I can't get enough of true crime books. I'm hooked on learning about the dark side of human nature.

Every reader will tell you that true crime books have something unique to offer.

However, what makes true crime books highly addictive?

Getting Inside the Criminal Mind

We read true crime books to vicariously experience the thrill of the kill, to understand what motivates murderers, and to explore the taboo side of human nature. But why do we enjoy reading about gruesome murders? What is it that makes us so fascinated with true crime?

This genre has a unique ability to depict criminal life with the story being told from a criminal’s point of view. They are more about why someone takes a particular action and not more about who took a particular action. It is this type of plot that makes them even highly likeable.

True crime books offer us a sense of control. They allow us to explore the dangerous world without risking our safety. They also give us a way to understand the incomprehensible. Murderers are often portrayed as cold-blooded killers who are beyond understanding. By reading about their crimes, we can try to make sense of them.

We have compiled a list of what we think are some engaging true crime books to read from the recent years ordered by date:

What Are The Some Astounding True Crime Books?

Blood on Their Hands, by Mandy Matney (2023)

Before Alex Murdaugh became a household name in America, South Carolina journalist Mandy Matney sensed something amiss in the Lowcountry. The Murdaugh family, wielding significant influence for generations, seemed untouchable. Matney, alongside Liz Farrell, delved into the intricacies of a fatal boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh, the family's teenage son.

Their investigation unearthed a series of enigmatic deaths linked to the Murdaughs, including their long-time housekeeper and a young man mysteriously killed on a remote road. This inquiry was gaining momentum when a shocking event occurred: Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were brutally murdered, thrusting Alex Murdaugh into the global spotlight.

Blood on Their Hands goes beyond a mere recounting of these events. It is a riveting true crime narrative, enriched by Mandy Matney's dedicated journalistic efforts. The book serves as a critical examination of the entrenched “good old boy” networks in rural South Carolina, highlighting how these systems shielded a web of criminality.

The Wager, by David Grann (2023)

The Wager tells the story of a British ship on a secret mission during a war with Spain, which tragically wrecks off Patagonia. The crew's struggle for survival leads them to Brazil, where they are initially celebrated as heroes. However, the arrival of another group of survivors in Chile uncovers a darker truth: the first group were actually mutineers. This twist prompts a court-martial to determine the real story, turning the narrative into a tense and intriguing exploration of human behavior under extreme conditions.

The book offers a vivid portrayal of life on a British warship, the harsh reality of survival in extreme conditions, and the dramatic tension of a high-stakes trial, showcasing the author's ability to captivate readers with unexpected narrative twists. The book combines elements of survival drama, and the complexities of truth and justice.

The Doctor From Hell, by Genoveva Ortiz (2022)

The Doctor From Hell tells the story of Harold Shipman. He was one of the most prolific serial killers in Britain and killed more than two hundred people, most of them being the elderly. Harold was a general practitioner who used different methods to kill his victims by injecting them with lethal doses. His competence, skill, and popularity helped him in his killings, and despite his setbacks, he always seemed to get another opportunity to work.

The similar poses in death made a local undertaker notice the high death rate among his patients. Most would be fully clothed, sitting up, or reclined on a settee. Any patient who annoyed Shipman would also die before their time.

Shipman would advise families to cremate their families and stress that their deaths didn’t need other investigation. Even when families raised questions, he would offer them computerized medical notes to corroborate their causes of death.

Harold’s killing spree ended when Angela Woodruff, the daughter of Grundy, one of his victims, never settled for the explanations for her mother’s death. Shipman had been seen with Grundy when she was last alive, and he had recorded her cause of death as old age. Angela reported Shipman to the police, who found heroin traces in her mother’s body upon investigations.

Shipman had indicated that Grundy was addicted to drugs and pointed it out in his GP notes. The comments on his computer and typewriter handed over more evidence, and Harold was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. The police also certified other death cases whereby Harold administered diamorphine, made false death registrations, and edited or fabricated medical history.

