It’s funny what you discover on less-traveled roads.
Several years ago, my wife and I were traveling across northern Louisiana. On a whim, I wanted to find a hidden but historic place: the isolated the spot where lawmen ambushed Bonnie and Clyde in 1934.
In the nearby village of Gibsland, we asked a fella how to get to the monument on a lonely rural road. He told us, but whether the directions were bad or we misunderstood, we couldn’t find the place. We returned to town and asked somebody else. The directions were different … but we still couldn’t find it. We finally succeeded on our third try, but by then the afternoon was banjaxed. I was frustrated.
“Wouldn’t it be much easier if instead of counting mailboxes and left-hand turns they just gave us GPS coordinates?” I spluttered.
In that instant, the CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE™ books were conceived! In seven books so far, we’ve covered thousands of miles, coast to coast. From Dealey Plaza and Ford’s Theater to the OK Corral and the Manson Family’s hideout—and a thousand creepy places between—we’ve learned a lot from standing precisely where some of our darkest history has happened.
A lot of history is hidden, especially crime history. It’s so well hidden that we often dash through life blissfully unaware that some of the most startling crimes in America happened right in our own backyards—sometimes literally. By harnessing the power of satellite navigation, I wanted to help fellow history and crime buffs discover something extraordinary in ordinary places—to show how surprisingly close we live to the darker side of American history.
Crime is part of history, part of who we are. So the history of crime is important to understanding our culture. And just like other historic sites where imagination, myth and history entangle, significant outlaw-related sites can also offer a glimpse beneath the surface of the present. As every traveler knows, visiting important—and sometimes forgotten—places can enlarge our understanding of history infinitely.
It’s impossible to visit the site of the Columbine mass-murder in Littleton, Colorado, and not be moved. It’s impossible to stand in Ford’s Theatre and not feel surrounded by ghosts. And it’s impossible to visit the crumbling site of the famous Chicken Ranch—“the best little whorehouse in Texas”—and not smile.
It’s especially true, too, of WildBlue Press’s new CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE™ TO THE OUTLAW SOUTHWEST. In it, crime buff’s will find a road map across Arizona and New Mexico to the real-life western adventures of legendary outlaws such as Billy the Kid, John Dillinger, and Bonnie & Clyde. But they’ll also learn how one of the world’s most fearsome Islamic terrorists was born in a little Southwestern college town, or one of the most ambitious financial scams of modern times arose from a fake UFO crash in the desert, and how a scary outlaw religious sect still thrives among us, just beyond the reach of the law.
In the small, overlooked tales like these, The Crime Buff’s Guides™ find the kind of human stories that make it all worthwhile.