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  • Writer's pictureChris Brewster

Love of history leads to new book by Watkins Glen writer

At age 5, Rikki Marcin wrote and illustrated her first book. Her first stab at publishing, at age 10, was unsuccessful.

Her second try met with better results – the Watkins Glen native’s book “Murder & Mayhem in the Finger Lakes” was published last September through Arcadia Publishing.

Marcin, the editor of The Watkins Review & Express and The Observer, found her book

found her book subjects through her jobs. “Part of my job consists of searching through newspapers from 150, 125, 100, 50 and 25 years ago for The Review's "From the Files" section,” said Marcin, who has degrees from Elmira College (BA in languages) and Binghamton University (MA in French Literature).

“Often I would encounter paragraphs about murders that took place in nearby counties, and my curiosity was piqued. I researched them in greater depth, and when I learned there were no publications on the subject of murders in the Finger Lakes, I considered the possibility of assembling a number of cases for a book.”

From there, Marcin reached out to the History Press, which has published a number of books on various local and regional history topics across the country, including – luckily – notorious murders. “In March 2019,” she said, “I submitted a chapter I'd written on George Crozier, the first person in Yates County to be sentenced to death. The acquisitions editor liked the idea and sent me a 10-page proposal to fill out.”

Though she started by writing fiction, Marcin’s interest in history has influenced her more recent work.

“I have always been interested in history, local and otherwise,” she said. “Though I started as a fiction writer, my recent writing projects have included topics such as the Davenport brothers (19th century mediums from Buffalo), Krampus, streaking, a translation of the surrealist French play ‘Victor, ou les Enfants au Pouvoir,’ and an unpublished manuscript on the McKinley assassination.”

Marcin is working on another collection of murders in the Finger Lakes, and said she hopes to start gathering those from the Southern Tier as well.

The current book, she said, points out how most murders aren’t committed by those we might expect.

“Our culture is so focused on serial killers; I think that it obscures the fact that most of these murderers are not deviants or monsters,” she said. “They’re people who found themselves in circumstances that spun out of control. They’re motivated by very relatable emotions such as jealousy and grudges that were held for years.”


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