It’s here! My new true crime thriller, Little, Crazy Children is now available in hardback, audiobook, and Kindle, wherever books are sold!
For readers of Ann Rule and Gregg Olsen, a riveting new true crime book from the acclaimed author of True Crime Addict and creator/host of the podcasts True Crime This Week and The Philosophy of Crime, as he explores the unsolved murder of 16-year-old Lisa Pruett in the real life town of the bestselling novel Little Fires Everywhere for a painstakingly researched account of a senseless and heartbreaking tragedy and the people who were pulled into its aftermath.
In September of 1990, in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, sixteen-year-old Lisa Pruett, a poetry lover and member of a church youth group, was on her way to a midnight tryst with her boyfriend, when she was viciously stabbed to death only thirty feet from the boy’s home.
The murder cast a palpable gloom over the upscale community and sparked accusations, theories, and rumors among Lisa’s friends and peers. Together they wove a damning narrative that circled back to a likely suspect: “weird” high school outcast Kevin Young. Without a shred of evidence the teen was arrested, charged, and tried for the crime. His eventual acquittal didn’t squelch the anger and outrage among those who believed that Kevin got away with murder.
With a fresh perspective and painstaking research culled from police files, court records, transcripts, uncollected evidence, and new interviews, James Renner reconstructs the events leading up to and following that heartbreaking night. What emerges is a portrait of a community seething with dark undercurrents—its single-minded authorities, protective status-conscious parents, and the deeply peer-pressured teens within Lisa’s circle.
Who had the capacity for such unchecked violence? What monsters still lurk in the dark? After more than thirty years, questions like these continue to fester among the community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, still deeply scarred by wounds that remain hidden, unspoken, and unhealed.
Do you want to write a true crime book? Here’s everything you need to know to make it happen, from “Picking the perfect case” to “Marketing and Publicity.” Learn how to interview witnesses and the best ways to organize your work into a compelling narrative.
SHAKER HEIGHTS is a six-part true crime podcast miniseries, which places the listener beside police detectives as they investigate the 1990 unsolved murder of Lisa Pruett. Did the weird kid in school get away with murder or was he unwittingly set up by a group of teens?
This last year, I’ve been working hard to put together a new non-profit that can provide financial help and media attention to the families of the missing and murdered, focusing on cold cases in Ohio. I’m excited to announce that The Porchlight Project is here and our first case is the 1987 unsolved murder of Barbara Blatnik.
My new, little novel MUSE is officially out via Cemetery Dance. The story is set in 1960s New England, and follows a private investigator hired by a teenage girl to steal a box from the estate of H.P. Lovecraft. Signed hardbacks are limited to 750 copies. You can order yours here.
Do lie detectors really work? How do psychopaths convince other people to commit murder? What’s the deal with familial DNA? I explore these questions and more in Season Two of The Philosophy of Crime. All 6 episodes are now available everywhere you can find podcasts. Check it out!