Michael Lista is an investigative journalist, essayist and poet in Toronto. He has worked as a book columnist for The National Post, and as the poetry editor of The Walrus. He is the author of three books: the poetry volumes Bloom and The Scarborough, and Strike Anywhere, a collection of his writing about literature, television and culture. His essays and investigative stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, The Walrus, Canadaland, and Toronto Life, where he is a contributing editor. He was the 2017 Margaret Laurence Fellow at Trent University and the winner of the 2020 National Magazine Awards for both Investigative Reporting and Long Form Feature Writing. His story “The Sting” is being adapted by Adam Perlman, Robert Downey Jr., and Team Downey into a television series for Apple TV+.

His fourth book, The Human Scale: Murder, Mischief and Other Selected Mayhems, is available now.


In his belief that crime reporting thrives the closer it moves to “the human scale”—where every uncovered secret reveals the truth of our obligations to each other—Michael Lista builds his compulsively readable narratives from details (fake flowers, a little girl’s necklace) others might pass over, details that provide a doorway into the ex- treme situations he is drawn to.

The Human Scale not only includes Lista’s most celebrated magazine stories, but comes with postscripts that describe his process in writing each piece, and the fallout from publication. Here is long-form jour- nalism in its most hallowed form: brilliant and bingeable.

“Michael Lista brings a poet’s heart and a philosopher’s eye to the darkest parts of human behaviour. The Human Scale is a brilliant collection by one of the best, and most astute, true crime chroniclers in the country.”
–Jana Pruden, author of Fear on the Family Farm

“Few journalists today have Michael Lista’s eye for the spectrum of shadow that haunts true crime. This is a must-read collection for any fan of the genre—just go to bed with a night-light on.”
–Harley Rustad, author of Lost in the Valley of Death: A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas

“In this addictive collection of crime journalism, Michael Lista combines a flair for detail, a strong moral compass, and an insatiable interest in what makes some people succumb to darker forces.”
-Robert Kolker, author of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family