the points at which things might have gone differently. I have watched helpless, along with the rest of America, at the aftermath of innocent people in schools, in movie theaters, nightclubs and concerts losing their lives to the rages of psychopaths. Why are we so powerless to stop this? What are we missing? Monsters thrive in the dark. The only way to stop them is to shine a bright light and try to understand whatís there.

Times Festival of Reading

The annual event is Nov. 11 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 Seventh Ave. S. Ace Atkins, Tim Dorsey and Lisa Unger will be in the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute Auditorium, Atkins and Unger at noon, Dorsey at 11 a.m.

     
 
Comments
Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ debuts with biggest book tour ever

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ debuts with biggest book tour ever

The former first lady is talking about her memoir before sold-out audiences in unprecedented numbers, in venues usually filled by rock stars and pro sports.
Published: 11/16/18
Here’s a guide to the authors coming to the Times Festival of Reading

Here’s a guide to the authors coming to the Times Festival of Reading

Read interviews with the 2018 festival authors and reviews of their books.
Published: 11/16/18

Jose Andres cancels Festival of Reading appearance

The chef and author of 'We Fed an Island' will not appear Saturday.
Published: 11/15/18
Times baseball writer Marc Topkin talks about ‘Twenty Years of Rays Baseball’ book

Times baseball writer Marc Topkin talks about ‘Twenty Years of Rays Baseball’ book

Covering the team long before it played its first game gave him the background to become the Rays’ historian.
Published: 11/15/18
Tampa Bay comic book artists and fans react to Stan Lee’s death

Tampa Bay comic book artists and fans react to Stan Lee’s death

Tampa Bay is home to comic book industry professionals and fans — even a superhero — who were impacted by the Marvel icon and his work.
Published: 11/14/18
Poetry from Erica Dawson, Peter Meinke and other Festival of Reading authors

Poetry from Erica Dawson, Peter Meinke and other Festival of Reading authors

You can see the writers Nov. 17 at the Times Festival of Reading at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
Published: 11/09/18
Pulitzer Prize-winning 'The Gulf' an expansive history of an American sea

Pulitzer Prize-winning 'The Gulf' an expansive history of an American sea

Historian Jack E. Davis recounts thousands of years of natural and human history on the Gulf of Mexico. In this excerpt, he describes the devastating impact of 19th century plume hunting on Tampa Bay.
Published: 11/09/18
An excerpt from ‘Arthur Ashe: A Life’

An excerpt from ‘Arthur Ashe: A Life’

Raymond Arsenault spent nine years researching and writing the book.
Published: 11/09/18
Joyce Maynard’s memoir ‘The Best of Us’ chronicles love and death

Joyce Maynard’s memoir ‘The Best of Us’ chronicles love and death

The book is a moving account of how the bestselling author found love in her late 50s, then lost the man of her dreams to cancer.
Published: 11/09/18
Books for young readers from Banerjee, Frattino, Gibaldi and Koehler

Books for young readers from Banerjee, Frattino, Gibaldi and Koehler

Authors will discuss a YA novel about teens caught up in the drug trade, a graphic version of a beloved Florida story, a YA romance set in theater camp and a middle-grade adventure on an island of gar
Published: 11/09/18