The true crime genre has never been hotter. If you’re like me, your podcast playlist is filled with the hottest true crime shows and you set your DVR to record every single episode of Dateline, Forensics Files and anything on the ID channel and watch only after making sure that all the doors are locked. Whether you’re fascinated by how the criminal mind works or with the impressive advancements of forensics that makes it nearly impossible to get away with anything, you’re going to love this reading list. We’ve gathered up the newest true crime books guaranteed to keep you up at night!
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
There’s no way you could have escaped hearing about this one in the news. Michelle McNamara worked tirelessly for years hoping to help to solve the mystery surrounding the Golden State Killer, a name she gave the killer who terrorized Northern California residents for over 10 years. The book is filled with tragedy – that of the families who lost their loved ones to this prolific and private killer as well as McNamara’s own tragedy as she passed away before completing the book. Her lead researcher took over the process when she died making sure her life’s work did not go unnoticed. Did McNamara’s book help solve the GSK case? You’ll have to decide that for yourself.
American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
There’s no murder or missing people in this tangled tale, but there is a lot of mystery, misconception and a hint of a love story. American Fire uncovers the mystery behind over 60 fires set in Accomack County, a tight-knit community in Virginia that had been hit hard by the recession. Hesse, known for her stunning writing with The Washington Post, weaves the tale of this town’s terror via firefighters and investigators, where neighbors morphed from decidedly concerned to accusatory. Everyone was a suspect, but no one expected things to play out the way they did.
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn
We all know how the tragedy at Jonestown played out, but what do we know about the man who led the madness? How did he go from a young, hopeful minister in Indianapolis looking to serve the disadvantaged to the leader behind the largest murder-suicide in American history? Was Jim Jones inherently evil or did he become a product of the power that was put upon him by his followers? Jeff Guinn pored over page after page of FBI documentation, conducted interviews of those in Jones’s small hometown, unearthing new information aimed at getting to the root of who Jim Jones really was.
Death Row Psychiatrist: A Brief Look at Criminals and Their Crimes by Harold C. Morgan, M.D.
Dr. Morgan’s book takes a fascinating look at the minds of the accused he was tasked with interviewing before their trials. The subjects’ crimes range from kidnapping to crimes against children, from murder for hire and more. The accused range in ages from teenagers to the elderly. While the differences among them may be vast, they all reveal a little insight into their actions and crimes. Though these are not case studies, they do allow an inside look into a fascinating, and at times, disturbing line of work.
A Murder in My Hometown by Rebecca Morris
When Dick Kitchel was murdered in his idyllic hometown in 1967, the murder case didn’t go far. Dick was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks with a troubled home life. Fifty years later, after the case went cold, former classmate and writer Rebecca Morris reveals the story about what happened to the 17-year-old who was beaten and strangled to death.
His Garden: Conversations with a Serial Killer by Anne K. Howard
The case against William Devin Howell was intense; charged with seven brutal murders, everyone wanted to know what he did, but he saved his story for one woman. Anne K. Howard, practicing attorney, reached out to him after he was charged with the first murder and was awaiting trial for the others. Throughout the course of their correspondence, Holt shared with Anne harrowing stories of his relationships with the victims, revealing how we never know just how close we are to evil.
My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler
It’s an all too-familiar story; a child goes missing and a desperately heartbroken family does all they can to get their baby back. The story of Milly and her family is gut-wrenching, for all the reasons that you would expect, but there is an added layer of angst as a result of the media coverage and the missteps of the police department. Gemma takes readers behind the nine o’clock news and what was written in the media. In addition to the inside information Gemma’s storytelling provides, we also get a glimpse from her perspective; what it’s like to live in Milly’s shadow as the surviving child.
In Plain Sight: The Kaufman County Prosecutor Murders by Kathryn Casey
Through the spring of 2013 the community of a small Texas town was terrorized by the murders of some of their most well-known neighbors. Could the attacks on the legal community be the work of the Aryan Brotherhood? Maybe, they thought, it was the Mexican mafia. As it sometimes happens, the real suspects were right under the lawmen’s noses. This compelling true crime book is full of details about the crime and what drove the criminals to terrorize this small town.
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Alexandria is excited to begin her summer job at a law firm and have a hand in helping defend those accused of murder. As she comes across Ricky Langley’s case her long-held beliefs about the death penalty begin to change drastically. Her investigation in his case gets close to obsessive and a little frightening when she begins to see parallels in their lives. Over the 10-year investigation, Alexandria comes to terms with both her and Ricky’s stories in what results in a highly emotional and affecting mystery.