Slenderman is a perfect example of true crime writing at its best – throughout a detailed account of Waukesha’s Slenderman stabbing and years of legal fallout, Hale searches for the places where the legal system fails us and where we, as people, fail each other. What is justice, really, and how can it be better served? The facts of the case are not in dispute, though widely misreported. Case in point: the single crime’s only victim survived, yet the incident is still often known as the ‘Slenderman murders.’ And key elements were all but ignored by a tough-on-crime judge hellbent on trying the girls as adults according to an outdated, illogical Wisconsin law enacted out fear of the superpredator myth. The facts are: two 12-year-old girls, one suffering from severe early-onset schizophrenia and one with pathological attachment issues, misunderstood online YA horror fiction as reality and then plotted and attempted to murder their classmate. A native Wisconsinite with a sensitive and fact-oriented eye, Hale cuts through the slogans attached to the case (Internet Evil! Adult Crime, Adult Time!) to understand the ties between mental illness, Midwestern stoicism, violence, and reactionary impulses. It’s a horrible incident, yes, but Hale well makes the case for the necessity of talking honestly about hard things to shine some light into the dark.— Chris Lee
The Waukesha Slenderman stabbing, often mistakenly referred to as the ‘Slenderman Murders’, left many shocked and morbidly intrigued. Because the true facts of the case were blurred, fumbled, and outright ignored, the idea of two 12-year-old girls committing such a violent crime all in the name of an internet boogeyman is confusing and downright disconcerting. But that was never the full story. Kathleen Hale's telling of the tale is extremely comprehensive, well researched, and compellingly written. Told with facts and not sensationalism in mind, Slenderman is the best true crime book I've read in years. I was glued to the pages as Hale pulled back the layers of this complicated story, exploring the ways in which a young girl's ignored mental health crisis, backward judicial and mental health services systems, and Midwestern attitudes came together to create a truly tragic scenario. It's a hard story in which no one wins, but you'll have to decide for yourself if justice was served. Thankfully, Hale is willing to have that conversation. I haven't stopped thinking about this case or the three girls since I closed the book, leaving me to wonder, what does justice look like, and how we as a society can do better?— Parker Jensen
About the Author
Kathleen Hale a crime writer based in Los Angeles. Her reporting has been featured in Vanity Fair, among other outlets. Slenderman is her first true crime book.