Kiera Feldman is a reporter for The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund. She wrote “Grace in Broken Arrow” for This Land Press, which was featured on Longreads in May.

I’m of the belief that a good murder story should put you out of commission for a while. There is a storyworld to journey into, and it is a doozy. But most of what we get on a day-to-day basis is just cheap entertainment: lurid play-by-plays and gleeful reveling in the perpetrator’s villainy. In one of my favorite murder stories of 2012, Vanessa Veselka writes, ”It seems our profound fascination with serial killers is matched by an equally profound lack of interest in their victims.” The unifying theme of my 2012 picks is simply that these pieces honor the stories of the people who were wronged. 

1. “The Truck Stop Killer,” by Vanessa Veselka (GQ)

2. “A Daughter’s Revenge” by Robert Kolker (New York magazine)

3. “The Innocent Man” (parts I and II) by Pamela Colloff (Texas Monthly)

4. “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama” by Tom Junod (Esquire) 

5. “The Throwaways” by Sarah Stillman (The New Yorker)

Notable mentions

“The Hit Man’s Tale” by Nadya Labi (The New Yorker)

Delving into a murderer’s mind, not for kicks but for understanding

“After the Massacre” by Lee Hancock (Dart Society)

The long view of Fort Hood, as seen by both the victims’ families and the shooter’s family

“Los Tocayos Carlos” by James S. Liebman, Shawn Crowley, Andrew Markquart, Lauren Rosenberg, Lauren Gallo White, and Daniel Zharkovsky (Columbia Human Rights Law Review)

An anatomy of a wrongful execution

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012