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Forensic fodder for a cyber sleuth

Crime does pay these days -- at least on television, anyway. Nielsens are sky high for whodunit shows such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “CSI” (all of them) and “Without a Trace.”

To capitalize on the public’s fascination with the underbelly of human nature, the Court TV-owned website www.crimelibrary.com caters to budding Gil Grissoms with its more than 600 nonfiction feature stories on murder, major crimes, killers and cops -- stretching from the Borgia crime family (who sired popes as well as royals beginning in the 14th century) to the recent Scott Peterson trial.

The meticulously researched chronicles provide journeys through the criminal mind. The Hannibal Lecter-like story of Albert Fish, for example, is a graphic retelling of how he lured, mutilated, killed and then dined on 15 children and abused about 100 others during the early 20th century in the New York area.

The site’s “Interactive Stories” area tests armchair forensic pathologists’ skills in profiling and psychology. Using real cases, visitors are posed questions at the end of each chapter and then rated on their investigative skills.

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Despite the grisly subject nature, the site’s disclaimer says that the online library “does not intend in any way to glorify crime or criminals” but to educate.

Whatever crimelibrary.com’s intentions may be, one thing’s perfectly clear: The site shows that real life is far more terrifying than anything Dick Wolf or Jerry Bruckheimer can conjure up.

-- Christine N. Ziemba


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