Ellen Wayland-Smith is associate professor of Writing at The University of Southern California. She is the author of Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table (Picador, 2016) and a forthcoming cultural history of women and advertising during the Cold War. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Signature Reads, Catapult, The Millions, and Longreads. @EllenWaylands
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksMonroe’s ostensible aim is to unpack women’s peculiar relationship to, and fascination with, true crime. Yet the scope of Savage Appetites is actually much more wide-ranging ... Savage Appetites becomes, in its own way, a neat piece of detective work: Monroe unearths what has to be buried in American crime storytelling in order to produce tales that are easy to consume and guaranteed to turn a profit, both economic and emotional ... Monroe’s deeper gift is teasing out how these personal tales of obsession and grief intersect with, and are fueled by, larger cultural narratives ... Monroe’s analysis is always nuanced, never polemical. She is far from castigating the victims’ rights movement and its founders, including Doris Tate. On the contrary, she portrays them with deep empathy ... Monroe does not exempt herself from the seductive lure of the dead white girl trope either. Popular crime narratives, in order to gain their hypnotic force, exploit their audience’s blind spots. In Savage Appetites, Monroe has her eyes wide open.