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Best True Crime Books

Uncover the most compelling true crime stories with this list, featuring the genre's best books as frequently recognized by authoritative crime literature critics and enthusiasts.

Recommendations from 66 articles, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, John Legend and 98 others.
Best True Crime Books
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In Cold Blood book cover
In Cold Blood
Truman Capote - 1994-02-01 (first published in 1959)
Goodreads Rating
This gripping nonfiction book explores the brutal murder of a Kansas family and the subsequent investigation, trial, and execution of the killers. With meticulous detail and astounding empathy, Truman Capote reconstructs the events and personalities surrounding the crime, including the truly chilling young killers. In Cold Blood is a masterful example of literary journalism that will leave readers breathless.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark book cover
I'll Be Gone in the Dark
One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Michelle McNamara - 2018-02-27
Goodreads Rating
This true crime book delves into the haunting story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s. Written by a gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case, I'll Be Gone in the Dark offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. A modern true crime classic hailed for its originality and compelling narrative.
Recommended by
Mara Wilson
Helter Skelter book cover
Helter Skelter
The True Story of the Manson Murders
Vincent Bugliosi - 2001-12-17 (first published in 1974)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the shocking and disturbing case of Charles Manson and his followers in a book written by the prosecuting attorney of the trial. Discover what motivated Manson's cold-blooded selection of victims and his terrifying hold over his followers, particularly the young women who carried out his orders. This harrowing true crime story is accompanied by 50 pages of black and white photographs.
Columbine book cover
Dave Cullen - 2009-04-06
Goodreads Rating
A haunting and urgent investigation into one of America's most notorious crimes, Columbine. The author, Dave Cullen, was one of the first reporters on the scene and spent ten years meticulously researching and debunking the myths surrounding the tragedy. Through interviews with leading forensic psychologists and the killers' own writings, Cullen paints raw and unforgettable portraits of the polar opposite killers and explores the false script that sparked a generation of "spectacle murders." A must-read for anyone seeking to understand the American psyche and the imperative to prevent future atrocities.
Killers of the Flower Moon book cover
Killers of the Flower Moon
Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI
David Grann - 2023-10-10 (first published in 2017)
Goodreads Rating
Discover a real-life murder mystery that unravels perhaps one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history. Learn about the Osage Indian Nation, the richest people per capita in the world during the 1920s, and how their newfound wealth through oil discovery led to the murder of their own people under mysterious circumstances. Follow the case as the newly-created FBI tries to solve the case, despite being notoriously corrupt at the time, and how a former Texas Ranger helps them uncover the truth. This non-fiction thriller showcases the dark side of the Wild West where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror” roamed.
The Stranger Beside Me book cover
The Stranger Beside Me
The Inside Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy (New Edition)
Ann Rule - 2001-06-01 (first published in 1980)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the twisted mind of one of America's most notorious serial killers through the eyes of someone who knew him well. Written by a true crime writer and former Seattle police officer, this book tells the chilling story of Ted Bundy, a man who appeared to have it all but was hiding a demonic double life. This gripping page-turner takes you on a journey through Bundy's crimes, his magnetic charm, and his disturbing behavior. Recommended by true crime podcasters and perfect for fans of the Netflix documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.
Mindhunter book cover
Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit
John E. Douglas - 1996-08-01 (first published in 1995)
Goodreads Rating
Delve into the minds of some of the most notorious serial killers and assassins of our time with this captivating true crime book. Written by a retired Special Agent who interviewed the likes of Charles Manson, Richard Speck, and John Wayne Gacy, this book offers a landmark study on the motives of these individuals. Learn how John Douglas's work in behavioral science and criminal profiling ushered in a new era of law enforcement.
The Devil in the White City book cover
The Devil in the White City
Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Erik Larson - 2003-02-11
Goodreads Rating
Discover the thrilling story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in 'The Devil in the White City.' Author Erik Larson brings to life the extraordinary events surrounding the fair and the two men at its center: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect behind the construction of the "White City," and H.H. Holmes, a notorious serial killer who used the event to lure victims to his gruesome World's Fair Hotel. Larson's skilled storytelling interweaves the tales of these two men, showcasing the incredible successes and sinister secrets of 19th-century Chicago.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil book cover
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
A Savannah Story
John Berendt - 1999-06-28 (first published in 1994)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the mystery and intrigue of Savannah, Georgia in this modern classic. When shots were fired in the city's grandest mansion on a misty morning in 1981, it set off a chain of events that would reverberate for years to come. John Berendt skillfully weaves together a fascinating first-person account of Savannah's unique culture with the twists and turns of a landmark murder case. Meet a colorful cast of characters, from Southern belles to drag queens to con artists, and discover the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
The Fact of a Body book cover
The Fact of a Body
A Murder and a Memoir
Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich - 2017-05-16
Goodreads Rating
The Fact of a Body is a gripping and thought-provoking book that explores the nature of crime and forgiveness. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is forced to confront her own past when working at a law firm defending a convicted murderer. The book delves into the complicated nuances of a single narrative and the power of personal histories. A heart-stopping work that will challenge your beliefs on the law and the truth.
The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
My Dark Places by James Ellroy
The Innocent Man by John Grisham
Lost Girls by Robert Kolker
American Predator by Maureen Callahan
Zodiac by RM Graysmith
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn
The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber
American Fire by Monica Hesse
People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman
The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm
Down City by Leah Carroll
Homicide by David Simon
Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt
The Demon of Unrest by Erik Larson
Furious Hours by Casey Cep
The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson
Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar
Unbelievable by T. Christian Miller
Missoula by Jon Krakauer
Party Monster by James St. James
Ghettoside by Jill Leovy
If You Tell by Gregg Olsen
Midnight in Mexico by Alfredo Corchado
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth
The Lazarus Files by Matthew McGough
Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule
The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
Adnan's Story by Rabia Chaudry
Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss
Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
The Mastermind by Evan Ratliff
American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin
Last Call by Elon Green
The Grim Sleeper by Christine Pelisek
The Michigan Murders by Edward Keyes
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
The Brothers by Masha Gessen
Truevine by Beth Macy
Burned by Edward Humes
The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
She Said by Jodi Kantor
Dreamland by Sam Quinones
The Ice Man by Philip Carlo
Unmasked by Paul Holes
Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff
Evidence of Love by John Bloom
The Forever Witness by Edward Humes
Beneath a Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King
The Skies Belong to Us by Brendan I. Koerner
While the City Slept by Eli Sanders
Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule
The Other Side by Lacy M. Johnson
Happy Like Murderers by Gordon Burn
Killer on the Road by Ginger Strand
Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth
Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson
Who Killed These Girls? by Beverly Lowry
All the President's Men by Bob Woodward
For the Thrill of It by Simon Baatz
The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale
The Dead Girl by Melanie Thernstrom
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Red Notice by Bill Browder
Hope by Amanda Berry
Billion Dollar Whale by Bradley Hope
Papillon by Henri Charriere
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
The Phantom Prince by Elizabeth Kendall
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
Manhunt by James L. Swanson
Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale