8+ Must-Read Serial Killer Horror Books · Into The Darkness
In the vast landscape of literature dedicated to the macabre, serial killer books have carved out a niche that is both unsettling and undeniably captivating. The allure of these tales, it seems, lies not just in the acts themselves, but in the intricate dance of psychology and circumstance that propels individuals to such dark extremes.
The reader, simultaneously repelled and drawn in, grapples with a complex tapestry of emotions. The best of these works don't merely recount heinous acts but probe the deeper recesses of the human psyche, challenging us to confront our own boundaries of empathy and understanding.
As we turn each page, we are reminded of the thin line between civilization and savagery, and the haunting possibility that the monsters we fear might reside closer to home than we'd like to believe.
Who Are The Most Known Serial Killers In Real Life?
There are many books that have been written about serial killers, but who are the most known? This is the shortlist of the most notorious serial killers in the US:
- Ted Bundy – The most prolific serial killers in American history, and his crimes were chronicled in the book The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule. Bundy confessed to 30 murders, but it is believed that he may have killed more than 100 women.
- John Wayne Gacy – He was another notoriously ruthless killer, and his story was told in the book Killer Clown by Terry Sullivan. Gacy raped and murdered 33 young men and boys, burying many of them in the crawl space beneath his home. He was eventually executed in 1994.
- Jeffrey Dahmer – f you are a true serial killer enthusiast, you know about Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who garnered significant attention.
In the following list I composed, both fiction horror suspense and non-fiction true crime stories come alive with spine-tingling suspense and haunting horror elements that grip the reader from start to finish.
What Are The Top Horror Suspense Serial Killer Books (Fiction)
The Dominant One, by Michelle Ian (2023)
In Michelle Ian's latest offering, The Dominant One, readers are thrust into a maelstrom of moral quandaries and supernatural suspense, marking it as a notable entry in the realm of genre-bending horror. Ian masterfully weaves the haunting tale of Gabriel Connolly, a man who confronts the unsettling discovery that his childhood friend may, in fact, be a malevolent serial killer.
As the narrative unfolds, it takes us on a harrowing journey from secluded cabins to grisly tombs, all punctuated by the presence of a maleficent killer seemingly beyond the clutches of death. The story's ability to oscillate between stark human dilemmas and otherworldly horrors is its crowning achievement. It not only challenges our understanding of traditional horror tropes but also forces us to reckon with deep-seated fears about morality and the inexorable nature of evil.
Ian's The Dominant One is a chilling testament to the potential of horror literature to both terrify and philosophically engage its readers.
The Girl’s Last Cry, by Alison Belsham (2023)
Detective Lexi Bennett discovers the body of a teenage girl, Olivia, lying beneath Canterbury's ancient tower. Despite initial suspicions pointing towards suicide, especially after discovering a note, another teenager's death under similar circumstances leads Lexi to suspect a connection. When a note found at the second scene mimics phrases from Olivia's and a second set of footprints is discovered, Lexi is convinced that a cunning and brutal killer is at work.
However, the stakes are raised exponentially when her own nephew, Sam, goes missing, pushing her to race against time and face this ruthless monster.
With a backdrop as timeless as Canterbury and a detective as tenacious as Lexi Bennett, the novel presents an engrossing juxtaposition of ancient mystique and modern danger.
Silent Dolls, by Dan Padavona (2023)
New York is gripped by fear as children go missing, and the police's mishandling allows a serial killer to remain at large. The FBI sends in profiler Scarlett Bell, with a directive to solve the case solo. However, unbeknownst to her superiors, she enlists the help of the dangerous Logan Wolf.
Meanwhile, sensing a setup, Agent Neil Gardy covertly trails Bell, aiming to protect her from Wolf. As Bell goes undercover to catch the murderer, she must also ensure Gardy and Wolf don't end up killing one another.
The story stands out not just for its high-stakes premise, but for its deft exploration of complex characters.
What Are The Top True Crime Books (Non-fiction)
Monster, by Anne E. Schwartz (2021)
Monster is a Jeffrey Dahmer book in which Anne Schwartz explicitly narrates the real story of his shocking murders.
One night in July 1991, two police officers saw a man running handcuffed from Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment. Upon further investigation, the police found gruesome evidence of three human skulls in Jeffrey’s refrigerator and the body parts of at least 11 people around Jeffrey’s house.
Shortly after, Ann, a Milwaukee reporter, broke the story. She had exclusive access to the primary parties involved, and in this book, she details Jeffrey’s dark life, his case, and what transpired afterward.
This book has fascinating details about the horrible crime scenes, the encounter with police officers, and Jeffrey’s trial and sentence. It also sheds light on the forensics and Dahmer’s enthralling murder in prison.
When a Killer Calls, by John E. Douglas (2022)
When a Killer Calls accounts for the chilling journey of Larry Gene Bell’s crimes. He was one of the most dangerous serial killers John had ever confronted. The book takls about the kidnapping and murders of Shari Smith and Debra May, which occurred in the early 80s.
