Trials of Passion by Lisa Appignanesi is a dramatic narrative that details historically significant and famous crimes committed in the name of love and madness (available July 15, 2015).
Simpson, Anthony, Knox, Arias. This book is not about them, but it is. While it dissects four notorious murder trials, it’s not exactly a true crime book, but a deeper examination of the role that love and “insanity” and media have played in the way history’s sensational trials turned out.
The Simpson murder trial was called “the Trial of the Century” and it spawned Court TV, which morphed into TruTV, and it also introduced legal analyst Harvey Levin (co-founder of the site TMZ.com) to a wider audience. The media-murder connection is now so strong that it almost feels like a citizen should be able to fulfill his/her jury duty requirement by putting in a few hours in front of a television.
But not just any murder trial becomes a media sensation (some would say “circus”). Some trials are just plain sexier than others—literally. Would anyone outside of Mesa, Arizona have cared who killed salesman Travis Alexander if the woman convicted of his murder hadn’t stabbed him multiple (27-29) times, shot him in the head, and then slit his throat? But by the end of the penalty phase (Arias was sentenced to life in prison), anyone who watched the trial had an opinion about her guilt. Was she mad (in the sense of being insane) or was she simply bad? Trial watchers were not just viewers, they were participants. They were invested in the outcome.