I’m happy to report that this week I met Shaker Heights police detectives to talk about a potential link between the unsolved murder of Lisa Pruett and the 1985 double-homicides of Philip and Dorothy Porter (the subject of my book, Little, Crazy Children.) The meeting went well and they are at least cracking open the old files for another look. Fingers crossed!
My new podcast, Syynth Sleuths, premieres January 23 on all podcast platforms. It’s the first true crime podcast to feature an A.I. cohost. Follow James and Sky as they contemplate the nature of consciousness and explore the world’s most confounding unsolved mysteries.
Come see me this fall!
September 2 – Bouchercon, San Diego!
September 11 – Rodman, Ohio Public Library 6:30 p.m.
September 27 – Willoughby-Eastlake, Ohio Public Library 7 p.m.
October 11 – Mogadore, Ohio Library 6 p.m.
October 17 – Castle Shannon, PA Public Library
November 4 – Wooster, Ohio: Buckeye Book Fair
November 5 – Akron, Ohio Comic Con 1 p.m.
November 6 – Mentor, Ohio Public Library – 6:30 p.m.
November 18 – Cincinnati, Ohio: Books by the Banks
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.
I’m touring the U.S. this year and probably stopping somewhere near you! So, come out and get a signed book and say hello!
July 3: Beachwood, Ohio Library 7 p.m.
July 15&16: Columbus Book Festival
July 18: Bookery, Manchester, NH 5 p.m.
August 1: Madison, Ohio Public Library 7 p.m.
August 14: Livonia, Michigan Public Library 6 p.m.
It’s a busy fall! Come see me if you can. Click on links for more info.
September 10: Savannah Crime Expo
September 24: Mentor Barnes & Noble 20th Anniversary: 1 p.m.
October 9: PNW True Crime festival
November 5: Buckeye Book Fair
How cool is this!?! The Porchlight Project is featured in the new edition of Kent State Magazine.
Renner put out a message on Facebook asking for help; it was answered by Alexa Doutt, a director of advancement at Kent State. The two met at a coffee shop in West Akron—and the idea of the Porchlight Project was born.
I’m the guest on this week’s episode of the Mile Higher Podcast. It was such a treat to get to meet Kendall, Josh, and Janelle in Denver and talk about developments in the Amy Mihaljevic case, Maura Murray, and little green men! Check it out!
I’m this week’s guest on The Murder Squad’s “Distractions” podcast. I talk to Paul Holes and Billy Jensen about Amy Mihaljevic, The Porchlight Project, and The Philosophy of Crime. Check it out here.