The Best of True Crime | Five Books recommends (2024)

Last updated: May 13, 2024

True crime books have enjoyed a resurgence since the podcast Serialand Netflix seriesMaking a Murderer woke a new generation to the thrill of real-life investigations. For the new fan, there is a rich vein of excellent narrative nonfiction ready to tap into, not least Truman Capote's classic, genre-defining In Cold Blood (1966), and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song (1979).

The resurgence of enthusiasm for true crime has also seen a wave of brilliant new writing in recent years. The New Yorker's David Grann, himself the author of the bestselling, award-winning Killers of the Flower Moon, highlighted in an interview some of his favourite true crime books, as did lawyer Cara Robertson, author of The Trial of Lizzie Borden.

For more specific areas of true crime, we also recommend:

Books about serial killers

Books about art crime

Books about cybercrime

    The Best True Crime Books, recommended by David Grann

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    1The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
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    2The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
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    3The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
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    5The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? by Francisco Goldman
  • True crime books can be all too easily chalked up as a genre of grisly murders and cheap, voyeuristic thrills—but to do so would be to overlook compelling evidence to the contrary. David Grann, whose true crime book revisits long-forgotten, or concealed, crimes in the Osage community of Oklahoma, raises the bar with examples of true crime books rich in historical discovery, literary merit and the kind of political inquiry these murky times are calling for.

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The Best True Crime Books, recommended by David Grann

True crime books can be all too easily chalked up as a genre of grisly murders and cheap, voyeuristic thrills—but to do so would be to overlook compelling evidence to the contrary. David Grann, whose true crime book revisits long-forgotten, or concealed, crimes in the Osage community of Oklahoma, raises the bar with examples of true crime books rich in historical discovery, literary merit and the kind of political inquiry these murky times are calling for.

The Best True Crime Books, recommended by David Grann

    The best books on Forensic Science, recommended by Jim Fraser

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    1The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr
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    3The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial by Maggie Nelson
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    5Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification by Simon A. Cole
  • Jim Fraser, veteran forensic investigator and author of Murder Under the Microscope, selects five of the best books about forensic science. Forget what you think you know about the subject from crime fiction and television dramas, and bring a healthy scepticism: this line of work can be as much a craft as a science.

The best books on Forensic Science, recommended by Jim Fraser

Jim Fraser, veteran forensic investigator and author of Murder Under the Microscope, selects five of the best books about forensic science. Forget what you think you know about the subject from crime fiction and television dramas, and bring a healthy scepticism: this line of work can be as much a craft as a science.

The best books on Forensic Science, recommended by Jim Fraser

    The best books on True Crime, recommended by Cara Robertson

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    1Studies in Murder by Edmund Pearson
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    2Classic Crimes by William Roughead
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    3The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
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    4Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial by Janet Malcolm
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    5Crime and Punishment in American History by Lawrence Friedman
  • Why do women kill? What does violence tell us about human nature? How do the methods of the criminal justice system speak to an era? Cara Robertson—a lawyer, author and expert on the famous Lizzie Borden case—picks five true crime books that deal in murder, individual psychology, public trials and justice.

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The best books on True Crime, recommended by Cara Robertson

Why do women kill? What does violence tell us about human nature? How do the methods of the criminal justice system speak to an era? Cara Robertson—a lawyer, author and expert on the famous Lizzie Borden case—picks five true crime books that deal in murder, individual psychology, public trials and justice.

The best books on True Crime, recommended by Cara Robertson

    The best books on Art Crime, recommended by Noah Charney

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    1The Medici Conspiracy by Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschin
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    2Florentine Art Under Fire by Frederick Hartt
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    3The Lost Masters by Peter Harclerode and Brendan Pittaway
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    4The Hollow Needle by Maurice Leblanc
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    5The Napoleon of Crime by Ben Macintyre
  • Art historian Noah Charney takes us on a grand tour of art theft and looting, taking in the Romans, Cosa Nostra and the man who stole the most famous painting in the world and didn’t know what to do with it.

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  • The Best of True Crime | Five Books recommends (37)
  • The Best of True Crime | Five Books recommends (38)
  • The Best of True Crime | Five Books recommends (39)
  • The Best of True Crime | Five Books recommends (40)

The best books on Art Crime, recommended by Noah Charney

Art historian Noah Charney takes us on a grand tour of art theft and looting, taking in the Romans, Cosa Nostra and the man who stole the most famous painting in the world and didn’t know what to do with it.

