The genre of true crime is quickly becoming more popular in almost all types of media, from podcasts and documentaries to TV shows and movies. Nonfiction true crime books often give readers more than just information about well-known crimes. They also show how the justice system doesn’t work, show how the victims feel, and even help people stay safe in the future.
Many true crime books focus on famous murders or serial killers from the past, but the ones on this list also talk about things like abuse and corporate fraud. Each book on this list has been praised by true crime fans on Amazon and Goodreads. They were chosen for their unique perspectives, exceptional storytelling, and ability to humanize victims who had been forgotten.
The best true crime books:
A true crime investigation into the Golden State Killer
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” by Michelle McNamara, available on Amazon and Bookshop
California was terrorized by the Golden State Killer for more than 10 years. Before he disappeared, he sexually assaulted 50 women and killed 10 people in violent ways. In spite of what the police could not do, Michelle McNamara was an investigative journalist who was determined to bring the man who did this to justice. In this book, she tells us about how she worked hard for years. It’s also a very good summary of what she’s done. Michelle McNamara died in the middle of her investigation. Her lead researcher and her husband, Patton Oswalt, worked together to finish the story, which is the result of years of hard work.
A literary true crime classic
“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, available on Amazon and Bookshop
A true crime book called “In Cold Blood” is one of the most well-known. It tells the story of how four members of the same family were killed in 1959 Kansas by a shotgun blast right in front of their faces. Truman Capote’s writing is like a thriller because he writes about the crime, the investigation, and the execution of the killers. These are criminals who left very little evidence for investigators to follow. This is a book that was once required reading in many schools, but now it’s a favorite of true crime fans because of its depth and Truman’s unique way of writing.
A detailed dive into decades of Hollywood abuse
“Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” by Ronan Farrow, available on Amazon and Bookshop
There is a lot going on in this book about Harvey Weinstein, but it doesn’t seem that way at first, because it is a true crime story. It took Ronan Farrow a long time to find out the truth about Hollywood’s predatory sexual and harassment, not just from Harvey Weinstein but from a whole industry of people who used their power and kept their victims quiet. Farrow’s detailed takedown of powerful abusers is worth reading about in full. Many people already know about this story because of its high visibility.
An inside look into an elaborate con
“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou, available on Amazon and Bookshop
When Elizabeth Holmes was the CEO of Theranos, a company that changed the way blood tests were done, she came up with a machine that would make them faster and easier. Theranos changed the way blood tests were done. A lot of people thought she was like Steve Jobs, so her net worth quickly rose to $4.7 billion and her company’s value jumped by $9 billion. It was only later that it was found that her product didn’t work. The book talks about how one woman was able to defraud medical facilities, FDA researchers, and even her own employees. It is a story of corporate fraud and greed that is hard to believe.
A deep-rooted true crime conspiracy resulting in a string of murders
“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann, available on Amazon and Bookshop
People who lived in Oklahoma in the 1920s made a lot of money when oil was found under their land. They became some of the richest people in the world. It was only a matter of time before the Osage were being killed or dying in mysterious ways. As the death toll reached 24, the FBI started to look into it. During this time, the FBI was well-known for being dishonest. It didn’t solve the case until the director and one of the only Indigenous agents worked together to solve one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history. This shocking historical injustice is an important piece of intentionally buried history that needs to be told, and it needs to be told.
A spotlight on a bloody guerilla campaign and its civilian victims
“Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” by Patrick Radden Keefe, available on Amazon and Bookshop
There was a 30-year war in Northern Ireland called “The Troubles.” It started when the Catholic, nationalist minority was discriminated against. More than half of the people killed were civilians, with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killing most of them. “Say Nothing” tells the stories of the people who were killed in the name of this campaign, like Jean McConville, who was kidnapped from her home in 1972 and whose body wasn’t found until 2003. This is a complicated story that used more than 100 interviews to build a picture of the long-term effects of this conflict.
A shocking true crime memoir of survival and forgiveness
“The Pale-Faced Lie” by David Crow, available on Amazon and Bookshop
In this book, David Crow tells the story of how he survived and became successful even though he was raised in chaos and was sexually abused as a child. David grew up on the Navajo Reservation with his ex-convict father, who used violence to get him to do things he didn’t want to do. After he manages to get away from his father’s remorseless grip, David comes to a point with his father where he has to outsmart him in order to live. This is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It’s a memoir about how to forgive after years of abuse, and it’s both insightful and inspirational.
A true story of survival in the face of maternal evil
“If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood” by Gregg Olson, available on Amazon and Bookshop
“If You Tell” is a book about torture, abuse, and murder by a pscyophathic mother and how the sisters used their bond to get through the bad things their mother did. This book explains in great detail how Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek were tortured and neglected as children, and how they kept it a secret for a long time. The story is very intense, and it uses the stories of the daughter, husband, neighbors, and friends to paint a picture of a woman who caused her children terrible pain. It is a heartbreaking story of how three women fought back against evil.
A unique perspective on the Ted Bundy story
“The Stranger Beside Me: The Shocking Inside Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy” by Ann Rule, available on Amazon and Bookshop
An author of true crime books signed on to write a book on Ted Bundy. She didn’t know that the book would be about a man with whom she had a long-term friendship: Ann Rule. Ann couldn’t figure out how her smart and charismatic coworker at the crisis center in Seattle could be accused of such terrible crimes. Refusing to be embarrassed by being fooled by Ted, this book is both biographical and autobiographical. It tells the story of the notorious serial killer while also telling the story of Ann, who has a hard time dealing with the fact that Ted is a serial killer.
The story of a hate crime that fueled the Civil Rights movement
“The Blood of Emmett Till” by Timothy B. Tyson, available on Amazon and Bookshop
Emmett Till, who was 14 at the time, was killed in 1955 after he was accused of offending a white woman in a grocery store. As a result of this hate crime and his mother’s actions afterward, there was a lot of activism in the Civil Rights movement. This included a lot of sit-ins, Rosa Parks’ famous “no,” and a Supreme Court decision that said segregation was unconstitutional. An admission of innocence from the woman he was accused of offending is part of this book. Emmett’s story is told in this book.
The investigative journalism that brought justice to unsolved crimes
“Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era” by Jerry Mitchell, available on Amazon and Bookshop
Jerry Mitchell’s work with this true crime book helped solve decades-old cases that were left unsolved because of racism and corruption. In 1964, more than 20 Klansmen killed three Civil Rights activists in what would become known as the Mississippi Burning. It took more than 40 years for the Klansmen to be found guilty of the hate crime. His book talks about the killing of Medgar Evers, the bombings of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the firebombing of Vernon Dahomey, and the Mississippi Burning, which he wrote about. His desire to do the right thing led to four Klansmen being sent to prison.