Gathering Evidence: Crime Fiction as Social Commentary

Room 2505AB, Kansas City Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, February 8, 2024
3:20 pm to 4:35 pm


To know a society, you must first understand its crimes. Crime fiction in its various forms, from thriller to noir to historical, endeavors to understand society through the exploration of criminality and our criminal justice system. Four accomplished authors discuss how they employ genre storytelling to expose truths about troubling aspects of American culture, past and present, as a means of raising awareness of social problems, generational trauma, and victims’ stories.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Questions_for_Gathering_Evidence__Crime_fiction_as_social_commentary.pdf



John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel Dodging and Burning won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, and his second novel The Savage Kind won the Lammy for Best LGBTQ Mystery. He teaches creative writing and literature at VCU and the low-residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is author of the novel Winter Counts (Ecco; S&S UK), winner of twelve awards and named a New York Times Editors' Choice, Indie Next Pick, and Book of the Month Club main selection. He is a MacDowell, Ucross, Ragdale, Sewanee, and Tin House fellow. davidweiden.com

Mindy Mejia’s thrillers have been translated into over twenty languages. Her books have been picked for People's Best New Books and listed in the Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries. A CPA and graduate of the Hamline University MFA program, she serves on the board of Mystery Writers of America.

James Han Mattson is the author of two novels, The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves and Reprieve. His third novel, The Grand Impostors, is forthcoming. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center