Murder as public spectacle
If you want to understand the nature of murder and its resolution in U.S. inner cities, look no further than L.A. Times reporter Jill Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. Leovy embedded herself with detectives in one South Los Angeles precinct to discover the gloomy truth: When the government does not provide strong, centralized justice, people will take the law into their own hands … with tragic results.
Sexual assault, unpunished
With upwards of one in five women raped in their lifetimes, rape is much more common than most people realize, its most frequent victims college-aged women. So, why are so few sexual assaults ever reported to authorities? You will understand why after reading bestselling journalist Jon Krakauer's Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. This superbly researched account traces the ordeals of a cluster of young college women with the audacity to buck the good-old-boys system in search of justice.
A culture of shaming
And finally, what's up with the culture of public shaming that seems to be strangling popular culture, with shame-laced posts regularly going viral on Twitter and other social media sites? Jon Ronson (whom you'll recall from his quirky bestseller, The Psychopath Test) confronts this nasty epidemic in his engaging new book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed.