There is something spooky about stories about serial killers. People love to play detective, and these true crime stories are the perfect places for them to show off their sleuthing skills.
If you want to learn more about serial killers’ minds and a little history, these are the best books on crime psychology.
The Stranger Beside Me
“The Stranger Beside Me: The Shocking Inside Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy” was written by Ann Rule. It tells the story of how Ted Bundy, an American serial killer and rapist, killed and raped people in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s. When Rule found out that her longtime friend was a prolific criminal who kidnapped, raped, and killed many young girls, she was shocked. The book tells this story from her point of view. Ted Bundy killed at least 30 women between 1974 and 1978. In 1989, he was put to death with an electric chair in Florida, and he was killed.
It was in 1971 that the serial killer met Rule at a crisis center for people who were having problems. They kept in touch for years until his crimes were found out. Besides giving a close look at their relationship, the book also talks about Bundy’s troubled childhood up until the public spectacle of his trials. In her writing, Rule makes you feel the horror she felt when she found out that her friend was not only a suspect, but also a serial killer. “The Stranger Beside Me” is a brilliant blend of Rule’s own memories, research, and journalism. It’s a chilling look at the world that no one else has seen.
For twenty-five years, Douglas worked for the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit, where he interviewed a lot of serial killers and other criminals. This book is about Douglas and his work there. It’s now a Netflix original show, and the story is gripping. It shows what happened behind the scenes as the group worked on some of the most gruesome and difficult cases.
Douglas is a well-known figure in the FBI and one of the first people in the United States to study crime. He and his team went after the country’s most sadistic killers, like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and Ed Gein. He or she was very important to the arrest and conviction of serial killer Robert Hansen and child killer Wayne Williams. Hansen, who hunted prostitutes in the Alaska woods for sport, was caught thanks to the special agent’s profile. It also talks about the case of Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer in Seattle, and how Douglas almost died while working on the case. You will see how a mindhunter like Douglas uses forensic psychology to look at crime scenes, make killers’ profiles, learn about their habits, and predict their next moves. This book is a must-have for anyone who wants to learn more about criminal profiling. It’s a great mix of fantastic stories and gruesome ones.
The Devil in the White City
One of the first well-known serial killers in the U.S. is called “H.H. Holmes.” The book called “The Devil in the White City: Murder and Magic at the Fair That Changed America” is about this man.
During the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, Holmes was most active. Holmes worked from 1888 to 1894, and he was most active during that time. They were young men who came to the city for jobs. Larson told us how the serial killer built a hotel that would become known as “Murder Castle.” This house had trapdoors, secret passages, and soundproof rooms where he killed employees and guests. He used them to trap and kill them. In order to kill his victims, Holmes used a lot of weird and efficient ways. It is thought that he killed more than 200 people. Several bodies found in the “Murder Castle” were so badly decomposed and dismembered that it was almost impossible to figure out who they were. The serial killer was hanged in 1896, and he died in the process. It switches back and forth between stories about Holmes’ murders and the building of the World’s Fair in “The Devil in the White City.” Learn a lot about history when architect Daniel Hudson Burnham and his team turned Jackson Park into the White City. This is an easy-to-read book that you should have in your crime psych library.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
When a great journalist died while working on a story about the Golden State Killer, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” broke new ground. Tells the story of McNamara’s determination to find the man who killed 13 people and raped 50 more in several California towns over the course of a decade, from the 1970s to the 1980s. Her name was the “Golden State Killer.” The book talks about how the killer moved from northern California to the south and evaded the police. Then, the “Golden State Killer” went away. He was so obsessed with the case that it helped open the case up a little more. She looked at a lot of police reports and talked to people who had been hurt.
Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested by police in 2016. They used genetic genealogy techniques to find him. McNamara had been dead for two years when she overdosed on prescription drugs she took for her heart condition. “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” was almost done when she died. After Billy Jensen and Paul Haynes helped her, she was done with her work. McNamara’s husband, Patton Oswalt, wrote a postscript to the book. They say the book is one of the best true crime books of all time. You won’t be able to put it down until the very end!
The book talks about the gruesome murders of John Wayne Gacy, who was known as the “Killer Clown.” He killed 33 boys and men in Chicago.Sullivan was the prosecutor who led the huge manhunt for the criminal, and then he wrote about the whole thing in this best-selling book. Gacy, who was seen as a model citizen and volunteer at the hospital, often dressed up as a clown for charity events and parties to keep kids happy. He was a cruel monster who raped and killed more than two dozen boys and young men. His home in suburban Chicago had a crawl space under it where he buried most of the people he killed there. Others were thrown into a river that was close by, but not all of them made it. A teenage boy went missing before Christmas in 1978, and no one knew about Gacy’s killing spree until then. The search led to the killer’s front door.
“Killer Clown” tells the story of the shocking investigation that led to Gacy’s capture. It starts with the discovery of Gacy’s past violence records and ends with the day that led to his capture. His firsthand account will make you feel sick. You will never see clowns the same way again. This book will make even the most irrational true crime book fans squirm.
You can read about the hunt for a serial killer called “Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of the Hunt for the Nation’s Most Elusive Serial Killer” in this book. It was 1969, and Graysmith was a staff member of the San Francisco Chronicle. When the criminal who called himself Zodiac first attacked, Graysmith worked for the Chronicle. His obsession with finding the killer, whose identity was never revealed because he always wore a hood when he killed people, stayed strong even after the killings stopped. The book shows Graysmith’s compilation of previously unknown facts about the case, including the full text of Zodiac’s letters to the police. Zodiac killed young couples. The first victims were shot dead near their car in a quiet area north of San Francisco. After a year, the same method was used in an attack on another couple, but the male victim was still alive.
Between 1969 and 1974, Zodiac called the police and sent taunting letters to newspapers. This symbol shows the crosshairs of a gunsight. It was used to sign all of these messages together. The killer of the Zodiac still hasn’t been found out to this day. It was late in 1969 when he killed his last person. The book “Zodiac” is so hard to put down that you can’t put it down.
The Night Stalker
It takes a lot of time to show how Richard Ramirez killed at least 13 women in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It will show you how a killer thinks, how he did terrible things, and how he gained a cult following during his trial. In his careful research, Carlo found interviews with Ramirez in which the killer talked about witnessing a cousin kill at the age of 11 and his reaction to his nineteen death sentences.
Ramirez’s story was weird. A juror fell in love with him while he was being tried. When “The Night Stalker” was first published, women from all over the world contacted Carlo and asked to be linked to the serial killer. In this newer version of the book, the author interviewed the “Ramirez Groupies” and told them very bad stories. Also, there is a death row interview with Ramirez in this movie. In 1985, he was sentenced to death. In 2013, he died of cancer while in prison. To get a good book on criminal psychology, you should read this one. It will keep you on the edge of your seat.