Whether called Urban Legends, Urban Myths or Contemporary Legends, they are a form of modern folklore, usually fiction, with a scary or ill omened content, much centred in popular culture. They are often used to explain, on a half-serious fashion, some random or strange event, such as a disappearance. An Urban Myth always happened to 'a friend of a friend', so they are sometimes called FOAFs.
Urban Myths often reflect current circumstances or concerns. One of the most popular recent Urban Myths is the one about people who are abducted, anaesthetized and wake up missing a kidney. They are supposed to have been operated on, the kidney being surgically removed for an illegal transplant, often for a dying millionaire who can't wait any longer.
Many of these Urban Myths are integrated stories, complete with plot and characters. One of the main attractions of a typical Urban Myth is its air of mystery, fear, or horror. They also serve as cautioning stories or moral instructions for a child as they depict a person doing something wrong or unsociable, and then suffering for it, by being in trouble or hurt. And sometimes dead.
Some Urban Myths seem to have their origin in true stories which can be identified. Stories of "Death Cars", "The Hook" and others appear to have arisen following some incident with a similarity to the Myth in real life.
Some persistent Urban Myths attain a grain of truth or plausibility. One of those that has lasted a very long time is the tale of a crazed serial killer hiding in the back seat of the car one forgot to lock. It seems like it just might be possible. How would you like to get into your car and see the view shown on the cover of this book?