By Robert Bao
The true crime genre may be relatively new, but it has been popular for centuries. Few literary criminologists today have been more prolific than R. Barri Flowers, ’77, M.S. ’80, who has published more than 60 books and three dozen short stories and accounted for several crime show episodes on television. His most recent book, Masters of True Crime (Prometheus Books, 2012), is an anthology of 17 riveting murder cases. Flowers, a 2006 inductee into the MSU Criminal Justice Wall of Fame, wrote one of the stories—the case of serial killer Donald Miller, a fellow criminal justice major at MSU. “It was eerily ironic to have a serial killer in our midst,” says Flowers, who was a freshman at MSU when Miller committed some of his crimes. Barri notes that people have been fascinated with true crime stories for centuries. “People were captivated and fascinated by true crime stories because they can get close to living their worst nightmares from a safe distance,” he says. “People are still writing about Jack the Ripper a century later.” A native of Detroit, Barri credits MSU with instilling his current passion. He cites Zolton Ferency and Ralph Turner as mentors—both were thesis advisors. “They gave me a lot of support and steered me in the right direction,” he says. He started writing about true crime with The Sex Slave Murders (1995) about Gerald and Charlene Gallego in Sacramento, CA, where he used to reside. This year, from his base in Oregon, he will publish six books—including a couple of mysteries set in Hawaii, a romance novel (Forever Sweethearts, about two MSU sweethearts who reunite 25 years later on a reality show), and a textbook (The Dynamics of Murder). Flowers also has a presence in social media via such outlets as Facebook and Twitter (his handle is @rbarriflowers).
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