In her book The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts, Laura Tillman examines the lasting effects of a deeply troubling crime—the brutal murder of three young children by their parents in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. Over six years, Tillman surveyed those surrounding the crimes, speaking with the lawyers who tried the case, the family’s neighbors, relatives and teachers, as well as one of the murderers: John Allen Rubio, whom she corresponded with for years. Over the course of their correspondence, Tillman wrestled with a series of tough questions: In the pursuit of a story, what constitutes manipulation? Is some degree of manipulation in this context inevitable? Is it wrong for a murderer to be gratified by the result?