True crime is using a renaissance at the moment. However, the genre continued to be popular before the Serial tradition or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood attracted Charles Manson’s murders back into focus.
The Best True Crime Books 2021 read like thrillers, with turns and twists to keep you hooked. However, they also tell a bigger narrative, contextualizing the offense as though they were gripping fiction works. While serial killers and grisly murders may instantly come to mind when talking about the crime genre, there is more to the literary theme than that.
The novels are tasteful explorations of their criminal justice system and offenses’ effects on people. Further, these books also make for superb book club selections, every single springboard for queries.
When it’s art forgery, white-collar sins, or political traitors if you’re addicted to all things true crime, this listing captures the best non-fiction true-crime tale of all time.
Top Rated Best True Crime Novels To Read
Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory, and Murder
by Leah Carroll
Many true crime books focus on offenses frequently – but that poignant memoir concentrates much more on the aftermath and how individuals are captured within their pangs long after the headlines have proceeded.
- Carroll, Leah (Author)
The Other Side: A Memoir
by Lacy Johnson
Lacy M. Johnson is a stunning, robust, and eloquent author. With this fashion, she can voice an adventure so harrowing it is almost difficult to believe. Johnson was chased by her abusive ex-boyfriend and needed to struggle to escape out of his grasp. Another Side features a personal story together with the stuff of crime: police reports and clinical information.
The Real Lolita
by Sarah Weinman
Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita is a cultural touchstone, repulsing readers with a story of child abduction and attack, yet keeping them turning the page anyhow. Sarah Weinman’s tour-de-force prompts an essential reexamination of this Lolita phenomenon.
From The Real Lolita, Weinman introduces the convincing proof that Lolita was motivated by a real case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In Cold Blood is a true-crime classic, on November 15, 1959, a page-turner that shows empathy for the offenders while honoring the victims in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a couple of inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no signs.
Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood remains a touchstone, but today’s nonfiction crime writers are learning from investigative reporters, podcasters, documentarians, and others.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the serial killer and the investigation that resulted in the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy.
In Cold Blood is a seminal work of contemporary prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic ability and powerfully evocative narrative.
The Stranger Beside Me: The Shocking Inside Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy
by Ann Rule
The queen of true crime wrote dozens of novels, but Ann Rule’s masterpiece is her particularly harrowing debut, signed on to write a true-crime book about a brutal serial killer of young women. The Stranger Beside Me. Rule describes her personal relationship with a co-worker whom she later understands is a serial killer: the handsome and charming-and prolific-murderer Ted Bundy.
The Journalist And The Murderer
by Janet Malcolm
Jump Fatal Vision, a real crime novel written by a journalist who was embedded with a guy who was finally convicted for murdering his pregnant wife and their two other children. Instead, get more meta and study expert cultural critic Janet Malcolm’s analysis of the association between the two guys in The Journalist and the Murderer. It is more exciting than any true crime book about integrity in offense journalism has some right to be.
Helter Skelter: The Shocking Story of the Manson Murders
by Vincent Bugliosi
This true crime book, written by the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, provides a comprehensive, first-hand description of the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969.
The narrative of the Charles Manson murders, along with the healthy “family” members beneath his mortal charm, has permeated popular culture and the American mind, but here’s the definitive manual. Since the prosecutor from the Manson trial, Bugliosi has unique insights into how Manson exploited his followers to commit grisly crimes.
The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial
by Maggie Nelson
Bluets and The author Maggie Nelson is famous for her literary nonfiction writing, but her foray into true crime is an available and intriguing entrance point into her job. As a youngster, the serial killer of her aunt with a guessed serial killer chased her as well as the rest of her loved ones.
When fresh DNA evidence pins the blame on a different defendant, Nelson finds the new trial together with the attention of a loving daughter and niece, in addition to a profound and cynical thinker.
The People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up (2012)
by Richard Lloyd Parry
Richard Lloyd Parry’s report of a young British girl who went missing in Tokyo in 2000 is impressive in its comparative research on how the Japanese justice system functions and its fascinating exploration of this sinister underbelly of one of the safest cities on the planet.
American Predator: The Hunt For The Most Meticulous Serial Killer Of The 21st Century
by Maureen Callahan
The majority of us have probably never heard of Israel Keyes. However, he’s among the terrifying serial killers in modern American history. Within 14 decades, he’d fly into a town, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles to get the kill kits that he buried in distant locations.
Keyes would then break into a stranger’s home, abduct, kill, and dispose of his own body in only hours. Subsequently, Israel Keyes would come home and resume his life as a silent, dependable construction worker and dedicated dad.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
A true-crime investigation into the Golden State Killer
For over a decade, a violent predator dedicated 50 sexual assaults in Northern California. Then he proceeded south and dedicated ten murders before evaporating. In these offenses, the rapist turned murderer was an athletic white guy between the ages of 18 and 30 who chose to assault suburban couples while they slept.