Butcher’s Work, by Harold Schechter (2022)

The Butcher's Work is a must-read if you are interested in true American crime stories. The book talks about a civil war veteran who brought about one of the most terrifying mass slaughters in the records of U.S crime. It also features the story of a serial killer who was up and about during the nineteenth century, and her victims included her six children and three husbands.

You will also learn more details about a Gilded Age “Bluebeard” who got rid of fifty wives. Another well-known and well-decorated World War 1 hero also played a part in orchestrating a murder that will stun you just like it did America during the Jazz days.

The book also talks about other infamous homicides that took place during the same eras. Get to know more about the Lizzie Borden slayings and the killings Leopold and Leob committed for the thrill. These were some killings that have even gotten into today’s cultural mythology. The four sensational crimes have also now continuously faded from public memory.

At its core, the Butcher’s Work is a quartet of some of the most interesting yet brutal historical true-crime narratives. The book will restore some known ones and even help you discover some unknown ones. They are so notorious, absorbing, chilling, and unforgettable. You will remain agape through the entire read.

True Crime Storytime Volume 4, M. Moore (2022)

This book is the last entry of the true crime books of the tetralogy True Crime Storytime. The series takes you back in time to learn about the history of some of the most twisted serial killers in the 1940s.

This entry is an account of Toni Jo, born as Annie Beatrice McQuiston. You will discover her three trials, verdicts, and eventual fate.

Toni killed Joseph P. Calloway, and her reason for the chilling murder was one of the cruelest in crime history. This book takes you through an ugly series of events that followed one afternoon.

Toni’s husband’s sentence caused her to turn to criminal acts since she wanted to spring him out. Together with Harold Burks, Toni schemed to steal a car and rob a bank to pay for Henry’s springing. Joseph was delivering a car for his friend that afternoon and offered them a ride.

Toni rode with Joseph on a country road, robbed, and murdered him.

Manhattan Cult Story, Spencer Schneider (2022)

 Manhattan Cult Story is a chilling and intense account of an underground cult “School” made up of New York professionals. The members were lawyers, money managers, accountants, doctors, and executive recruiters, but they had to remain invisible, having taken an oath to secrecy.

They led secret lives, and no one could tell their lives were full of fervor and terror. For many years, this cult was under the leadership of the sociopathic, charismatic, and dangerous Sharon Gans. Spencer became part of the cult in the eighties and stayed for more than two decades.

The cult members gathered twice weekly but never acknowledged each other outside these meetings. They endured horrific mental and sexual horrors, arranged marriages, forced labor, systematic terrorizing, and swindled savings and inheritances. They did everything for Gans, including breaking the law.

During those years, School was Schneider’s world, and in this book, he tells the story of how he got entangled but eventually got out.

The Deadly Soap-Maker of Corregio, by Genoveva Ortiz (2022)

The Deadly Soap-Maker of Corregio is another great true crime books from the True Crime Explicit series. The book explores the crime accounts by Leonarda Cianciulli. Leonarda was an Italian serial killer who duped women into her home and murdered them. She then used their dead bodies to make teacakes and soaps, which she served and sold to visitors.

Leonarda was superstitious, and tragic events almost always followed her life. First, she married Raffaele Pansardi, a marriage she claimed was a curse placed on her by her mother after failing to marry the man she wanted.

Then, she got pregnant seventeen times, but ten of her children died. She also suffered three miscarriages leaving her with four children, her favorite being Giuseppe. These misfortunes made Leornada show signs of mental illnesses, and she also got into paranoia and superstition.

Leonarda later got engaged in fraud and got imprisoned. After her release, she moved to Lacedonia with her family but later lost her home after an earthquake. She then moved again to Corregio and opened a tiny shop, and was liked by those around her. Nevertheless, her misfortunes never seemed to end.

When Giuseppe enlisted in the Italian army, determined to protect him, Leonarda turned to what she believed would keep him safe- human sacrifice. She killed Faustina Setti, Francesca Soavi, and Virginia Cacioppo.

