First published in 1980, Victim was, and remains, a landmark turning point in the then-newly emerging victim's rights movement. When Gary Kinder (who would achieve even more fame and bestsellerdom in the 1990s with Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea) wrote this littérature vérité account of an execution-style bloodbath during an armed robbery, his emphasis on the victims' perspectives changed the true crime genre forever.
In 1974 two men walked into an Ogden, Utah, music store called the Hi-Fi Shop and took the manager and his assistant hostage while they methodically robbed the store. During the course of the robbery, three other people--16-year-old Cortney Naisbitt, his mother, and the father of the store's manager--walked in by chance and were also taken hostage. Before the end of the ordeal, the hostages would be forced to drink Drano ("It's some kind of German chemical that makes you sleep," one of the killers tells them), one of them would be repeatedly raped, another would have a pencil kicked into his ear with such force that it bulged out at his throat, and three of the hostages would die from close-range gunshot wounds. Naisbitt would effectively spend the rest of his life attempting to recover from brain damage, paralysis, and the loss of his mother, shot dead as she lay on the ground next to him. It's almost incidental to the story to note that the killers were quickly discovered and brought to justice before eventually garnering death sentences. Most of Victim is concerned with Cortney Naisbitt's second-by-second struggle to remain alive ("No Code," an ER physician writes on his chart, meaning no attempts to resuscitate him should he stop breathing), and the equally grim battle of his relatives to tape back together the ripped tapestry of their lives. Utterly compelling from first paragraph to last, this edition contains Kinder's 1990 update. --Tjames Madison [via]