Fiction holds many pleasures, but sometimes it’s the true stories that are the most outlandish — like the story of a beloved public library that was deliberately burned to the ground or the bestselling debut novelist who scammed his way to literary fame.

Here, we share our most tantalising true crime sessions.


Anabel Hernández: A Massacre in Mexico, 2 May, 4.30pm

Investigative reporter Anabel Hernández risked her life securing access to internal documents and surveillance footage to write her gripping exposé that implicates the most powerful people in Mexico. A Massacre in Mexico is the definitive account of one of the country’s most shocking flashpoints: the kidnap and suspected murder of 43 student activists and the subsequent cover-up that stunned a nation. Annabel appears in conversation with ABC Radio’s Philip Clark.

Jill Abramson: Merchants of Truth, 2 May, 8pm

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth is one the year’s of the most anticipated books, billed as a definitive and in-the-room account by an ultimate insider of the battle between the titans of traditional media and upstart digital players. Drawing on revelatory access, Jill, the first woman editor of The New York Times, takes readers behind the scenes of four media titans – “maverick upstarts” Buzzfeed and VICE and the institutions of The New York Times and The Washington Post – during the most volatile years in news history. The Guardian called Jill’s account “a cracking, essential read … [Abramson] knows where most of the bodies are buried and is prepared to draw the reader a detailed map.” Following the book’s publication, Jill has been accused of factual errors and plagiarism – charges she refutes. In conversation with Guardian Australia’s Editor Lenore Taylor, Jill will reflect on how cherished journalistic principles are challenged in the age of clickbait, the criticism of Merchants of Truth, and how quality reporting can withstand a business model beholden to advertising and social media.

Susan Orlean: The Library Book, 3 May, 6.30pm

On the morning of 29 April 1986, someone set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying or damaging more than half a million books. In re-examining the unsolved mystery of one of the most catastrophic library fires in history, Susan Orlean’s The Library Book delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution. The author of The Orchid Thief (which was turned into the film Adaptation, in which Susan was played by Meryl Streep) sits down with Jennifer Byrne to discuss her thrilling saga.

 

Hedley Thomas: The Teacher’s Pet, 4 May, 10am

Join investigative reporter Hedley Thomas as he provides a behind-the-scenes account of his Gold Walkley Award–winning podcast The Teacher’s Pet, a global phenomenon with almost 30 million downloads. The Australian’s National Chief Correspondent shares the stage with Matthew Condon, unravelling the investigation, the police breakthrough and the latest developments in the case.

Ian Parker: The Talented Dan Mallory, 4 May, 10am

Earlier this year, New Yorker writer Ian Parker published his viral investigation into the lies and deceptions – involving sickness, death and fake collaborations – shadowing Dan Mallory, the book editor who penned the bestselling debut thriller The Woman in the Window under the pseudonym A.J. Finn. Ian talks with Walkley Award–winning journalist Malcolm Knox about piecing together his article, the relationship between truthfulness and fiction, and the uncomfortable questions Mallory’s ascent raises about the publishing industry. 

A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth, 5 May, 10am

Across the world, journalists are under greater threat than at any point in the last decade, with the rise of authoritarianism and internet censorship redoubling pressures on reporters. In conversation with ABC’s Sophie McNeill, three uniquely placed foreign writers and journalists share their perspectives on the struggles and costs of reporting the truth and exposing lies under corrupt and oppressive governments. Featuring Mexican reporter and author Anabel Hernández, Iraqi-American writer Dunya Mikhail and Turkish journalist and author Ece Temelkuran.