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Symposium: "The Rise of the Armchair Detective"

  • Monarch Tavern 12 Clinton Street Toronto, ON, M6J 2N8 Canada (map)


Moderated by author Naben Ruthnum (who writes crime stories under the pen name Nathan Ripley), this panel looks at non-law enforcement professionals who have taken it upon themselves to investigate – and sometimes solve! – ongoing and cold cases.

The panel will address whether true crime writers, documentarians, and podcasters play a similar supplemental role to traditional policing as the armchair detectives of fiction, to what degree internet methodology has replaced older techniques of detecting, the role of armchair detectives in bringing attention to marginalized victims that law enforcement and the traditional media often ignores, and will ask why we root for amateur detectives and the consequences of extra judicial investigation. What makes someone think to themselves, “The police haven’t solved that case in 20 years. Why don’t I give it a crack?”



A&E’s The Killing Season, Cropsey

Joshua Zeman has been at the forefront of the true crime genre for the past decade. His critically acclaimed horror documentary Cropsey, a critic’s pick with The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Roger Ebert, was called “one of the year’s best documentaries” and “one of the scariest films of the year” in 2011. Off the success of Cropsey, Zeman created Killer Legends for NBC Universal, an anthology series that examines true crimes that have inspired our scariest urban legends. Premiering as both the #1 downloaded documentary and horror film on iTunes in July of 2014, Killer Legends has since become one of the most watched true crime documentaries on both Netflix and Hulu.

As a narrative writer, Zeman received a MacDowell Colony Fellowship as well as the 2013 San Francisco Film Society Screenwriting Award for his screenplay, Collider. As a producer/co-producer, some of Zeman’s past credits include The Station Agent (Audience Award and Screenwriting Award, Sundance Film Festival), Mysterious Skin (Venice Film Festival, nominated for IFP Gotham Award), The Hawk Is Dying (Sundance Film Festival, Directors Fortnight, Cannes) and Against The Current (Sundance Film Festival). Zeman was also the recipient of the Sundance Creative Producing Fellowship.

Journalist, Author
PEOPLE Magazine, The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central

Christine Pelisek is the author of The Grim Sleeper, a true crime book about the police hunt for the most ruthless serial killer in Los Angeles’ history. She is also an award-winning journalist who has been covering crime for almost fifteen years. She is currently a senior writer for PEOPLE Magazine, and previously worked at LA Weekly where she broke the story about the Grim Sleeper serial killer.  She received a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles for her work on the case.

She has also covered national stories for The Daily Beast and 20/20. She’s been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Columbia Journalism Review, Ottawa Sun and has been interviewed as a crime expert by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Headline News and the Nancy Grace Show.

Author, Podcaster

Our Little SecretNotes on a Killing, Crime Writers On..., These Are Their Stories: the Law & Order Podcast 

Kevin Flynn—along with his wife Rebecca Lavoie—are the writing and podcasting team behind the hit podcast Crime Writers On... They have written five true crime books: Wicked Intentions, Our Little Secret, Legally Dead, Notes on a Killing, and Dark Heart. Their other podcasts include, hosted by Rebecca: HGTV and Me, Slate's Mom and Dad are Fighting, and Married with Podcast; and hosted by Kevin: These Are Their Stories: the Law & Order Podcast.

The Minds of Madness

Married couple Bek and Tyler Allen share a macabre pursuit. As co-hosts of the popular award-winning true crime podcast The Minds of Madness, they research, produce, and record episodes of investigative criminal events. What’s unique about The Minds of Madness is each episode’s inquiry into the psychological state of the crime’s perpetrator.


NABEN RUTHNUM won the Journey Prize for his short fiction, has been a National Post books columnist, and has written books and cultural criticism for the Globe and Mail, Hazlitt, and the Walrus. His crime fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Joyland, and his pseudonym Nathan Ripley's first novel Find You in the Dark debuted in 2018. Ruthnum lives in Toronto.


15% of ticket sales from this event will be donated to charity.