Social media and crime junkies are gushing over Black Bird, the miniseries released on AppleTV+ that is based on the true story of James Keene and Larry Hall. This emotionally charged and gritty crime series is about James Keene, who found himself in prison, sentenced to ten years with no chance of parole. After a few months in prison, Keene was approached by the prosecutor who put him there with a deal. The same prosecutor had put away Larry Hall for the murder of a fifteen-year-old girl, but they suspected that he had murdered nineteen other women. If Keene can get Hall to confess to other murders, he will be released from prison and not have to serve the following nine years.
The miniseries is the perfect blend of a true crime story combined with police procedural elements, and drama that fully investigates all aspects of this story. AppleTV+ does a brilliant job of bringing their viewers along for the full ride up until the chilling finale.
If you’ve already binged all six episodes of Black Bird and are looking for some books to add to your TBR that have complex cases with a gritty procedural aspect to them, here are some books you should check out next!
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
In just twelve hours, serial killer Ansel Packer is set to be executed for murdering young women years ago. Told through the eyes of women from Ansel’s life, you’ll get a biography of Ansel from his mother, the twin sister of his wife, and the detective who investigated his crimes.
The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
In the summer of 1986, six employees at a movie theater were murdered in an armed robbery, leaving a sole survivor. In the same night, a teenage girl disappeared from the state fair to never be seen again. Twenty-five years later, a private investigator’s newest case forces him to revisit his past and leads him to Julianna, the sister of the missing girl who is still looking for answers regarding her sister’s disappearance. Joining forces, the two begin to look for answers regarding each crime from the past and nothing will prepare them for what they are about to find out.
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Ike Randolph is a Black man whose son, Isiah, was just murdered along with his white husband Derek. While Ike never fully accepted Isiah for who he was, he is shattered by the loss of his son. Derek’s father, Buddy Lee didn’t approve of his sons sexuality. When the police have no leads and both men are grieving, the two men team up to find out what really happened the night their sons were murdered.
These Women by Ivy Pochoda
West Adams is a part of South Los Angeles that have a lot of “these women.” The women that work on the corner, the women that go to the clubs, the women who got what was coming to them. Five women who are very different are connected by one man—a killer who is terrorizing West Adams. Dorian’s still grieving the murder of her daughter. Julianna is a young dancer who lives a wild lifestyle. Essie is a vice cop who sees a pattern forming that no one else will recognize. Marella is a performance artist whose work has put her in danger. Anneke is a quiet woman who has turned a blind eye for too long. These lives begin to intersect when two murders haunt their neighborhood.
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Lily has just moved from New York City to Atlantic City, leaving her past behind. Soon after arriving, Lily forms an unlikely friendship with a young boardwalk psychic named Clara. Atlantic City is being terrorized by an unknown serial killer who has been dumping women’s bodies in a marshland behind a motel. Clara begins to have horrifying visions she believes are related to the murders, and asks for Lily’s help to not only try and protect the women of Atlantic City—but to find a killer.
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
When she was just twelve years old, Chloe Davis’s world was shattered when her father confessed to the disappearances of six teenage girls who have went missing in their small town. Twenty years later, Chloe is now a psychologist about to get married when local teenage girls begin to go missing. Was her father really guilty or is there a second killer out there who has been dormant this whole time?
Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski
Samantha is a loner who has worked at the Lovely Lady strip club for years, but something about this new dancer intrigues her. When Samantha decides to give the new girl a ride home one night, her decision is a catalyst for a string of events that are deadly and disturbing, leading to one murder and one disappearance. Georgia is another dancer working with Holly—a detective—to see what kind of insider information she can get related to the missing and murdered investigation. Featuring perspectives from other dancers, guests of the club, and the killer themselves, Real Easy is a poignant and disturbing tale that refuses to go unnoticed.
Ohio by Stephen Marley
On a hot summer night, four high school classmates return to their hometown in Ohio to reveal a harrowing mystery. Bill is a drug abuser activist with a mysterious package. Stacey is a doctoral candidate who is confronting the mother of her first love after her mysterious disappearance. Dan is the shy veteran looking to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Tina’s reunion with the captain of the football team sparks a shocking finale. As these storylines overlap, these old friends dig up dark secrets, betrayal, and a mystery so disturbing it will change their lives forever.