When sixteen-year-old Sara Parcell goes missing, it’s an utter tragedy—and an entertaining national obsession—in this thoughtful and addictively readable novel that offers a fresh and provocative take on whodunits and true crime
Sara Parcell disappeared without a trace on a crisp April morning in Frederick, Maryland. Her tragic story was a national obsession and the centerpiece of a controversial television docuseries that followed her disappearance in real time. But is it possible that everyone missed the biggest secret of all?
Ten years after these events, the people who knew Sara best are finally ready to talk. In this genre-bending novel, Daniel Sweren-Becker fashions an oral history around the seemingly familiar crime of a teenage girl gone missing. Yet Kill Show, filled with diabolical twists and provocative social commentary, is no standard mystery. Through “interviews” with family members, neighbors, law enforcement, television executives, and a host of other compelling characters, Sweren-Becker constructs a riveting tale about one family’s tragedy—and Hollywood’s insatiable desire to exploit it.
By revealing the seedy underbelly of the true crime entertainment machine, Kill Show probes literary territory beyond the bounds of the standard whodunit; it’s a thoughtful exploration into America’s obsession with the mysteries, cold cases, and violent tales we turn to for comfort. Groundbreaking, fast-moving, and informed, this is a novel about who’s really responsible for the tragedies we love to consume.
Daniel Sweren-Becker is an author, a television writer, and a playwright living in Los Angeles. He graduated from Wesleyan University and received an MFA from New York University. His play Stress Positions premiered in New York City at the SoHo Playhouse, and he is the author of the novels The Ones and The Equals.
“Daniel Sweren-Becker’s Kill Show is both an entertaining mystery and a bracing examination of how true crime has warped real-life investigations. It’s also a provocative reminder of how people behave differently, and often disastrously, when they’re in the spotlight.” — Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review
“A truly modern morality play, in a unique and compelling style, that reflects on the uncomfortable connections between greed, ambition, and violence. Kill Show takes a sleepy, suburban town and turns it into a true-crime battlefield as events careen out of control. Smart, twisty, satisfying.” — Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author
"Riveting, original, and chillingly plausible, Kill Show is both an urgent reckoning with the ethics of true crime and a tense, twisty mystery in its own right. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough." — Flynn Berry, Edgar Award-Winning Author of Northern Spy
“Sweren-Becker tackles America’s obsession with true crime in this searing whodunit . . . . Nothing is as it seems in this wily mystery, and Sweren-Becker delivers a double twist that will leave readers shocked. His sharp plotting and expert understanding of true crime tropes elevate the proceedings from clever gimmick to slam-dunk. The latest in a long line of contemporary thrillers interrogating the public fascination with private tragedy, this scorching indictment stands out.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A fun, clever twist on our obsession with true crime. I loved it." — The Observer (London)
"With a unique and compelling narrative style, Kill Show is both a mystery and a reckoning of the 'siren song of true crime' that has us hooked like junkies craving our next fix. But at what cost? Absolutely unputdownable." — Amazon Best of the Month Pick
"Sweren-Becker succeeds in telling the story entirely through interviews, slowly revealing the truth about Sara’s disappearance. This is a fun, clever twist on our obsession with true crime. I loved it." — The Guardian (UK)
“Gripping . . . . Sweren-Becker has crafted a clever, fast-paced, utterly absorbing tale that feeds into audiences' fascination with true crime even as it explores the complex ramifications.” — Booklist (starred review)
“A swift, twisty read. Sweren-Becker’s tight plot and expert tension building makes for a searing tale that raises questions about public obsession and intervention without being too on the nose.” — The Seattle Times
"Kill Show's major plot mysteries are unguessable till the end and overshadowed by its conscientious characterisation. A lot of writers think they have something insightful to say about our toxic and exhilarating relationship with crime media. Sweren-Becker actually does." — Reviewing the Evidence
"Gripping . . . . So smartly written you will be sucked in . . . . There are so many twists it will leave you gasping." — Montecito Magazine
"The story of a missing girl that doubles as a critique of the burgeoning multimedia industry around true crime, Kill Show’s unexpected, genre-hopping premise is unlike any other thriller." — Paste Magazine
"In this ambitious, genre-bending little miracle of a novel, Daniel Sweren-Becker muses on the complex machinations lurking behind the rise in popularity of the true-crime genre and its exploitation from television producers—an issue raising timely moral questions and dilemmas . . . . Sweren-Becker’s take on the subject provides an explanation for the phenomenon while at the same time crafting a riveting story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. It is a rare book, combining cultural criticism and genuine entertainment." — The Big Thrill