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While Idaho Slept

“A chilling, balanced, meticulously reported true crime story.” – Kirkus 

"Appelman’s fastidious attention to detail here is admirable, but what really sets this apart is his examination of the tension between Moscow police and the self-appointed investigators who descended on the town. The result is a propulsive real-life thriller with a conscience." — Publishers Weekly 

"This is an extremely rigorous book. A chilling, haunting work of crime nonfiction." — Booklist 

True-Crime Book

The Kill Jar

"The Kill Jar is a must-read... Appelman is an amazing writer who speaks with an eye so jaundiced that the pages are yellow by proxy. There is gutter poetry in this book. - New York Journal of Books

Children of the Snow
J. Reuben Appelman * on-camera investigator * Executive Producer * now on Hulu 

Jens Pulver: Driven 

J. Reuben Appelman * Writer * Producer * Now on AmaZon

Watch Official Trailer 

You're What I Want Wrong With Me

J. Reuben Appelman * Writer * Producer * Director 

Watch First Eight Minutes

In The Press


Appelman’s pathos is visceral and cathartic… his investigative work into this dark, twisted case is remarkably thorough and perceptive.

Thanks to the investigative work of author J. Reuben Appelman, the horrific crimes of the Oakland Child County Killer, who was never caught, won't be forgotten… the result is a book that not only provides compelling theories about what happened to these children, but an intriguing look into the author’s own history with violence.

J. Reuben Appelman spent what seems like a lifetime digging into the unsolved case of the Oakland County Child Killer…(the result) was worth it.

The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly

"The Kill Jar is a must-read…Appelman is an amazing writer who speaks with an eye so jaundiced that the pages are yellow by proxy. There is gutter poetry in this book."

New York Journal of Books


“Suspenseful and emotionally riveting, this is a true crime memoir mashup Serial fans will love.”

 “The Kill Jar is a powerful true crime memoir. Appelman is unrelenting both in his search for the truth about the Oakland County murders, and in his exploration of his own experiences with violence, abuse, and near abduction."

Crime Reads

“A horrifying and haunting tale.”


True Murder


J. Reuben Appelman onDon't Talk To Strangers
J. Reuben Appelman onTrue Murder
J. Reuben Appelman onTrue Crime Garage
J. Reuben Appelman onBoise State Public Radio


True-Crime writer J. Reuben Appelman

J. Reuben Appelman’s true-crime crime memoir, The Kill Jar, was published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster (2018) and was among the first of the new true-crime memoir genre. Published in all formats, The Kill Jar inspired the popular Hulu docuseries, “Children of the Snow” (2020), with Appelman serving as on-camera investigator and Executive Producer. The TV Series based on Appelman’s book has streamed tens of millions of times in America and abroad, and The Kill Jar was noted as among the best true-crime books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Elle, Oxygen, Bustle, Crime Reads, and the USA Today network of newspapers.

To write The Kill Jar, freshly chronicling Detroit’s most notorious, and officially unsolved, serial killer case, Appelman meticulously studied thousands of pages of local, state, and FBI case documents, including previously private witness statements, autopsy reports, catalogs of evidence, crime scene photos, interrogation transcription, polygraph results, and personal correspondences and interviews highlighted within piles of bankers boxers obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. He conducted hundreds of interviews and built relationships and correspondences with original task force members. Appelman also worked closely with surviving family members of the victims, one of whom wrote the foreword to The Kill Jar.

Appelman has also written for a variety of successful film projects, including the Netflix-streamed documentaries, Jens Pulver | Driven and Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America, produced by George Clooney, Steven Soderberg, and Abigail Disney and now used as a tool for law enforcement studying the commercialized sex industry. Appelman’s scholarly research and practical experience in the field have earned him a multi-year guest lectureship on the issue of Human Trafficking for the Honor’s College at Boise State University, where he received his MFA. He has published across all genres, is a two-time State of Idaho Literature Fellow, and has been labeled a “full-grown oracle of language” by National Public Radio literary critic, Andrei Codrescu. 

Appelman's latest book, While Idaho Slept, tells the horrific story of the University of Idaho murders that gripped the world's attention from Moscow, Idaho in November of 2022.

Appelman spent five years working as a rigidly vetted fraud investigator, packaging felony-level referrals for prosecution in the states of Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada. A native Detroiter, he currently works as a private investigator from his base in Boise, Idaho, where he has lived for almost 25 years. 

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