22 True Crime Books to Read Once Your Podcast Queue Is Empty

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You blew through Serial faster than you’d like to admit, and you've considered, more than once, what your favorite murder is. True crime podcasts (and documentaries...and docuseries...) continue to be ultra-popular—and nearly inescapable. But how do you get your fix once you’re all caught up on available episodes? You read any one of these 22 fascinating, often chilling books.

RELATED: 9 Books That Are Way Scarier Than Horror Movies

david simon homicide

1. Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets by David Simon

You know The Wire; you love The Wire. Which is why you owe it to yourself to read the book that became the basis for Simon’s incredible series. Set in Baltimore (duh), Homicide follows a veteran investigator, a black detective in a mostly white unit and an earnest rookie as they attempt to solve the brutal rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl.

true crime books mcnamara

2. I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

Published two years after McNamara's death, her book examines the previously unsolved case of the Golden State Killer, and contributed to his ultimate capture this past spring. (Psst...this one has also been turned into a miniseries that you can watch right now on HBO Max.)

true crime books robertson

3. The Trial Of Lizzie Borden BY CARA ROBERTSON

After 20 years of researching legal transcripts, newspaper articles and letters from the suspected murderer herself, Cara Robertson presents a new, detailed account of the Borden killings that continue to scandalize America after more than a century.

true crime books kolker

4. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery BY ROBERT KOLKER

A haunting account of a still-unsolved case, Lost Girls unravels the stories behind the mysterious deaths of five women on Long Island between 2009 and 2010 and the ensuing hunt for a serial killer. What makes Kolker’s narrative so compelling is his focus on the victims as three-dimensional people—and the ways society might have failed them.

true crime books toobin

5. The Run Of His Life: The People V. O.j. Simpson BY JEFFREY TOOBIN

Think you know everything about the O.J. case? Not until you’ve read this page-turning account that was the basis for the 2016 FX surprise-hit TV series. (Ross is Robert Kardashian, BTW.) From the white Bronco freeway chase to Simpson’s post-acquittal vow to find his wife’s killer, this is the comprehensive book on a case that polarized Los Angeles and the nation over issues of celebrity, race and domestic violence.

true crime books sales

6. The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales

A story so juicy—and so apropos for our social-media-obsessed times—that Sofia Coppola made it into a movie, this is the story of a group of Valley teenagers who used Facebook, Google maps and TMZ to follow celebrities’ comings and goings so that they could rob them while they were away. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Rachel Bilson were all fleeced for more than $3 million, while the story of the privileged bandits’ celebrity-worship motivation is a cautionary tale for every parent of a Los Angeles youngster.

black dahlia piu eatwell

7. Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell

In L.A. in 1947, aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found brutally murdered. Her killer was never found, but Short’s death became like a real-life film noir. The cold case has intrigued armchair detectives ever since. And now, Eatwell’s fascinating exploration of the murder gets us closer than ever to finding out who was behind it.

the 57 bus dashka slater

8. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

In Oakland, California, in 2013, Sasha, a private school boy who identifies as agender, is on the bus going home when Richard, a junior at the public high school, puts a lighter to the skirt Sasha’s wearing. Sasha receives second- and third-degree burns, and Richard is accused of two hate-crime felonies and faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. In poring over the details of the case, Slater asks us to question the ingrained prejudice of a legal system that eventually locked Richard up for five years.

death in the air kate winkler dawson

9. Death In The Air by Kate Winkler Dawson

In the winter of 1952, London was struck by two killers: One, the Great Smog that killed thousands, and the other, John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least six women. Drawing on extensive interviews and archival research, Dawson recounts the intersection of these two brutal forces and their lasting impact on modern history.

under the banner of heaven jon krakauer

10. Under The Banner Of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Two Mormon brothers insist they received a commandment from God to kill an innocent woman and her baby. Using that as his jumping-off point, Krakauer takes a deeply investigative look inside America’s fundamentalist (and isolated) Mormon communities, complete with delusion, polygamy and unyielding faith. (When you're done with the book, check out the compelling, Andrew Garfield-led FX series of the same name.)

