Is there anything worse than a real-life serial killer? if fact is stranger than fiction? A look at the most notorious incidents of our time reveals a darker aspect of human nature—and a reason to keep your doors closed at night.
With the lights on, here are eleven genuine accounts of serial murders.
The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber
There are few people in American history who have had as much impact on people’s lives as he did. More than 300 people died at the hands of registered nurse Charlie Cullen in December 2003. Two hard-boiled detectives and a nurse risked their lives to bring him to justice. Without their efforts, he might still be on the loose today. You’ll never look at doctors and hospitals in the same way again after reading “a thriller in every sense of the term” in this “breathlessly written” portrayal of lunacy (New York Times).
Death in the Air by Kate Winkler Dawson
Just as post-war London was regaining its footing, another catastrophe hit. In the midst of a deadly haze, thieves went unnoticed as they prowled the streets, picking down unsuspecting victims. All of the women who went missing had a same trait: they’d met a calm, unassuming guy—one who got away with murder while another man, who may have been innocent, was hanged. This historical real crime narrative is “fascinating” in its depiction of London’s sadness and resiliency in the face of tragedy (Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist).
Chasing the Devil by Sheriff David Reichert
Sheriff David Reichert dedicated eight years of his life to finding the Green River Killer. In 1982, he was the first investigator assigned to the investigation and diligently pursued leads as the death toll rose to 49 and the case became the most notorious in the country. Sheriff Reichert tracked down the assassin after risking his life to reach out to the families of the victims. However, it would be another 11 years before he was able to establish his case. What follows is a true-life suspense tale of unmatched bravery and detail.
Judas by Astrid Holleeder
For his role in kidnapping Heineken’s CEO and chairman, her brother, Willem, is one of the world’s most renowned criminals. He was in charge of the family for decades, and he threatened to kill anybody who turned on him. In other words, Astrid utilized her background in law to get the upper hand when she was forced to act as his confidante. He would have been imprisoned for the rest of his life if she hadn’t been so clever. This is a real and horrifying description of the criminal underworld that is both astonishing and very intimate.
Home Sweet Murder by James Patterson
This James Patterson collection includes two compelling true-crime thrillers. An SEC agent claims to be on the scene, but by the end of the night, two individuals will have been shot, stabbed and tortured. This is Home Sweet Murder’s take on a typical Sunday meal. After promising two heartbroken parents that they’ll find the killer of their son, a dedicated investigator swears to get him in Murder on the Run. Murder is Forever on Discovery ID is dramatic, nail-biting, and terrifyingly genuine.
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston With Mario Spezi
Preston and Child’s Pendergast co-author and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Lost City of the Monkey God shares a stunning real crime story. Douglas Preston was shocked to learn upon his arrival in Florence, Italy, that a reputed serial murderer had committed a murder in the olive grove behind his new house. In the end, Preston’s hunt for the truth resulted in his being the subject of a police inquiry. The Monster of Florence, a horrific real tale of murder, mutilation, and a weird vengeance, is fast-paced and unsettling.
Case Files of the NYPD by Bernard Whalen by Philip Messing by Robert Mladinich
Over one hundred and seventy-five years of NYPD real crime cases are brought to life in this fascinating and accurate look at the past. There are both good characters and bad villains in this book, and they jump off the pages (The New York Times). The Son of Sam, a serial murderer who evaded authorities for months and frightened the city, was one of such figures. Is this the end of his story? A straightforward parking fine. Fans of real crime and American Crime Story will be enthralled by this fascinating look at some of New York’s most shocking cases and outstanding investigations. This compilation is perfect for both.
The Last Victim by Jason Moss by Jeffrey Kottler, PhD
It all began with a college project, but it rapidly turned into a terrible addiction. He wrote to Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, and John Wayne Gacy, all of whom had made headlines for their gruesome crimes. John Wayne Gacy urged Moss to see him in jail, an offer he couldn’t refuse, and the situation swiftly devolved into a full-blown crisis. From a writer who dares to look deeply at the dark side of human nature, The Last Victim is a riveting, disturbing, and horrifying look at what we all dread.
The Family by Ed Sanders
Love Generation’s hopes were ruined by two brutal nights in this “terrifying” true crime classic (New York Times Book Review). Sharon Tate, a teenage actress and future wife of Roman Polanski, was one of nine individuals killed by Charles Manson and his followers in the summer of 1969. The Family explores the roots and legacy of the Manson Murders, as well as the riddles that still loom large in our society, from the beginning to the end.
Angel of Darkness by Dennis McDougal
Randy Kraft was a well-educated, politically engaged, and dedicated guy who also conducted the most heinous murder spree of our time. His victims were referred to in lists and their remains were left along motorways by Kraft, who was known as the Scorecard Killer. He was responsible for the deaths of at least 67 individuals. This book is an informative and well-written “peephole into hell,” a look into the twisted psyche of a living monster (Associated Press).