11 Engrossing Reads For True Crime Fans
If you love podcasts like Serial or documentaries like Making a Murderer and are looking for more true crime, you've come to the right place. The eleven books listed here explore crimes ranging from theft to arson to murder and will give you a glimpse inside the minds of insidious criminals. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
True Crime Books: Our 11 Picks
10 Great Crime Films
- The Godfather (1972)
- Scarface (1983)
- Goodfellas (1990)
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- The Usual Suspects (1995)
- Catch Me If You Can (2002)
- Kill Bill (2003)
- Sin City (2005)
- Baby Driver (2017)
The Sociology of Crime
Real life can be just as full of bizarre and compelling mysteries as any fiction, as the true crime genre demonstrates. Each of these books is filled with fascinating and sometimes gruesome details, and carries the additional thrill of having actually happened. Here are eleven tales of surprising and unique crimes, listed here in no particular order.
At #1 is Tori Telfer's "Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History." Despite the common misconception that serial killers are all male, there have in fact been a number of female mass murderers who were just as savage and prolific as their masculine counterparts. Telfer presents the stories of fourteen female serial killers, including Elizabeth Bathory, Nannie Doss, and Kate Bender. She explains the life and violent deeds of each woman, as well as the legacy of her portrayal in the media. The book also features fourteen illustrations by Dame Darcy.
At #2 is "Delivered from Evil" by Ron Franscell, a collection of ten true stories about people who survived encounters with mass killers. These include the tales of Charles Cohen, a twelve-year-old boy who hid in a closet while a murderer killed his family, and Roland Ehlke, who survived the University of Texas clock tower massacre. Franscell explores the remarkable experiences of those who have lived through a meeting with true evil. He also investigates how these experiences can permanently affect the course of a person's life.
These include the tales of Charles Cohen, a twelve-year-old boy who hid in a closet while a murderer killed his family, and Roland Ehlke, who survived the University of Texas clock tower massacre.
Taking the #3 spot is "Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America" by Les Standiford and Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews. In 1981, six-year-old Adam Walsh was kidnapped and murdered. His killing went officially unsolved for almost twenty-seven years. Here, Detective Joe Matthews details the years he spent searching for the murderer. In addition, he analyzes the widespread legal and social changes that occurred in the U.S. as a result of the abduction.
At #4 is "The Skeleton Crew" by Deborah Halber. More than 40,000 dead bodies are currently unclaimed in America, and the mysteries of their deaths remain unsolved. But an international team of amateur detectives is busy sifting through mountains of clues online, trying to find out where these corpses come from and what happened to them. Halber provides a window to the little-known world of these do-it-yourself sleuths, each striving to be the first to figure out the puzzle behind their chosen mystery.
In the #5 slot is "Tangled Vines" by Frances Dinkelspiel. In 2005, a man named Mark Anderson set a huge fire in a California wine warehouse, destroying millions of bottles worth more than $250 million in total. Beginning with this crime, Dinkelspiel exposes the dark side of wine-making, going back hundreds of years to reveal that Anderson's arson is in no way the first violent act linked to the California wine trade.
Beginning with this crime, Dinkelspiel exposes the dark side of wine-making, going back hundreds of years to reveal that Anderson's arson is in no way the first violent act linked to the California wine trade.
At #6 is "City of Light, City of Poison" by Holly Tucker. The first police chief of Paris, Nicolas de la Reynie, was assigned by Louis XIV to set the city in order. After having lights installed along the streets, he went deeper into Paris's criminal underbelly and discovered a network of sorcerers and poisoners with ties to the highest level of society. Eventually, he uncovered information which cast suspicion on the king's mistress herself. The story is based on de la Reynie's own notes, as well as letters, journals, and court transcripts.
At #7 is "The Woman Who Wasn't There" by Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. and Robin Gaby Fisher. Shortly after the September 11th attacks, a woman named Tania Head came forward as a leader among the Survivors' Network, leading tours at Ground Zero and using her own money to sponsor charity events. There was only one problem: at the time of the attacks, Head had been in Barcelona. Together with Guglielmo, one of Head's previous friends, Fisher tells the bizarre and remarkable tale of Head's far-reaching lie.
At #8 is "Twisted Triangle" written by Caitlin Rother with John Hess. In 1996, FBI Agent Gene Bennett discovered that his wife Margo, also an FBI agent, had been involved in an affair with bestselling crime writer Patricia Cornwell. In response, he kidnapped Margo and attempted to murder her. His attempt failed, and he claimed insanity at trial. In "Twisted Triangle", for the first time, Margo Bennet has collaborated on a book about the case, donating pictures, records, and interviews for an insider's perspective on her strange story.
His attempt failed, and he claimed insanity at trial.
At #9 we have "Man Overboard" by Burl Barer. When Oregon businessman Phil Champagne died at fifty-two in a boating accident, it initially seemed to be nothing more than an unfortunate tragedy. But ten years later, when a man named Howard Stegeman was arrested by the Secret Service, the truth about Champagne's death came out. Stegeman, a Washington restaurant owner, had been manufacturing counterfeit bills in a garage in Idaho, and he also had Champagne's fingerprints. Barer, the only writer to receive Champagne's permission to tell his story, outlines the decade that he spent living as an entirely different man.
Coming in at #10 is "The Feather Thief" by Kirk Wallace Johnson. In 2009, a twenty-year-old American flute player named Edwin Rist broke into a British museum and stole 299 specimens of rare bird feathers, some of them more than a century old. As a fly-fisherman, he knew that the feathers would be incredibly valuable to other fly-makers, and intended to sell them for a huge sum of money. Johnson explores the nature of this odd crime, as well as the intricate world of fly-fishing.
At #11 is "The Billionaire's Vinegar" by Benjamin Wallace, which tracks the convoluted history of the world's most expensive bottle of wine, a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux which went for $156,000 at auction. Supposedly once owned by Thomas Jefferson, the wine was discovered and sold by a collector who may also have been a con artist. Wallace investigates the story behind this pricey vintage, trying to figure out if the bottle was really worth its selling price, and how it managed to make its way from a Nazi bunker into the hands of one of the richest families in the world.