Larry abducted Shari days before graduation, called her family, and put them through hell over her fate. He went ahead with the calls and continuously became obsessed with Dawn, Shari’s sister, giving her the details of Debra’s kidnapping and murder, including where Shari’s body could be found.
After it became evident that a serial killer was evolving, Douglas was enlisted and devised a strategy to bait the unknown killer. You will marvel at the careful forensic science craft used to manipulate the killer’s psychology and the combined efforts to stop criminal terror.
Boys Enter the House: The Victims of John Wayne Gacy and the Lives They Left Behind, by David Nelson (2021)
In the winter of 1978-79, the chilling discovery of the remains of several young men in a small Chicago ranch home shocked the nation. The house belonged to John Gacy, a respected figure in the community known for his involvement in local politics, charities, and his famed portrayal as Pogo the Clown.
However, with this revelation, he was quickly labeled as one of the “sex murderers” that marked the brutality of the 1970s. As the media frenzy grew, the individual stories of the victims were overshadowed. The book Boys Enter the House explores the lives of these victims, giving them a voice and narrative through the testimonies of their families, friends, and others close to the tragic events.
The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, by Elizabeth Kendall (2020)
In Elizabeth Kendall's 1981 memoir, she recounts her six-year relationship with Ted Bundy, a name synonymous with terror in American criminal history. This updated edition not only brings fresh insights from Kendall but also introduces a chapter by her daughter, Molly, giving her perspective for the first time.
While many accounts on Bundy exist, few provide the personal lens of those who lived day-to-day with him. Kendall's narrative offers a chillingly close look at a man many thought they knew but whose true nature was hidden behind charm and deceit. Elizabeth Kendall's narrative offers insights into the man behind the headlines, illuminating the contrasts between the charming persona Bundy presented to the world and the dark realities of his actions.
Jeffrey Dahmer, by Jack Rosewood (2017)
This book openly covers many facts about the horrible story of Dahmer’s murders. It is insightful and gripping and captures Jeffrey’s essence as a serial killer. I love how Jack’s writing style is more of a psychological investigation. The book answers the unnerving question about why Jeffrey Dahmer became a serial killer in the first place.
It explains why Jeffrey’s murders are famous, his obsession with his men victims, and his continuous post-mortem corpse defilement. No doubt, the details will be scary to comprehend.
The book unfolds Dahmer’s story of rape, cannibalism, necrophilia, and murder like a Hollywood script. You will be fascinated by how Jeffrey was able to evade justice while his sickness progressed over the years and the impact his crimes had on Milwaukee.
Dahmer’s Confession, by John Borowski (2017)
While many Jeffrey Dahmer books talk about his murders, trial, and dark life, this one is different. It provides Dahmer’s confession, correspondence letters, and greeting cards that show Dahmer was a human being first before turning into a vile monster.
I loved how John Borowski explains Dahmer’s childhood and gives insights into the origin of his attachment issues. This book has no gore pictures from the crime scenes.
Dahmer’s wrongdoing was inexcusable and appalling, but his confessions in this book give you a real-time dialogue and actual hearing from his mouth. This is the real deal if you want to get the meat and bone of Jeffrey’s repulsive murder events.
Hell’s Half-Acre, by Susan Jonusas (2022)
This is the shocking revelation of 1873 Kansas murders by a serial killer family, the Benders. This respectable family buried countless bodies in the trailside cabin beneath the orchard of young apple trees.
This serial killer book also explores the environment that allowed such horrendous events to occur and how the Civil war environment contributed to such a dangerous and corrupt society.
The reason(s) why the Benders committed such a despicable killing spree and whether justice was ever found remains a mystery up to this day.
I loved how Susan introduces an interesting cast of characters while giving a new perspective on new victims. From doomed detectives who lost trail to fugitives that helped the killers escape. How an entire family gets away is shocking, making these pages exciting and educative.
Trailed, by Katherine Miles (2022)
Trailed delves into the unsolved 1996 murders of two free-spirited young women in the wilderness. It tells how Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were brutally killed in Shenandoah National Park.
Unfortunately, the FBI, Virginia Police, and the National Park Service experts ignored their case, which has remained unresolved for years. But Katherine began looking into the lives of these adventurous women.
Thanks to her obsession with this case, she discovered cover-ups in national park incidents, mismatched timelines, conflicting evidence, and some details that don’t add up. The true culprit is a known serial killer, not Rice, who the Attorney General convicted.
Trailed is an eye opener to what happens behind the criminal investigations, a plea to make the wilderness safe, and a call to justice.
Final Thoughts on True Crime, and Fictional Serial Killer Books
Serial killers have always been fascinating, making them a massive inspiration for books and TV shows. The cold-hearted murders with no remorse are usually shocking, making such stories excellent entertainment mediums.
If you fancy serial killer books or want to learn more about true crime stories likfe Jeffrey Dahmer, we have provided you with an assortment of the best reads to thrill and repulse you simultaneously.
Check out also our true crime book selection!
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.