party monster james st james

11. Party Monster by James St. James

St. James, a former club kid himself, takes a fascinating look inside the NYC clubs of the late ’80s and early ’90s like The Tunnel and The Limelight, along with the drugs, sex, music and murder (yep) that happened inside of them.

dominick dunne justice

12. Justice: Crimes, Trials And Punishments by Dominick Dunne

Dunne’s novels and columns in Vanity Fair examined the relationship between extreme wealth and the justice system. In Justice, he searches for truth across a wide swath of cases, from socialite and maybe-murderer Claus von Bülow’s multiple trials to the media frenzy surrounding the O.J. Simpson case.

the poisoners handbook deborah blum

13. The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum

A Jazz Age story of chemistry, poison and murder, The Poisoner’s Handbook is about the early 20th century in New York, when poison was an easy path to the perfect crime. That is, until the appointment of a chief medical examiner and toxicologist who became pioneers in forensic chemistry, turning the system on its head with their trailblazing scientific detective work.

midnight in the garden of good and evil john berendt

14. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil By John Berendt

A mysterious stranger, a secret love affair and a dead body—all set amid Savannah, Georgia’s high-society in the early 1980s—make for a Southern Gothic epic that Berendt unravels with rich, obsessively researched detail.

the red parts maggie nelson

16. The Red Parts By Maggie Nelson

Part memoir and part trial account, Nelson’s 2016 book explores the American obsession with violence and missing white women and the nature of grief, justice and empathy through the long-unsolved case of her aunt’s murder.

true crime books keefe

17. Empire Of Pain: The Secret History Of The Sackler Dynasty By Patrick Radden Keefe

The Sacklers are one of the richest families in the world. Their name adorns the walls of Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre and more. How they got to be so wealthy, though, was pretty vague until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing the catalyst for the opioid crisis, OxyContin. This is a meticulously researched saga of three generations of a single family and the mark they’ve left on the world.

the brothers masha gessen

17. The Brothers: The Road To An American Tragedy By Masha Gessen

Acclaimed journalist Gessen’s 2016 book is an in-depth look at the Chechen brothers behind the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Gessen, a Russian immigrant herself, investigates how the American dream went so wrong for the Tsarnaev brothers.

in cold blood truman capote

18. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Widely considered the first nonfiction novel, Capote’s 1966 account of the brutal murder of a family in a small farming community in Kansas paved the way for pretty much every other book on this list. In it, he reconstructs the murder, capture, trial and eventual execution of the killers in a book that took him six years to complete.

helter skelter vincent bugliosi

19. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

Books about the Manson murders are a dime a dozen, but this is the O.G. Bugliosi, the prosecuting attorney in the trial, recounts his (and his team’s) tireless detective work and reconstructs Manson’s philosophy while examining how he was able to cultivate such fervent followers.

the journalist and the murderer janet malcolm

20. The Journalist And The Murderer by Janet Malcolm

A game-changing examination of the psychopathology of journalism, Malcolm uses the lawsuit of a convicted murderer against the author of a book about the crime to explore the uneasy, sometimes tragic relationship that exists between journalist and subject.

true crime books english

21. The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob BY T.J. ENGLISH

Hell’s Kitchen today might be home to pre-theater restaurants and brand-new high-rises, but in the 1970s it was the domain of the Irish mob. Prolific crime reporter English delves into the brutally violent reign of two men, Jimmy Coonan and Mickey Featherstone, and the politics and betrayal that eventually brought them down.

devil in the white city erik larson

22. The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson

H.H. Holmes, who turned a hotel into a murder weapon and targeted young women at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, has been called America's first serial killer. In The Devil in the White City, Larson takes a literary look at Holmes, intertwining his life with that the architect who built the titular White City. The result is supremely suspenseful and chilling.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...