An unforgettable, thrilling look at the life of a private investigator working to uncover evidence for a historic case.
Good to know
Part memoir and part literary true crime, Tell Me Everything is the mesmerizing story of a landmark sexual assault investigation and the female private investigator who helped crack it open.
Erika Krouse has one of those faces. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” people say, spilling confessions. In fall 2002, Erika accepts a new contract job investigating lawsuits as a private investigator. The role seems perfect for her, but she quickly realizes she has no idea what she’s doing. Then a lawyer named Grayson assigns her to investigate a sexual assault, a college student who was attacked by football players and recruits at a party a year earlier. Erika knows she should turn the assignment down. Her own history with sexual violence makes it all too personal. But she takes the job anyway, inspired by Grayson’s conviction that he could help change things forever. And maybe she could, too.
Over the next five years, Erika learns everything she can about P. I. technique, tracking down witnesses and investigating a culture of sexual assault and harassment ingrained in the university’s football program. But as the investigation grows into a national scandal and a historic civil rights case, Erika finds herself increasingly consumed. When the case and her life both implode at the same time, Erika must figure out how to help win the case without losing herself.
Why I love it
Author, Notes on a Silencing
Imagine a heart-stopping true crime story. Assume multiple victims and villains behind villains, all in thrall to a powerful organization that abuses women to stay on top. Now imagine that the storyteller can’t maintain the psychological distance authors usually do, narrating from a place of safety—not only because she is a crime victim herself, but also because she’s the unlikely private investigator whose conversations are, secret by secret, exposing evil.
Erika Krouse was an award-winning fiction writer at the top of her game when she was hired by a lawyer in her Colorado town. Within months, she burrowed into the network of perpetrators and enablers who made up the unimaginably dark side of the local university’s Division 1 football team. Predicated on “showing [the recruits] a good time,” this culture preyed on young women and was guarded by men more powerful than Krouse could have dreamed.
Krouse tracks both the drama of the PI cat-and-mouse game and the internal reckoning of her own experience of childhood sexual assault. The reader learns about her private struggle, but to her witnesses, she’s a cipher; she’s a genius. She’s your best friend. “I became a private investigator because of my face,” she writes. “It’s an ordinary face, but if I ask, ‘How are you?’ sometimes people start crying.”
Oh, I cried reading Tell Me Everything. I also cheered. Because this story, unlike so many true crime tales, has a happy ending. It’s a pure triumph of investigation, narration, intelligence, and heart.