Listen, I love a good true crime story. But if I'm being honest, the violence wears on me. Sometimes I want to read a wild, stranger-than-fiction story but I don't want to hear about the horrible deaths of innocent victims. I felt guilty for enjoying these stories that are about grisly murders and violence, not to mention the fact that I started checking my patio and closet for murderers every night before bed. It wasn't until a friend suggested I watch Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, that I really got deep into the other side of true crime: frauds, scams, and white-collar crime. It's true crime with none of the guilt, which is why I call it Vegan True Crime.
Here's a selection of my favorite Vegan True Crime titles that have all the thrills and the "can you believe this?!", but none of the blood and gore.
Most people think of white-collar crime as boring crimes that you need an MBA to understand. While some of that’s true, there are also more relatable stories of outlandish schemes. Some of these stories are so ridiculous that you have to laugh, like the story of Sir Gregor MacGregor. He was a Scottish man who tried to start his own country in Central America in the 1820s. I may not know what oil futures are (and at this point, I'm afraid to ask) but I definitely know you can't just declare yourself the "Cazique of Poyais" and expect to be the king of a made-up Central American nation.
This one is a more complex story, but is also a piece of Houston history. The Smartest Guys in the Room is a character-driven, meticulously researched novel that takes a deep dive behind the closed doors and private meetings of Enron's top executives. It's a story of greed, arrogance, and lies, which makes it a perfect human drama to fascinate any reader.
Most recently featured in the Netflix docuseries This Is a Robbery, the $500 million Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum heist is the most infamous art theft in history. The heist remains officially unsolved, but journalist Stephan Kurkjian presents a theory 20 years in the making. He outlines his definitive account and presents evidence for his theory that the theft was the brainchild of a well-known master thief with the help of a Boston mobster. Follow the twists and turns of the heist, the investigation, and an illuminating look into Boston's underworld in this compelling book.
If you'd like to read more about the ridiculous, the corrupt, the forgers, the hucksters, and the fake German heiresses, try these books!
This blog was written by Nicole H. and first appeared in June 2021.