With the Devil’s Help, Neal Wooten (2022)

Neal Wooten was brought up in a small community in Alabama. Everyone was poor and white, and people embraced prohibition. Snake handlers, rent revivals, and everybody else was welcome, but not Blacks, browns, gays, atheists, Muslims, Yankee, and Tennessee Vol fans.

Neal’s family lived secretly in the woods without running water, adequate electricity, and insulation. Not even mail or the school bus could get there. The Wooten’s could hide where they stayed but not what they were; poor white trash, as everyone saw them. Neal was accustomed to his grandfather’s folklore legends- quick feet, wit, and temper.

This true crime book illustrates how this volatile disposition brought about a murder, conviction, emboldened prison evasion, and a hidden family secret.

 With the Devil’s Help tells a story from two perspectives. It talks about Neal’s life and that of his grandfather to reveal a shocking revelation. You will be taken on a journey across Deep South and discover what it was like to be on the wrong side of the law, tracks, and violent mental illness.

Crimson Petticoats, by Ryan Green (2022)

Any true crime books aficionados will significantly enjoy Crimson Petticoats. The book accounts for Martin Dumollard, the first well-known serial killer in Western Europe. It features a disconcerting French history of true crime, and Ryan draws readers into the actual horror the victims experienced using the elements of a classic thriller.

The year was 1961 when the police tore their way into Martin’s woodside home and found chaos. The paths within the home were carved through piles of bloodstained clothing and some even reached ceiling levels.

The police officers undertook that the arcane maid-robber had murdered one woman but fallen short in his other attempts. Nevertheless, it was getting sickeningly evident that there was a wide gap between the crimes that had actually been committed and the ones they were aware of.

Would Martin’s wife reveal her husband’s dark secret, or was she entangled in the atrocious acts? Were the cold and calculated crimes Martin committed fueled by his disturbing childhood and his parents?

It didn’t matter. Everyone wanted to desperately find out if the 648 missing women were the owners of all these bloody garments.

The Deadly Siblings, by Charlese Ellis (2022)

The Deadly Siblings is a true crime story for those who get a kick out of horrifying stories with extra excitement and validity. Those interested in sex work crimes and are amused by how women get in the business will also immensely enjoy this book.

The story is gut-wrenching with accounts of kidnapping, human trafficking, willful damage, and prolific murder. The story would seem unbelievable if you didn’t know it was true. It is interesting and will help you grasp the dynamics between victims and abusers and why many victims also don’t try to escape.

The book talks about four sisters who were serial killers in Mexico and ran brothels. This story gives an account of various jaw-dropping crimes these women committed and how they were able to get away with the crimes for a long time.

Charlese explores their background and excellently details how they built their wealth. You will discover how the sisters used torture and abusive tactics to run their business and heinous ways to punish their employees. Charlese also talks about how one of the prostitutes escaped from the ordeal and how the sisters finally met their end.

The Murder Gene, by Karen Spears Zacharias (2022)

Luke Chang was a soft-spoken and brilliant son and never showed any signs of the killer he would eventually become. He was a son of missionaries who lived in Morganton, North Carolina. His only option became a stint as a Marine after he hacked into a teacher’s computer.

Luke was recruited, but he was also jeered at for being a non-drinker, pot smoker, and a virgin who never cussed. Then he met Casey Byrams, a fellow Marine who loved fun and was a musician from Alabama.

The two became great friends, but their friendship also brought forth various events leading Luke to Oregon’s Pendleton. There, he brutally murdered Amyjane Brandhagen. Amyjane’s murder took place in August 2012, but Luke also tried to kill another woman about a year later. That was when the police realized that they had a potential serial killer on their hands.

Four decades before Amyjane’s murder, Gene Dale, Luke’s grandfather, also tried abducting a twelve-year-old girl and killed a Michigan lady.

The similar violent actions between Luke and Dale compel the question: is a murder gene a thing?

Madman in the Woods, by Jamie Gehring (2022)

Ted Kaczynski held Jamie Gehring as a baby. Jamie’s family and Ted shared their home and land and even had dinner together in Lincoln, Montana.  Jamie’s family didn’t know they shared all these things with a hermit who had an affinity for murder.

