About Jack

The award-winning author of thirty-three books, Jack Olsen’s books have published in fifteen countries and eleven languages. Olsen's journalism earned the National Headliners Award, Chicago Newspaper Guild's Page One Award, commendations from Columbia and Indiana Universities, the Washington State Governor's Award, the Scripps-Howard Award and other honors. He was listed in Who's Who in America since 1968 and in Who's Who in the World since 1987. The Philadelphia Inquirer described him as "an American treasure."

Olsen was described as "the dean of true crime authors" by the Washington Post and the New York Daily News and "the master of true crime" by the Detroit Free Press and Newsday. Publishers Weekly called him "the best true crime writer around." His studies of crime are required reading in university criminology courses and have been cited in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year. In a page-one review, the Times described his work as "a genuine contribution to criminology and journalism alike."

Olsen is a two-time winner in the Best Fact Crime category of the Mystery Writer’s of America, Edgar award.

Remembering Jack

Link to Seattle P-I Obituary
“Bainbridge Island writer Jack Olsen died of a heart attack Tuesday, in bed at home with a magazine resting on his chest.

“A perfect exit, except that at 77, he was getting better with every book.

“Mr. Olsen, a former Time magazine bureau chief and Sports Illustrated writer, had been in good health. His latest of 33 books was just a month from the stores, and he was enthusiastic about a memoir in the works....”
Gordy Holt, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Link to HistoryLink.org entry
“Jack Olsen was a respected journalist and prolific writer who pioneered the genre of "true crime." Olsen also wrote fiction and books about sports and social issues, but it was his true-crime writing that earned him national acclaim and readership. The Washington Post gave him the title of "dean of true-crime authors." Olsen preferred to be characterized as a hard-nosed reporter seeking the truth and getting it right....”

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Link to Michelle Malkin tribute
“Veteran crime journalist Jack Olsen jokingly called himself my "one lefty friend." For the past couple of years, we traded notes berating and cajoling each other. Well, mostly it was Olsen needling me. "O for Chrisakes, Michelle, lighten up," he wrote in response to a column I did on touchy-feely conflict resolution seminars in the public schools....”
Michelle Malkin

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A selection of Jack Olsen's work

Select a cover for details or purchase

Salt of the Earth
Night of the Grizzlies
Silence on Monte Sole
Aphrodite Desperate Mission
The Bridge at Chappaquiddick
Black is Best
The Climb Up to Hell
The Misbegotten Son
The Last Coyote
Give a Boy a Gun
Cold Kill
Have You Seen My Son?
Missing Persons
Night Watch
The Secret of Fire 5
The Man with the Candy


The Morning News Tribune

May 30, 1990

From the green, saltwater retreat of Bainbridge Island, the road runs 850 miles across I-90, then south on Wyoming 310 to the dusty, shadowy town of Lovell. Jack Olsen knows the way. He knows it by heart. He made 10 trips from the south end of Bainbridge Island to Lovell -- the droopy, demoralized Mormon enclave known as The Rose City of Wyoming....

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

May 2, 1993

The day after a particularly grisly murder-suicide of a geriatric couple in a fancy Rittenhouse Square high-rise, a burly, upwardly middle-aged man with a badly twitching face of a pug hears a police siren, sticks his head out his nearby hotel window, cranes his neck in curiosity and proclaims, "They're playing my song."...

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New York Times

March 14, 1993
Lynn Karpen

"I have always been a journalist and I've never been anything but a journalist," Jack Olsen declared during a telephone interview from Philadelphia, where he is currently on tour to promote "The Misbegotten Son." The author of more than 25 books ("I'm not sure how many; I've sort of lost track") on subjects ranging from bridge to boxing, he has always simply chosen whatever interested him to write about....

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Interview with Jack Olsen about his book Charmer

Q. What's "Charmer" about?

A. In one sense, a series of horrifying murders. In another sense, race. It's also a story about homicide detectives, their stumblings and bumblings, hard work and intelligence and dedication. Real detectives, not TV or mystery characters....

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Amazon.com talks to Jack Olsen

I began writing in desperation -- I kept flunking my engineering courses at the University of Pa. while getting straight A's in a subject entirely alien to me: English. Then a criminology professor took us on a field trip to a penitentiary and I discovered that the place was filled with guys who looked just like me....

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Point No Point

Winter 1998/99
Michael Hood

"The true crime genre is dead and I'll tell you why." Jack Olsen declares, holding forth on his favorite subject these days, the sorry state of writing and publishing non-fiction books....

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The Spokesman-Review

October 8, 2015
Carolyn Lamberson

From 1978 to 1981, more than 40 women were brutally assaulted on Spokane’s South Hill. Eventually, Kevin Coe (then known as Fred Coe) was convicted of some of the assaults. He served 25 years in prison and remains confined to the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. He has always maintained his innocence.

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