Ingram Blog

PLA 2020: Visit the Dark Side of Nashville

By Ann Lehue, MSIS, Senior Manager, Collection Development

Everyone knows about Nashville’s country music, its growing professional sports presence, and its place as a booming bachelorette party destination. Once a bachelorette falls off a pedal cart, you should take the opportunity to give it a try, although I usually like my drinking and exercise separate. Still, you’re not really in Nashville until you have a pedal-cart selfie.

The Nashville area also boasts a Best Small Town and Distinctive Destination designation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation with nearby Franklin, Tennessee, which provides a Franklin on Foot tour, including a Murder and Mayhem on Main Street Tour that includes everything from moonshining to murder.

For those of you who like your tourism a little on the dark side, Nashville also has its underside—the type of true crime featured in Brian Allison’s books, Murder & Mayhem in Nashville (book trailer) and Notorious Nashville: Scoundrels, Rogues and Outlaws. Brian Allison is world-famous here at Ingram because his mother, Rita Allison, handled the Nonfiction Standing Order Program customer service for many years until her recent retirement.

In Murder & Mayhem in Nashville, Allison explores the fascinating history behind the darker side of Nashville, a recent “It City” and one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. From Andrew Jackson’s violent duels, to the brutal lives of women in the brothels, to the gruesome Meadowbone Creek mass murder, this readable book covers the disturbing and unknown stories hidden beneath the bustling tourist industry’s music, bars, and hotels.

Allison writes an engaging and well-researched narrative that will hold the reader’s attention, whether a tourist, recent transplant, or that rare native Nashvillian. At times even poetic, Murder & Mayhem in Nashville deals with a sensational topic sensitively and with compassion and provides an important piece of history for a town often reduced to only country music and boots. A relatively gentle read for lovers of true crime.

Although Allison focuses on a variety of crimes over a long time period, author Michael Arntfield points out that Nashville was a haven for serial killers between 1975 and 2007 in his book Monster City: Murder, Music, and Mayhem in Nashville’s Dark Age. Retired homicide detective Pat Postiglione became famous by closing 55 open murders between 2005 and 2013, which is a record for cold cases solved. ( Arntfield attributes the high number of serial killers to a downturn in the local economy caused by American network television canceling country music variety shows in favor of coastal shows, along with Nashville’s location as a trucking hub and the number of criminals who prey on hopeful music stars. ( I moved to Nashville in 1989, and it is true that Nashville—especially downtown—was not a place to visit before the Titans arrived and downtown started being revitalized.  

If you have time during your visit, many true crime stories are featured in Nashville Ghost Tours. If you want to read more about Nashville’s criminal side in time for PLA, enter to win a set of Brian Allison’s books.

Welcome to Nashville and stay safe!