Just shy of twenty years ago, the murder of JonBenét Ramsey captivated Americans. It had all the elements of a perfect thriller: a couple, a captivating child, an affluent community, misguided law enforcement. And like other crimes that came before it — the O.J. Simpson trial, the slayings of violent mothers like Susan Smith, or the atrocities of Lorena Bobbitt — the Ramsey case was everywhere in the '90s. Fodder for conspiracy theories and epic investigations, now the unsolved murder of the original toddler in a tiara is the subject of a new A&E documentary, The Killing of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered , that is bound to reawaken old conversations.
Now you can listen to John Ramsey's take on the media's sensationalist fascination with the crime, and you can read the transcript of the Boulder District Attorney's apology to JonBenét's parents. You can watch an interview with JonBenét's brother, Burke. But you can also read any number of books about the unsolved crime, and as we readers know, there's nothing like a nonfiction novel to really sink into a subject.
No, these books may not be totally au courant, but isn't that one of the peculiar joys of true crime? Even if the information has been updated, these 7 titles are bound to satisfy at least some of your morbid curiosity.
1. Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: The Uncensored Story of the JonBenet Murder and the Grand Jury's Search for the Truth by Lawrence Schiller
If you want to exhaust your appetite for the Ramsey case in one shot, Schiller's 800 page epic— from 1999 — could fit the bill. Certain to bring you back, especially if you followed the case in the '90s, this book goes into such great detail you may find yourself taking notes.
2. Who Killed JonBenét Ramsey? by Charles Bosworth, Jr.
Before the Internet gave us immediate behind-the-scenes access to procedural documents, there were books like this one. Bosworth's writing is a bit dry, but the insights from forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, about the autopsy report are chilling.
3. Foreign Faction - Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet? by A. James Kolar
Kolar, a former chief investigator with the Boulder District Attorney's office, is both factual and humane in his account of JonBenét's killing. If you're looking for extra-textual Kolar perspectives, check out his AMA on Reddit.
4. The Other Side of Suffering: The Father of JonBenet Ramsey Tells the Story of His Journey from Grief to Grace by John Ramsey with Marie Chapian
If true crime isn't your jam and you find yourself beyond sympathizing with John Ramsey, this book is for you. Definitely spiritual, Ramsey's memoir shows how one man has survived tragedies of a magnitude many of us could never imagine. But survival is the key: Ramsey's message is one of hope and faith.
5. An Evening with JonBenét Ramsey by Walter A. Davis
A play and two analytical essays, Davis's book is both drama and cultural critique. The American philosopher, critic, and dramatist envisions how JonBenét's life would've unfolded — should those horrific events of 1996 not taken place.
6. The Death Of Innocence by Pat and John Ramsey
The subtitle says it all.
7. JonBenét: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation by Steve Thomas
One of the many tragedies of the JonBenét case was how the Boulder DA mismanaged the investigation. Thomas, a detective who attempted to make sense of the mess, exposes the mismanagement and raises some shocking questions.
Images: CBS Corporation