If you, like me, obsessively watched Mindhunter the second that it dropped on Netflix last week, then you are surely craving more true crime content by now. Rest assured, Savvy Readers, you do not have to wait until season 3 drops in a couple years – there’s a whole genre of great books for you! Without further ado, here are the best true crime reads for those of us who simply can’t get enough of Mindhunter.
True Story by Michael Finkel
When New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo–who has taken on Finkel’s identity–his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. True Story weaves a spellbinding tale of murder, love, deceit, and redemption, following Finkel‘s relentless pursuit of the shocking truth.
The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe
In this superb work of literary true crime—a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense—a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.
The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray
In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing face of a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.
Murder in Matera by Helene Stapinski
A writer goes deep into the heart of Italy to unravel a century-old family mystery in this spellbinding memoir that blends the suspenseful twists of Making a Murderer and the emotional insight of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. Weaving Helene’s own story of discovery with the tragic tale of Vita’s life, Murder in Matera is a literary whodunit and a moving tale of self-discovery that brings into focus a long ago tragedy in a little-known region remarkable for its stunning sunny beauty and dark buried secrets
Murder in the Graveyard by Don Hale
The true story of one of Britain’s greatest miscarriages of justice. In September 1973, Stephen Downing was convicted and indefinitely sentenced for the murder of Wendy Sewell, a young legal secretary in the town of Bakewell in the Peak District. Wendy was attacked in broad daylight in Bakewell Cemetery. Stephen Downing, the 17-year-old groundskeeper with learning difficulties and a reading age of 11, was the primary suspect. He was immediately arrested, questioned for nine hours, without a solicitor present, and pressured into signing a confession full of words he did not understand. 21 years later, local newspaper editor Don Hale was thrust into the case. Determined to take it to appeal, as he investigated the details, he found himself inextricably linked to the narrative. He faced obstacles at every turn, and suffered several attempts on his life. All of this merely strengthened his resolve: why should anyone threaten him if Downing had committed the crime? In 2002, Stephen Downing was finally acquitted, having served 27 years in prison.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.
The Killer Across the Table by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
The legendary FBI criminal profiler, number-one New York Times bestselling author, and inspiration for the hit Netflix show Mindhunter delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process, and divulging the strategies used to crack some of America’s most challenging cases. A glimpse into the mind of a man who has pierced the heart of human darkness, The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.
Out of Thin Air by Anthony Adeane
In 1974, two men vanished without a trace under suspicious circumstances, shocking the people of Iceland, where serious crime is almost non-existent. More than a year later there seemed to be a breakthrough when a small-time crook named Erla Bolladottir described a dream to police that they interpreted as a sign of trauma related to the men’s disappearance. After lengthy interrogations, investigations and courtroom dramas, Erla and five acquaintances confessed to killing both men and were given prison sentences ranging from three years to life. But over the years the case against the convicted six began to disintegrate, and one major question remained unanswered: Why had they all confessed to murder if they hadn’t done it?
Lady Killers by Tori Telfer
Each chapter of this book explores the crimes and history of a different subject, and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media, as well as the stereotypes and sexist clichés that inevitably surround her. The first book to examine female serial killers through a feminist lens with a witty and dryly humorous tone, Lady Killers dismisses easy explanations (she was hormonal, she did it for love, a man made her do it) and tired tropes (she was a femme fatale, a black widow, a witch), delving into the complex reality of female aggression and predation. Featuring 14 illustrations from Dame Darcy, Lady Killers is a bloodcurdling, insightful, and irresistible journey into the heart of darkness.
A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerri Rawson
In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. As news of his capture spread, Wichita celebrated the end of a thirty-one-year nightmare. Written with candor and extraordinary courage, A Serial Killer’s Daughter is an unflinching exploration of life with one of America’s most infamous killers and an astonishing tale of personal and spiritual transformation.
Which one interests you the most, Savvy Readers? What’s the best true crime book that you’ve ever read? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader!
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