"True Crime" Storytelling

Our guests today are the co-authors of an engrossing new book that blends true crime, memoir, and investigative reportage. Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan join us to talk about "The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer." This book details the life of a neglected young girl growing up in the Cape Cod region of the late 1960s, revealing in particular how she developed a friendship with her charismatic yet off-beat babysitter -- a man who, as she learned years later, was actually a serial killer.

Our guest is the true-crime writer Jax Miller, who joins us to discuss her new book. "Hell in the Heartland" documents a stranger-than-fiction cold case from rural Oklahoma that has stumped authorities for some two decades. The book is called "Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls." As was noted by Library Journal: "True crime fans who are fascinated by the dark side of rural life and police incompetence, and open to a somewhat ambiguous ending, will find much to savor."

Our guest is the Tulsa-based author Hunter Howe Cates, who tells us about his new book, "Oklahoma's Atticus." It's a work of biography/history that profiles his own grandfather, Tulsa County public defender and Creek tribal member Elliott Howe. Howe, as we learn, was closely involved in the investigation and trial of a Tulsa murder case that made national news back in the early 1950s. On Nov. 7th, Cates will do a free-to-the-public reading and signing in connection with this work at Magic City Books.

Our guests are the father and son team of John and Denver Nicks, who join us to duscuss their newly published, co-written book, "Conviction: The Murder Trial That Powered Thurgood Marshall's Fight for Civil Rights." This book tells the true and shocking but little-remembered story of a triple murder that happened in 1939 near Hugo, Oklahoma. An African-American farm-hand named W.D. Lyons was wrongly accused of this crime, and his lawyer was one Thurgood Marshall, who was then a young counsel with the NAACP's newly created Legal Defense and Education Fund.

On this edition of ST, we speak with Jayne Anne Phillips, the acclaimed fiction writer whose previous books include "Black Tickets," "Machine Dreams," and "Lark and Termite." In her newest book, just out in paperback, Phillips both explores and re-imagines a real crime that occurred in 1931, in a West Virginia town not far from where she herself grew up. Phillips tells us of this novel -- called "Quiet Dell" -- on today's program.