Happy Wednesday, Savvy Readers! Chances are (unless you’re living under a rock or without the internet) you’ve heard about Netflix’s new Tiger King series. A truly explosive true-crime docuseries featuring an eclectic cast of characters and yes, big cats, Tiger King has taken the world by storm and now that I’m done binging it, I have the perfect list of recommended reads for you!
No Beast So Fierce by Dane Huckelbridge
Mesmerized by the big cats in Tiger King? No Beast So Fierce is for you! Nepal, c. 1900: The single deadliest animal in recorded history began stalking humans, moving like a phantom through the lush foothills of the Himalayas. As the death toll reached an astonishing 435 lives (yes, you read that right!), a young local hunter was dispatched to stop the now legendary man-eater before it struck again. No Beast So Fierce is the gripping true account of the Champawat Tiger, which terrified northern India and Nepal from 1900 to 1907, and Jim Corbett, the legendary hunter who pursued it.
My Mother, A Serial Killer by Hazel Baron & Janet Fife-Yeomans
Were you titillated by the charming, if not eccentric Joe Exotic? Try My Mother, A Serial Killer on for size! Dulcie Bodsworth was the unlikeliest serial killer. She was loved everywhere she went, and the townsfolk of Wilcannia, Australia, which she called home in the late 1950s, thought of her as kind and caring. That was one side of her. Only her daughter Hazel saw the real Dulcie. And what she saw terrified her. Dulcie was, in fact, a cold, calculating killer who, by 1958, had put three men in their graves—one of them the father of her four children, Ted Baron—in one of the most infamous periods of the state’s history. She would have got away with it all had it not been for Hazel.
That’s Not My Tiger by Fiona Watts
While Tiger King might not be appropriate for all ages, there’s no reason you can’t share your newfound love for big cats with your kids! The cutest interactive picture book featuring touchy-feely parts you won’t get with a real tiger, That’s Not My Tiger is perfect for fans of Tiger King (and their kids!).
A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerri Rawson
Did Tiger King leave you with questions about Carole Baskin’s role in her ex-husband’s disappearance? You might like A Serial Killer’s Daughter in which Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the notorious serial killer known as BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill), tells the nightmarish story of that discovery and of her long journey of faith and healing.
Out of Thin Air by Anthony Adeane
If you thought Tiger King was bizarre, wait until you read Out of Thin Air! In 1974, two men vanished without a trace under suspicious circumstances, shocking the people of Iceland. 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. 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?
The Golden Boy of Crime by Jim Brown
Dubbed “the Jesse James of Canada,” Norman “Red” Ryan was infamous in the 1920s and ’30s until he was gunned down in an attempted robbery in Sarnia, Ontario. One of the first Canadians to be granted parole, he was held up by Prime Minister R. B. Bennett as a model of rehabilitation and became a regular guest at Toronto police picnics. All the while, however, Ryan continued a crime spree on the side. With skepticism, humour and an often scathing examination of his own profession, journalist Jim Brown tells the incredible story of “Red” Ryan, a larger-than-life criminal (sound familiar, Tiger King fans?) whose fame and legend were much encouraged by the media, leading to deadly results.
Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray
On an island paradise in 1943, Sir Harry Oakes, gold-mining tycoon, philanthropist and one of the richest men in the British Empire, is murdered. The news of his death surges across the English-speaking world, from London, to the Northern Ontario bush. The murder becomes celebrated as the crime of the century. The layers of mystery deepen as the involvement of Count Alfred de Marigny, Oakes’s son-in-law, comes into question. Also suspicious are the odd machinations of the governor of the Bahamas, the former King Edward VIII. But despite a sensational trial, no murderer is convicted. Rumours about Oakes’s missing fortune are unrelenting, and fascination with the story has persisted for decades.
Murder in the Graveyard by Don Hale
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. 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?
The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe
In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister. Reaching out after Francois was arrested, Rowe and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control; an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past—and why she was drawn to danger.
Well, Savvy Readers, I hope this list of thrilling and shocking true-crime tales (with a nice little kids book thrown in for good measure) is just what you need when you’re finished binge-watching Tiger King! Tell me, which of these page-turners are you picking up next? Comment below or tweet us @SavvyReader.