Chicago is a city built on contrasts and corruption. Glimmering high-rises and crumbling neighborhoods; a beautiful lakefront built atop smoldering landfills. Crime writer Marcus Sakey strides through the city with swagger to show us the crimes and criminals that make Chicago unique. First, he plots the story of John Dillinger, a public enemy with panache. He robbed "The Man" by stealing from the banks, but he'd tip his hat to the ladies and let them keep their wallets. Marcus goes to a shooting range to fire a Tommy gun like the one Dillinger used and feels the rush that kept Dillinger going. Next, he enters the mind of America's first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who used a hotel to capture and murder guests who came to the city for the 1893 World's Fair. Talking with a homicide detective, Marcus finds out that serial killers can often hide in plain sight - a shiver-producing thought. Finally, Marcus enmeshes himself in the notorious 1968 Democratic National Convention riots by engaging in both sides of the story - the police and the protestors' perspectives. He tries defensive baton training and talks with a policeman who was there to understand the cops perspective, then he gets maced and talks to one of the infamous Chicago Seven members to undergo what the protestors felt. There's two sides to every story and Marcus shows us both.
Marcus climbs aboard a stolen train that nearly changed the Civil War, meets witnesses of Mark Barton's mass shooting at 2 day-trading offices, and trains with SWAT to rescue Oscar Reynoso and take down drug cartels.
Boston is filled with saints and sinners. More than cobblestones and ivy, this historical melting pot has bred both mythical monsters and notorious mafia bosses. To understand how one of the FBI's Most Wanted was able to rule Boston - and evade the FBI - for decades, Marcus goes on the air with famed radio host Howie Carr before donning a disguise to attempt his own vanishing act inside Quincy Market. Then, Marcus sits down with noted Harvard professor, Dr. David Bernstein, to get inside the head of psychopath Albert DeSalvo, who went down in history as The Boston Strangler. But the DNA evidence revealed by forensic scientist James Starrs throws the true identity of the Strangler into question.
Marcus is on a mission to rediscover the period of Big Apple history that haunts him most—the Manhattan of the late 70s, when the city was going bankrupt, crime was out of control and epic characters strutted a warped stage.
Los Angeles is the epicenter of fame, image, and celebrity but some of those dreams turn into nightmares. Marcus investigates the shocking facts and myths that colored L.A.'s most notorious unsolved case, The Black Dahlia murder, a story of how the most unlikely of women became famous for the wrong reasons. He explores the crime through the eyes of an ex-L.A.P.D. cop, delves into the frenzy of media by stalking a celebrity with a paparazzo, and unearths the chilling theory of former homicide detective, Steve Hodel, who believes his father murdered Elizabeth Short. Marcus follows the legend of porn icon John Holmes through the director who discovered Holmes, Bob Chin, and current porn goddess, Kayden Kross, who knows the territory. And, he goes deep inside Holmes's psyche to uncover what thrust him into unbridled stardom, addiction, and possibly even murder. And the afterglow of the L.A. Riots still burns bright as Marcus gets perspective from the cops, business owners, and residents that were caught in the crossfire that lit up South Central in 1992.
Marcus examines the infamous murder of Harvey Milk, rides along with the San Jose police to uncover the fear and greed which created the Vigilance Committee during the gold rush, and gets inside the mind of the Zodiac killer.
Marcus goes to New Orleans to face down its demons, investigating 3 crimes from 3 different eras: the horrifying cruelties of Madame LaLaurie; the war of Mark Essex and the post-Katrina shootings at Danziger bridge.
Marcus explores the pirate Black Caesar, the story of Dutchy Melvin, learns techniques for surviving in the Everglades like killer Edgar Watson, and rides with the Coast Guard to see how drug smugglers are caught.
In Austin, Marcus visits a convicted killer to hear her side of a truly twisted and bizarre Texas murder, delves into the life and gruesome death of the most hated woman in America, and ponders fate as he explores the troubled mind of the 1966 UT Tower sniper.
It is the nerve center of America, the heart of government and the pulse of politics. It is a city sculpted out of marble, monuments, and history. But for every hallowed hall dedicated to truth and justice, there are dilapidated streets littered with poverty, crime, and corruption. It is a place people look to for wisdom and leadership, but it is also a place infused with murder, scandals, and lies. Marcus goes behind the façade of our nation's capitol to investigate three notorious crimes that have left their mark on Washington D.C. Marcus takes aim at the story of the Beltway Snipers, a pair of sociopaths who imposed their will on innocent people, killing at random and from afar. Marcus looks deep into the shadowy world of spies and the case of Robert Hanssen, a top FBI agent who betrayed his country for over two decades by selling deadly secrets to the Russians. Marcus delves into the world of spies and Hanssen's double life by talking to two men who knew him well, or thought they knew him. Marcus turns his focus to the shocking "rise and fall and rise again" career of Mayor Marion Barry. Marcus analyzes Barry's sordid history of accomplishments and addictions only to find a story of power and weakness, success and failure; a story that could only happen in Washington D.C.
Seattle is a town full of dreamers that nurtures the rise and fall of a genius. The death of Kurt Cobain is a mystery that obsesses fans, cops and conspiracy theorists. In the San Juan Islands, Colton Harris Moore committed over 80 thefts and burglaries. The surveillance video capturing him without shoes named him "The Barefoot Bandit" and through Facebook, he became a new folk hero. For over two years, he'd borrow boats and steal planes. Though eventually caught, everyone suspects this isn't the end of Colton's tale. In addition to speaking with those who know these stories intimately, Marcus attempts to understand these infamous men better by jamming with a grunge band, learning toxicology, and feeling the adrenaline rush of flying and landing a plane on his own. Renegade energy. This describes two men with different stories that share one thing; huge dreams with nothing to lose. Seattle is a place where the exceptional is possible.
Marcus hunts the ghost of Anchorage’s first police chief, tracks down the shocking evidence that brought down a truly dark monster, and shoots a bow to prove that hunting and poaching are two different things in the Alaskan wilderness.