Almost 30 decades after, accurate crime journalist Michelle McNamara became determined to get the man she called “Golden State Killer.”
McNamara died unexpectedly on April 21, 2016, before finishing her job. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is McNamara’s masterwork, and it’s a terrifying story of a criminal mastermind and the destruction he left behind at the time of her untimely death.
This is a fast-paced narrative of her efforts, as well as a captivating collection of years of hard labor. The book was posthumously upgraded by McNamara’s husband and colleagues and printed on February 27, 2018. Almost two decades after McNamara’s departure, on April 25, 2018, the man alleged to be the Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, was detained.
Another shocking murder case takes center stage from the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Executioner’s Song. Yet the interesting part here isn’t the crime itself a comparatively run-of-the-mill double homicide but the desire of this killer, Gary Gilmore, to be implemented whenever possible.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a chilling, terrifying, and fascinating novel that was just recently adapted into a magnificent HBO series of the same name.
- McNamara, Michelle (Author)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt
Often listed among the best true crime books of all time, Berendt’s job is famous for its holistic fashion, vividly conjuring the murder in question and the different air of 1980s Georgia. That is not to mention the murder itself is not intriguing: a man escort murdered by a respected regional antique dealer, who subsequently suffered four trials to be acquitted.
Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson
Devil In The White City setting true tale is that the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the main character is the architect. Along with another principal character is a cunning serial killer. Erik Larsen’s history could have been intriguing enough had he just hailed the Terrible’s rich cultural and technological moment.
Despite virtually overwhelming personal and professional obstacles, architect Daniel Burnham was charged with building the “White City” to rescue Chicago’s reputation.
There was also a serial killer on the loose functions as a reminder of this baseness of guy even when compared with the promise of modernity.
Two Truths and a Lie
by Ellen McGarrahan
Ellen McGarrahan, then a young reporter at the Miami Herald, covered Jesse Tafero’s execution in 1990. He was a man convicted of killing two police officers. McGarrahan was shocked by Tafero’s unquestioned acceptance of the state version of events after it became clear that Tafero might have been innocent. McGarrahan was inspired to become a private investigator after this revelation. McGarrahan finally decides to uncover the truth about what happened in Florida, despite being there for decades.
The Blood Of Emmett Till
by Timothy B. Tyson
The brutal murder which spawned the Civil Rights movement, the lynching of teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi demonstrated the depths of racism in the USA from the 1950s. But Until was just a sign of injustice, and Timothy B. Tyson adds context to his brief life.
Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teenager, was assassinated in 1955 after being accused of upsetting a white woman at a grocery shop. This hate murder, together with his mother’s subsequent activities, sparked a surge of civil rights agitation that included sit-ins, Rosa Parks’ famous “no,” and a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation illegal.
Bad Blood: Secrets And Lies In A Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou
In 2014 Elizabeth Holmes, founder, and CEO of Theranos water seen as the feminine Steve Jobs. The brilliant Stanford dropout’s multi-billion-dollar startup promised to revolutionize the health industry using a machine that could quickly perform blood tests with just tiny quantities of blood.
On the other hand, the tech didn’t operate, and Elizabeth Holmes misled shareholders, FDA officials, as well as her workers for ages. By 2017, the company was worth nothing, and Holmes faced legal action against the authorities and her shareholders. Bad Blood would be the complete inside story of the journalist who first revealed the fraud.
- Carreyrou, John (Author)
Road To Jonestown
by Jeff Guinn
From the 1950s, an idealistic minister called Jim Jones gathered a following. And in 1978, that 900-strong after – currently living on a chemical in the jungles of Guyana-died after being made to imbibe a cyanide-laced beverage. The Path into Jonestown is the definitive account of how Jones’ cult, the Peoples Temple, culminated in the massacre at Jonestown.
The Fact of a Body
by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
A number of the very best true crime books are intensely private, and that is what The simple fact of a Body provides us. When Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich started working in law enforcement in Louisiana, she had been assigned a case safeguarding Ricky Langley, a guy accused of murder.
However, Marzano-Lesnevich encounters a visceral negative response to the guy. Through his situation, she sifts to ascertain what it’s about his horrible crime, which called to her such an instinctual level.
Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Killers of the Flower Moon pitted David Grann’s archival talents and persistence against a historical tragedy. A superbly researched, superbly written history of pleasure taken up to horrifying lengths.
When oil was discovered beneath the native Osage Nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s, they were among the world’s richest people as well as uncovers why the Osage were being killed or dying under mysterious circumstances after the death toll rose so rapidly in Osage Indian state from the 1920s, the Feds were investigated, revealing one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.
David Grann traces their probe, showing corruption at each layer of law enforcement, regulation enforcement, and authorities, and the inhumanity that rampant greed so frequently strains.
Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil
by John Berendt
A 1981 shooting and its fallout will be the topic of this epic about life and death in Savannah. Rich with the type of varied cast of characters you would see in a novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is too rich in colors and local color as it is in the plot.
Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade
by Walter Kirn
What occurs when a fiction author experiences a real-life Talented Mr. Ripley? Writer Walter Kirn takes readers in his connection with the man he called Clark Rockefeller, a murderer, and swindler who introduced himself as a scion of America’s wealthiest families.
- Kirn, Walter (Author)
The Poisoner’s Handbook
by Deborah Blum
Murdering individuals with arsenic or cyanide was straightforward in the early twentieth century since such poisons were untraceable. Until 1918, that is. Deborah Blum’s account of the origins of forensic science in New York City, when a new medical examiner made significant advances in toxicology, is a must-read for enthusiasts of Jazz Age chemistry.
by Ann Rule
The bestselling author of The Stranger Beside Me is a horrific true crime account of the devastating factors that drove a beautiful young woman to shoot her three young children in cold blood.
Under the Banner of Heaven
by Jon Krakauer
The brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who claim to have received a mandate from God to kill a blameless mother and her newborn girl, are at the heart of Krakauer’s novel. Krakauer builds a multi-layered, bone-chilling story of messianic delusion, polygamy, brutal violence, and unwavering faith, beginning with a painstakingly researched description of this appalling double murder.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
by Jon Krakauer
This is the shocking story of law enforcement failing rape victims at the University of Montana. Between 2008 and 2012, the Department of Justice investigated more than 350 cases of sexual assault. Jon Krakauer used interviews to show how the school and police believed the accused despite overwhelming evidence from victims. It is essential to take sexual assault allegations on campus seriously, as evidenced by the horrible experiences of several women in Missoula.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
by Kirk Wallace Johnson
The Feather Thief is a fascinating examination of obsession and man’s destructive urge to harvest nature’s beauty, as well as a gripping story of a weird and terrible crime and one man’s dogged pursuit of justice.
- Johnson, Kirk Wallace (Author)
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland”
by Patrick Radden Keefe
It is a dramatic, intricate narrative about an infamous assassination in Northern Ireland and its tragic ramifications from award-winning New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe.
Devil’s Knot: The True Story Of The West Memphis Three
by Mara Leveritt
“Devil’s Knot,” tells the story of three men who were released from prison after spending 18 years behind bars, with two life sentences and one death sentence. Three teenagers were charged in 1933 with the murders of three eight-year-old boys by a satanic cult. This book describes the investigation and conviction and how their unprecedented freedom from prison was an error of justice.
The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago
by Douglas Perry
Douglas Perry recreates Jazz Age Chicago and the media frenzy around two women convicted of murdering their lovers: Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, in this fast-paced narrative laced with a sense of the ridiculous.
We Own This City
by Justin Fenton
The Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter who uncovered a gang of criminal officers and their years-long pillage of an American community tells the incredible accurate story of “one of the most stunning police corruption scandals in a generation” (The New York Times).
by James St James
This book was originally called Disco Bloodbath. It is an authentic account of a murder in a subculture: New York City’s club kids who party like it was their job. Party Monster, one of the most prominent insiders, details the highs and lows. It also includes sex, indulgence, and drug addictions. This culminated in Michael Alig being convicted of a particularly horrific crime in 1997.
The Suspicions Of Mr. Whicher A Shocking Murder And The Undoing Of A Great Victorian Detective
by Kate Summerscale
In Victorian London, when detectives were still relatively new, Inspector Jonathan Whicher was the most respected detective. Whicher was called in to investigate the death of a young boy slit throat in 1860. Although he couldn’t prove it, Whicher was convinced that the child’s family was involved. Although his story ended in apparent failure, Whicher was the true-life model for many of literature’s most brilliant detectives.
- Summerscale, Kate (Author)
Other Books About True Tale:
Zodiac by Robert Graysmith
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
Mindhunter by John E. Douglas
Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent Into Darkness by Alfredo Corchado
My Dark Places By James Ellroy
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olson
The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
The Innocent Man by John Grisham (fiction)
The Lazarus Files by Matthew McGough
Catch And Kill by Ronan Farrow
The Feature Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
Dead in the Water by Penny Farmer
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
Who Killed These Girls?: The Unsolved Murders That Rocked a Texas Town by Beverly Lowry
The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James, and Rachel McCarthy James
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel
The Poisoner’s Handbook By Deborah Blum
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, Casey Cep
The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy by Masha Gessen
Columbine by Dave Cullen
People have been fascinated with everything fearful and prohibited. For centuries now, the pinnacle of the fascination has been an offense.
That is why Penn Book has discovered the most wickedly unique functions for your pleasure. Whether you are intrigued by national disappearances or gigantic murderers, you are sure to have the time of your life together with the best books on true crime list.
Last update on 2021-09-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API