They had no idea that the man who lived next door was something more than a disheveled man. He always brought Jamie painted rocks as gifts. Ted was just Ted.

Jamie’s family dismissed his erratic behavior, the chilling events when Jamie went horse riding, surprise visits, and the help Ted gave Jamie’s dad at the sawmill. After all, Ted was just the odd hermit, as they had nicknamed him. All this while he was wreaking havoc as a domestic terrorist.

For seventeen years, he was able to evade the FBI and had killed three people and left twenty-three maimed. He also mailed explosives to strangers, and that’s how he earned his infamous title, the Unabomber.

Jamie details the evils and horrible acts Ted committed in this true crime book and supplements the accounts with exhaustive research. She also features interviews with those who knew Ted and the investigators who helped identify and eventually capture him.

When I Was Ten, by Fiona Cummins (2021)

When I was Ten is truly captivating. Dr. Richard Carter and his wife are murdered through stabbing in an infamous murder of the modern age that becomes popularized. Sara Carter, who is their ten-year-old daughter, spent ten years for the crime in a children’s secure unit and now lives a quiet life with her family and has a false name. During the crime’s anniversary, a journalist, Brinley Booth is assigned with tracking down Sara and her sister Shannon.

Brinley is not just a journalist but also Shannon’s childhood friend. The confrontations about what actually happened on the night the parents were murdered will bring about some consequences for all the parties. The relationship between Sara, Shannon, and Brinley takes a complete shift following the murders.

In My Dreams, I Hold A Knife, by Ashley Winstead (2021)

In Duquette University, a college reunion is set to take place but it will take a dangerous twist of events. A decade ago, Jessica Miller together with her friends, the “East House Seven,” underwent a horrifying tragedy with one of them being murdered in the dorm room. She was stabbed while sleeping.

Meanwhile, Jessica is now planning her return to the University for the Reunion. She is set to prove to her classmates that she has attained the success and status she always dreamed of and hoped for. However, one person that has close ties with the group has a hidden plan. These friends might just be greeting themselves into a dangerous trap.

This suspenseful novel is a tale of obsession, love, and murder. All the involved parties are all hiding something with deadly secrets.

The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner (2021)

The Lost Apothecary, makes fantastic reading. The narrative happened around the late 18th century. The protagonist is a lonely woman who dispenses poisons so as to harm any man that has previously wronged her clients in an effort to liberate them. The used poison cannot be used on another woman and the apothecary's register must have the names of the murderer and victim.

During one afternoon, Nella is waiting for her newest customer. Nella was once a respected healer but she now uses her know-how for dark reasons. Nella and her new patron Eliza Fanning stir an unexpected friendship but Eliza threatens to expose the people in the register.

Meanwhile, in present-day London, Caroline Parcewell is spending her wedding anniversary alone after discovering her husband’s infidelity. She comes across an old apothecary and can’t keep away from an investigation which links her to the unresolved murders that have continuously haunted London. As her search deepens, her life collides with Eliza’s and Nella’s with a twisted fate. Not everyone will get through. The outstanding synopsis put this incredible true crime book on our list.

The Burning Girls, by C.J. Tudor (2021)

The plot reveals the occurrences of Chapel Croft. There are two teenage girls that disappeared thirty years ago and have not been traced. Five hundred years ago, also saw the burning of eight protestant martyrs. Just in the last two months, the local parish’s vicar has murdered himself.

Jack Brooks and his fourteen-year-old daughter come to the village for a fresh start and in search of peace. On the contrary, Jack finds the town boxed in secrecy, and their welcome package is a note that quotes scripture and an old exorcism kit. As the two get acquainted the more the drift, suspicions, and mysteries keep unraveling. Flo is troubled by strange sightings that occur in an old chapel. It is now evident that there are ghosts that refuse to be laid to rest. In this village, everyone has something that they need to protect and is linked to the past. No outsider is trusted.

