Published in 1966, Truman Capote's true crime book In Cold Blood details a brutal quadruple murder in small town Kansas. An instant success, the book launched the true crime genre that today consists of thousands of titles, television shows, films and even podcasts. Disturbing as the subject matter may be, true crime books (and the like) are a fascinating look into the human mind. We're compelled by our desire to understand how the criminal mind works, and can't help but wonder what we'd do in a similar situation. It's what makes true crime books one of the most popular non-fiction genres, and it certainly explains why we binge watch true crime documentaries like Making a Murderer and obsessively listen to true crime podcasts like My Favorite Murder and Serial. There's no shortage of fascinating true crime books out there - this list of the 50 best true crime books only scratches the surface. How many have you read?
Shop recommended true crime books
The author recounts some his most gruesome and challenging cases during his 25-year career with the FBI and its elite Investigative Support Unit.
Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of Osage people were murdered in cold blood.
A comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the largest murder-suicide in American history.
Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, and this book is his enthralling account of how he built his case.
Graysmith was on staff at the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 when Zodiac first struck, triggering in the resolute reporter an unrelenting obsession with seeing the hooded killer brought to justice.
Impeccably researched, grippingly told, filled with eleventh-hour drama, John Grisham's first work of nonfiction reads like a page-turning legal thriller.
The world of the orchid hunters, breeders and showmen and their crimes provide the backdrop to a fascinating exploration of one of the byways of human nature, the obsessive world of the collector, and the haunting beauty of the flowers themselves.
The most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three.
A sinister plot by a young woman left her mother dead and her father riddled with bullets.
From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma, an explosive and shocking account of addiction and black tar heroin in the heartland of America.
The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn't stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion.
On July 14th, 1966, Richard Franklin Speck swept through a quiet Chicago townhouse like a summer tornado and stabbed, strangled, and killed eight young nurses in a violent sexual rampage.
On August 10, 1977, the NYPD arrested David Berkowitz for the Son of Sam murders that had terrorized New York. Terry details the chilling events, proving that Berkowitz was an affiliate of - and triggerman for - a Satanic cult known as the Process Church of the Final Judgment.
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