The best books on Art Crime, recommended by Noah Charney
The Best of True Crime | Five Books recommends (2024)

FAQs

What is the best true crime book ever written? ›

Top True Crime Books
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (2004) ...
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965) ...
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (2017) ...
  • Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles (2023)
Apr 15, 2024

What is the best book about the murdaugh murders? ›

Lasdun didn't have much trouble getting a book contract after a long story he wrote for The New Yorker called “The Corrupt World Behind the Murdaugh Murders” attracted widespread attention and became the magazine's most popular story for 2023. Lasdun's provisional title is “The Family Man.”

What is the true crime book of the year? ›

The Black Widow: The true crime book of the year.

Why are true crime books so popular? ›

People are drawn to these sensational stories by curiosity about the motivations of the criminals, concerns about justice and the legal system and the thrill of solving a real-life whodunnit.

What is a good crime book to read? ›

Must-Read Crime Books
  • The Big Sleep (Special Edition) by Raymond Chandler. ...
  • American Heroin. by Melissa Scrivner Love. ...
  • Lullaby Road. by James Anderson. ...
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game. ...
  • The Reckoning. by John Grisham. ...
  • The Maltese Falcon (Special Edition) ...
  • The Chalk Man. ...
  • The Girl in the Spider's Web.

Who is the king of crime novels? ›

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award.

What is the name of the Netflix series about Murdaugh? ›

Shocking tragedies shatter a tight-knit South Carolina community and expose the horrifying secrets of its most powerful family. Watch all you want.

Are there any movies about the Murdaugh Murders? ›

South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh (Bill Pullman) becomes the prime suspect in the double homicide of his wife and son. South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh (Bill Pullman) becomes the prime suspect in the double homicide of his wife and son.

Is Murdaugh Murders a good show? ›

Critics Reviews

Content collapsed. Even if you've seen the series and you've been following the current trial of Alex Murdaugh on charges of killing his wife and son, the story is so incredible, so bizarre and so chilling that the Netflix doc makes for a compelling viewing experience. Content collapsed.

Who is the best crime author of all time? ›

The Best Crime & Thriller Authors of All Time as Voted by You
  1. 1 - Peter James. Peter James has effortlessly stolen the crown with an incredible number of votes.
  2. 2 - James Patterson. ...
  3. 3 - Val McDermid. ...
  4. 4 - Ian Rankin. ...
  5. 5 - Agatha Christie. ...
  6. 6 - Martina Cole. ...
  7. 7 - Sheila Quigley. ...
  8. 8 - R. C. Bridgestock. ...

What was the first true crime book? ›

The first true crime book in English, dating back to 1635, was John Reynolds' The Triumphe of God's Revenge Against the Crying and Execrable Sinn of Murther.

Is the book True Crime story based on a true story? ›

True Crime Story is a work of fiction, written as a true crime novel. It's told through interview transcripts and newspaper articles... along with email correspondence between Evelyn and Joseph.

Who was the worst serial killer? ›

7 of History's Most Notorious Serial Killers
  • Jack the Ripper. We call him “Jack the Ripper,” but we don't really know who the person behind one of the older and most notorious murder sprees was. ...
  • Jeffrey Dahmer. ...
  • Harold Shipman. ...
  • John Wayne Gacy. ...
  • H.H. Holmes. ...
  • Pedro Lopez. ...
  • Ted Bundy.

Is true crime bad for your mental health? ›

But how can too much true crime impact our mental health? “It can increase our anxiety because we become hypervigilant. We're always looking for the bad person. Every white van becomes the van of a killer or murderer,” explained Chivonna Childs, PhD, a psychologist with Cleveland Clinic.

What is hybristophilia? ›

Hybristophilia, deriving from the Greek hybridzein, meaning to perpetuate an outrage against another, has been defined as the phenomenon of an individual being sexually aroused by a criminal offender.

Who writes most like John Grisham? ›

  • 1. Lee Child. Lee Child is the pen name of famous British writer James Dover Grant. ...
  • David Baldacci. One of the other talented authors similar to John Grisham is David Baldacci. ...
  • Scott Turow. ...
  • John Lescroart. ...
  • Michael Connelly. ...
  • Robert Crais. ...
  • John Sandford. ...
  • Lisa Scottoline.
Feb 25, 2022

What was the first ever crime book? ›

The first modern detective story is often thought to be Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue, a short story published in 1841 that introduced the world to private detective Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin.

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