The Best New True Crime Series – Small Towns: Book Review

An incredible and morbidly interesting, shocking anthology of small-town charm with deadly consequence, this is a 5-star read for all those interested in true crime.


We’ve been told that nothing bad happens in small towns. You can leave your doors unlocked and your windows wide open. We picture peaceful hamlets with a strong sense of community, where everyone knows each other. But what if this wholesome, idyllic image doesn’t always square with reality? Small towns might look and feel safe, but statistics show this isn’t really true.

Featuring murder stories, criminal case studies, and more, The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns offers all-new accounts from writers of true crime.

Edited by Mitzi Szereto.

I can confirm this book is aptly named

The stories aren’t just ‘based’ on true stories, but, if you google them (proceed at own risk), you’ll see they are completely factual. They vary in topics, but include cannibalism, shooting-sprees, violent robberies and mutilation. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading – I was often cringing/ pulling a disgusted face – but they are memorable and each story analyses further, so it’s not all doom and gloom (it is).

Szereto has pulled together a mix of international authors and spans many different countries. It’s a great insight, especially into how some countries have dealt with it (for example, a particularly interesting case which led to UK gun laws).

Each author had their own way of writing, and I loved the mix of this – every chapter was entirely different, with many contrasting writings, which allowed you to close the chapter on one story, and then start on the next. In one story, for example, they might make a clear timeline of what happened from the morning to the crime itself, or explain more about the person’s backstory, whereas others describe the towns in incredible detail, allowing you to envision every street and surroundings. Another provides excruciating amount of detail (very gross!).

They were all particularly interesting, and I can confirm this book is aptly named – it is the best new true crime series, and I’m here for it. Stories were often short, so remained quick-paced.

What I liked most was how every story reflected back to the town or person and often had a story analysis – there’s one particular story about a link to another crime which is so eye-opening and daunting in the same vein. They are dark, so perhaps not for the faint-hearted; when you’re thinking about it, and know they are real people and this actually happened, it’s not a light and ‘easy’ read, but it is informative and also helps people to remember the victims.

As these authors have all done extensive research, I would’ve perhaps liked some images which often go hand-in-hand with true crime books. There is a helpful ‘About the Contributors’ page at the back, which is great when it comes to extra reading.

I’m highly keen to read more by this editor – there’s a similar book with the same title, but on serial killers, and whilst there are a lot in the market, I particularly liked how this one was broken down into several stories with extra analysis, so you got multiple insights instead of just the common infamous cases.

As science has come a long way, it is reassuring in a sense that a lot of these crimes can now be stopped (this is what I need to tell myself so I don’t have nightmares), although you may not look at your neighbours the same.

A well-written, pulled together anthology and collection of short, true crime stories. Next, I need a book on cults.

The Best New True Crime Stories: Small Towns, Edited by: Mitzi Szereto, RRP £16.95 (hardback); Book Depository 

Pages: 249

Publisher: Mango Publishing

Genre: Anthology/ Non-Fiction

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