Top 6 Books about Unsolved Murders – Darker Than Fiction
Books about unsolved murders become the silent epitaphs of lost souls, each page a mourning wail for a life cut short, a mystery unsolved.
Thriller lovers like good crime cases. But what if a real world crime leaves no clues behind, frightening isn't it? I know crime and murder books can stimulate your mind a little… But then, this isn’t all about fiction.
Yes, fiction can go as far as the author’s imagination, but there are just as many real life cases about murders. Some of them are clever, some others are horrific. Most of them are solved, but there’s also a small percentage of murderers who are too clever to be caught, or the justice system simply fails.
With these ideas in mind, here are some terrifying books about unsolved murders. Here are some fascinating details and what detectives could find based on the evidence… Everything but the killer.
What Are Some Outstanding Books on Unsolved Murders?
The Firefly’s Secret, by Darlon Manickchand (2022)
There’s plenty of journalism on this case and lots of data if you want to read further, but I believe this book covers it pretty well. Before I go further, let me make it clear that some names are changed for protection, but overall, the story is based on real events.
The action begins with a villager's gruesome discovery on a Caribbean beach. Two American honeymooners found dead. She was pregnant. This takes place in the year 1994.
My first thought? Robbery. But as you keep reading, you’ll find out that their rental car had all of their belongings. It was found not far from the scene and there are no clues. The police believe it’s a matter of foul play, but no one can really tell why or how the two died.
The case gets into the press and gains international attention, sensationalist articles, and so on. There are lots of conspiracy theories as well, many of them fueled by the fact that a potential suspect disappears in South America before investigators get to talk to him.
One person is arrested though, an ex officer who was already in lockup for something else. And from this point on, I’ll let you discover the plot yourself.
We Keep the Dead Close, by Becky Cooper (2021)
This is one of the most intriguing books about unsolved murders and not because of the case but because it will probably never be sorted.
Some cases are solved years later, but others are less likely to ever find closure, leaving family members with grief and sorrow for the rest of their lives.
All in all, this case takes us back to 1969.
Jane Britton was a Harvard graduate student, one of the best in her year, and a very ambitious personality. But her aspirations reached an end when she was murdered in her apartment. Her body was found battered to death.
There were lots of rumors about the case, and one of the most common ones was about an affair she might have had with a professor. When she threatened to expose the affair, she was brutally murdered. Or at least that's what the whisper network claimed for so long.
The investigation was reopened four decades later. When the author learned about the story, she decided to find out more. She conducted research for more than 10 years, and everything she's found is now available in her book.
The best part about it? There’s lots of evidence that wasn’t included in early police investigations, maybe because access to technology was limited back then.
Will the book expose the murderer? There’s only one way to find out.
Lost Girls, by Robert Kolker (2013)
This is one of those books about unsolved murders that will most likely become a series at some point.
The story follows the Craiglist ads of five prostitutes, as well as their killings. Murders are believed to be connected, as they were conducted in similar ways. Besides, bodies were found on or around the same beach in Long Island, Gilgo Beach.
Compared to other unsolved murders from the past, this case is just over a decade old, so evidence can still pop up.
Each of these five girls wanted something else from life. They vanished with no trace between 2007 and 2010.
Gilgo Beach is a long stretch that's not very well maintained. It covers seven miles. Now, when it comes to the girls, they have many things in common. They all advertised their services on Craiglist, they were in their 20s and they were short.
The police clearly believes there’s only one serial killer.
Now, the author digs deeper, and apparently, there's more than just prostitution and serial killings. Apart from the most common assumptions, there’s much more to discover.
The book doesn't try to solve the case because not all the evidence is public. Instead, it's written in tight collaboration with the victims' families. This book tells their stories and goes straight to your heart.
It's a sad book that defines a part of American society that everyone ignores, the poor communities, often located in rural areas.
Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell (2017)
This book brings back one of the biggest unresolved murders in history, as well as one of the most popular ones touching the Hollywood industry.
To me, these unresolved murders from decades ago are less likely to provide settlement. I don’t think the authorities will ever find the killers, if they’re still alive. But it’s still interesting to read about them and have your own theories.
This is one of those books…
It covers the unexpected murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947. There were numerous attempts to restart the investigation as newer technologies became available, but the killer was never caught. Indeed, there are many theories about it, but nothing is too clear.
What made this case so popular was the gruesome nature of the murder. The corpse was severely mutilated and bisected by the waist. The remains were found in LA, in January. The victim was nicknamed the Black Dahlia, hence the title of this book.
What’s fascinating about this murder is the fact that many organs were intact, despite being cut in half. Experts of those times believe the murderer was an experienced medical professional.
The Lazarus Files, by Matthew McGough (2019)
Sherri Rasmussen was only 20 years old when she was murdered in her home. It happened in February, 1986.
Everything in the murder scene was a mess. It made perfect sense. The police naturally assumed this was just a burglary that went wrong. The murder might have been a mistake, or perhaps the victim recognized someone, no one can really tell.
What makes it even worse is the fact that her husband, who she shared the house with, was an LA police officer.
Prior to being killed, Sherri confessed to her parents that one of John’s previous girlfriends threatened her. No one believed it, and everyone followed burglary suspects only. Eventually, the case got cold.
Now, unlike many books in my list, this one actually has some sort of closure. Back in 1986, there was no such thing as a DNA analysis. As it was introduced later on, the case was reopened, and many clues led to a viable suspect. I won't spoil the ending for you, though.
All in all, this book underlines the case with less known details, analyses the love triangle that led to this murder, and raises a few question marks regarding the possible corruption in the LAPD.
The Man from the Train, by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James (2017)
A series of murders took place between 1898 and 1912. They were strange because jewelry and money were left there. Instead, bodies were just piled one on top of the other, and their faces were covered. Everyone was killed with an axe.
Despite the similarities, no one associated them with the same killer, especially since they took place all over the country. But what people didn’t pay attention to was the fact that all the affected families lived close to train stations.
Helped by his daughter, the author applied a simple baseball analysis to determine which murders were caused by the same person. Apparently, most of them had the same killer. Together, Bill James and his daughter revealed one of the deadliest and most overlooked serial killers in history.
The book redefines murder in old times, when it was considered a local problem only. But what if someone has actually traveled and murdered people all over the country? The authors discuss these crimes and show how old fashioned perceptions affected the judicial system.
Things are different now, but only because of people who challenged the dysfunctional system.
These are some of the most intriguing books about unsolved murders I’ve read lately. Most of them will let you draw a conclusion and share some opinions. Others have some sort of closure.
No matter which one you find more fascinating, you can always research some more. These cases are real and have happened before, so there must be more data out there, regardless of how detailed the books are.
Find more crime themed reads in the following crime thriller book list.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has its unique value.