The Girl Who Died, Ragnar Jonasson (2021)

In this crime masterpiece, Ragnar sets a story filled with psychological suspense. You will follow along with a young woman who agrees to a teaching position in an Icelandic village that is very remote. She later discovers that she has moved into a community that is highly isolated.

Una’s savings are depleted and she has no love life. She has two girl students aged seven and nine and the adults are very distant. She only connects with Thor, a man with whom they share a mutual attraction.

To get her life on track, she thinks celebrating Christmas in Skalar is a good idea and with a small price to pay. In the bleak winter, she finds herself mostly in her rented attic drinking to try to get rid of the loneliness. She has nightmares portraying a girl dressed in white. When the tragedy echoes a long buried one that happened in Skalar the people become even more guarded and Una is left to uncover the long-kept secret.

A Gambling Man, by David Baldacci (2021)

This crime-thriller novel by David Baldacci evokes the crime's golden age writing in a 1940s Californian setting. For any fan of any of David's previous true crime books and a lover of historical crime thrillers, this is a must-read. The setting involves gangsters and gamblers of the America's casinos seedy-underbelly with Aloysius Archer starring.

Archer is headed to start a new job with a renowned investigator in Bay Town. When he stops at a Reno casino, he meets Liberty Callahan, and they proceed west in a journey accompanied with surprises and danger since it is not only Archer who has a secretive past.

On his arrival in the corruption-filled town, he is assigned to find out who is disrupting a top officials' election. Two people are then murdered in a Burlesque Club and Archer must connect and reveal their connection.

Saint X, by Alexis Schaitkin (2021)

In this engaging crime novel, Claire's sister Allison disappears during a family holiday Saint X. Allison's dead body is found days later and two men are arrested, but the evidence is very slim. The lack of enough evidence leads to their release. Claire is currently seven.

When the event details hit the tabloids, the lives of Claire and her family are changed. During later years, as Claire is in New York, by fate, she gets into a taxi with one of the men that was accused of her sister’s murder. Claire then starts another search by engineering a meeting. The novel’s atmosphere is impactful and filled with crime tension as it rapidly moves towards a really devastating end.

City of Vengeance, by D. V. Bishop (2021)

A protuberant Jewish moneylender is found dead in his home and Cesaro Aldo, who is a criminal court (Renaissance) officer is commissioned with solving the murder and is only given four days to complete the task. Failure to, he is set to face the consequences.

In the course of the investigation, Cesaro unveils a plot so as to overthrow Florence’s unstable ruler Alessandro de Minci. The Duke’s fall will endanger the rest of the city. Cesaro is caught up in an emotionally out of control race against time to solve the conspiracy and save the murder. This is because there is a rival court officer who is hell-bent on exposing Aldo's private life details. Aldo's dilemma is on whether his secrets will destroy him or if he can solve the conspiracy before another death can happen.

The death of the moneylender has wide implications since it occurs in a city driven by Great wealth.

Daughters of Night, Laura Shepherd-Robinson (2021)

This is a second historical crime thriller from Laura Shepherd. The set-up is in London in the year 1782. Caroline Corsham is strongly inclined to seeking justice for a high-class prostitute murder in which the murdered woman would rather be forgotten by the society. During her in depth search within the Georgian society, she finds out that more than her reputation is in jeopardy as finding the killer now becomes even more difficult and treacherous.

Caroline is desperate for her husband to come home from France and is faced with anxiety after finding the woman mortally wounded in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The constables of Bow Street had been swift to act until they discovered that the woman was among the highest paid and now don't care. Caroline now sets on seeking justice, but most of the gentlemen are unwilling to speak about their previous dealings with the murdered woman.

Final Thoughts on True Crime Books

True crime books are unique and have a lesson to offer. They are all well-written and provide a lot of information about the cases that they cover. Are interested in learning more about some of the most famous crimes in history?

Not only will you be entertained, but you'll also learn a lot about the world of crime. If you're ready to take on a new challenge, then check out one of these true crime books today.

If you are into fictional crime books, check out also our selection of crime thriller novels.

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