Thursday, December 14, 2017
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.

I’ve 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, I’m 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 world’s 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 didn’t use his name). But how can we stop these things if we aren’t willing to unflinchingly analyze why they happen in the first place? Of course it’s about gun control. Why can we still get assault weapons in this country? But it’s 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 what’s 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
Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

The bubble gum pink-haired, shape-shifting witch Nymphadora Tonks from the last four Harry Potter films is headed to A Celebration of Harry Potter next month.Natalia Tena marks her first appearance at the annual wizarding world celebration Jan. 26-28...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

NightstandGinger ZeeZee, 36, is the chief meteorologist at ABC News. In her newly released memoir, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them, I Am One, the Rockford, Mich., native details her multiyear struggle with depression and her life in the limelight. "It...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Notable: 50 years ago

Notable: 50 years ago

Notable50 years agoThese three books document some of the events of the cultural watershed that was 1967.Ali: A Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Jonathan Eig is the first complete biography of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, who in 1967 refused to be dr...
Published: 12/14/17
Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

We live in the age of the hoax.Believe me.And if you don’t believe me, believe Kevin Young, author of the sometimes disturbing but always fascinating new book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.In it, Yo...
Published: 12/14/17
Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

You'll still have to pay the delivery fee, but the 10-piece McNuggets are free.
Published: 12/13/17
What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

MondaySEASON FINALE: The Gifted, 9 p.m., Fox: The team at Mutant HQ is divided on what to do next after Jace is forced to hand over something valuable to Dr. Campbell.Disney's Fairytale Weddings: Holiday Magic, 8 p.m., Freeform: A behind-the-scenes l...
Published: 12/11/17
This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

WINNERS: Tonya Harding The once disgraced Olympic figure skater is no longer on thin ice in the pop culture world. Harding joined Margot Robbie, who is playing her in the upcoming film I, Tonya, on the red carpet this week. While Harding pleaded g...
Published: 12/08/17

Book events: Victorian Christmas Event, Cheryl Hollon launch party

Book TalkCheryl Hollon (Etched in Tears) will appear at a launch party for the new book in her Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at Books at Park Place, 10468 Roosevelt Blvd. N, St. Petersburg.William Valentine (Cuban Charade) will s...
Published: 12/07/17
Mahaffey Theater cancels Garrison Keillor performance after sexual misconduct allegations

Mahaffey Theater cancels Garrison Keillor performance after sexual misconduct allegations

The Mahaffey Theater has canceled an upcoming performance by Garrison Keillor in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against the former host of A Prairie Home Companion.Keillor was to perform in St. Petersburg on Feb. 5, but the show's promo...
Published: 12/06/17
Review: History’s ‘Knightfall’ will please fans of epic history, popular culture

Review: History’s ‘Knightfall’ will please fans of epic history, popular culture

Sometimes a Templar Knight dies in your field and you have to return his master sword to the temple in Paris, because God's kingdom depends on it.All that happens to Parsifal (Bobby Shofield) in the first episode of History's new period drama Knightf...
Published: 12/06/17