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BOOK LIST:

True Crime

Updated: January 22, 2020

True crime books may be written by journalists, lawyers, law enforcement professionals, literary writers, or historians. 


American Eve : Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the birth of the "It" girl, and the crime of the century
Uruburu, Paula M., 1957-
Call Number: 364.9747 U82
Uruburu's account of the love triangle involving a renowned architect, an insane coal heir, and America's first supermodel, and of its grisly end, is meticulously researched, and lurid as a turn-of-the-century dime novel.

American kingpin : the epic hunt for the criminal mastermind behind the Silk Road
Bilton, Nick,
Call Number: 364.92 U36Bi

The Silk Road website launched in 2011, an anonymous marketplace on the dark web where one could buy drugs, fake IDs and firearms. It took 2 years and multiple agencies working together for the government to shut it down. This gripping book covers the rise and fall of the website and its creator, Dread Pirate Roberts.


City of light, city of poison : murder, magic, and the first police chief of Paris
Tucker, Holly,
Call Number: 351.740944 T892

The story of Nicolas de la Reynie, lieutenant general of the Paris police in the 1660s, is part true crime novel, part history, part sordid romance, and part political suspense drama. An engaging read which presents a Paris of the past that is both exotic and strangely familiar.


The complete history of Jack the Ripper
Sugden, Philip.
Call Number: 364.942 S947 2002
The most comprehensive book on the Jack the Ripper murders, written by a historian who relies on original documents and police reports to support his findings, rather than myths surrounding the case.

Conan Doyle for the defense : the true story of a sensational British murder, a quest for justice, and the world's most famous detective writer
Fox, Margalit,
Call Number: 364.941 F793

Arthur Conan Doyle may resemble, by his own admission, Watson more than he does Sherlock Holmes. But in this book he redeems himself because we find a man dedicated to justice and capable of using Holmesian logic against the police, and against his own prejudice, to reopen a cold case, a murder, and to find justice.

 

Death at the Priory : love, sex, and murder in Victorian England
Ruddick, James.
Call Number: 364.942 R914
Who poisoned Charles Bravo in his London mansion in 1876? His deceitful housekeeper? His long-suffering wife? Her lover? Or was it by his own hand? Bravo's unsolved death has fascinated generations of true crime enthusiasts, including Agatha Christie.

Devil in the white city : murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America
Larson, Erik.
Call Number: 364.92 M944La
This books juxtaposes the Colombian Exposition (the Chicago World's Fair of 1893) with the activity of Dr. H. H. Holmes (a notorious serial killer acting contemporaneously). An exciting book, it provides both a myriad of architectural detail and a voyeuristic examination of the deeds of an evil man.

Devil's knot : the true story of the West Memphis three
Leveritt, Mara.
Call Number: 364.9767 L661-1
Leveritt was one of the only journalists in Arkansas who questioned the guilt of three Arkansas teenagers convicted of the 1993 murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis. While researching this book, published in 2002, she combs through every piece of evidence, interview, and court transcript in search of the truth - and uncovers some serious miscarriages of justice along the way.

Five families : the rise, decline, and resurgence of America's most powerful Mafia empires
Raab, Selwyn.
Call Number: 364.92 R111
Longtime crime reporter for the New York Times Selwyn Raab provides a comprehensive history of the Mafia in New York City.

For the thrill of it : Leopold, Loeb, and the murder that shocked Chicago
Baatz, Simon.
Call Number: 364.92 L587Ba
In 1924, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in an attempt to get away with "the perfect crime." Baatz focuses on both the psychological factors that led up to the murder, and the defense that famed attorney Clarence Darrow mounted on their behalf.

Go down together : the true, untold story of Bonnie and Clyde
Guinn, Jeff.
Call Number: 364.92 P238Gu
Guinn avoids sensationalism and mythology in this account of the notorious Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, but it's still quite the page-turner.

The Grim Sleeper : the lost women of South Central
Pelisek, Christine,
Call Number: 364.9794 P384

In the early 1980s, a serial killer was preying on women in South Central Los Angeles, stumping LAPD detectives. Residents, relatives and community leaders were angered because of the long time it was taking to find the culprit, 1988 - 2002; police were frustrated by a lack of evidence. In 2010, familial DNA testing connected the murders to Lonnie Franklin, Jr., a mechanic and former city worker. His long-delayed arrest and trial took a toll on victims’ families, and the author, a former Los Angeles Weekly reporter who grew close to several family members, and stayed with the story for ten years. 


Helter skelter : the true story of the Manson murders
Bugliosi, Vincent.
Call Number: 364.9794 M289Bu 1994
Written by Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and several members of the Manson Family, Helter Skelter is the bestselling true crime book of all time, and is considered one of the best.

Homicide : a year on the killing streets
Simon, David, 1960-
Call Number: 364.21 S594 2006
David Simon's look inside the homicide unit of the Baltimore Police Department inspired a critically acclaimed television series.

I'll be gone in the dark : one woman's obsessive search for the Golden State Killer
McNamara, Michelle,
Call Number: 364.9794 M169

The incredible work of the late Michelle McNamara, who dedicated so much of her life to tracking down the Golden State Killer, a prolific and terrifying serial killer who haunted California during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Though he was not found in her lifetime, her work helped detectives who arrested the main suspect shortly after the release of her book. This one will keep you up at night


In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984.
Call Number: 364.92 H629Ca 2002
Capote's true crime masterpiece about the brutal murder of the Clutter family, and the men who killed them for a few dollars was originally published in 1965.

L.A. noir : the struggle for the soul of America's most seductive city
Buntin, John.
Call Number: 979.41 L881Bunt
The 1950s in Los Angeles marked the rise of notorious gangster Mickey Cohen and controversial police chief William Parker. Buntin chronicles their struggles to control Los Angeles.

Missoula
Krakauer, Jon.
Call Number: 364.153 K892

In 2011, reporter Gwen Florio exposed a pattern of mismanagement of, and failure to prosecute sexual assault cases in Missoula.The scandal eventually led to a Justice Department investigation and settlement. Krakauer describes the courageous struggle of several assault survivors to find justice, as well as the ways rape culture and a corrupt and adversarial judicial system allow repeat offenders to continue to assault new victims and threaten communities.

 

Murder by the book : the crime that shocked Dickens's London
Harman, Claire,
Call Number: 364.942 H287

In 1840, the savage murder of Lord William Russell--his throat slashed while he slept--sent shock waves through Victorian London. When his most trusted personal servant was arrested for the crime, it became a sensation. Then the accused claimed that reading England's most popular novel motivated him to kill his master, and a national frenzy ensued.


Murder in Matera : a true story of passion, family, and forgiveness in Southern Italy
Stapinski, Helene,
Call Number: 364.9457 S793

What happens when a journalist dedicates herself to unearthing an unsavory family secret?  Stapinski travels to the "boot of Italy" to interview, learn and discover her family's past and yet - she is met with resistance from those who stayed in the old country.  She is given the cold shoulder and the evil eye by descendants of her grandparents' contemporaries.  Not one to be deterred, Stapinski returns to Italy several times to research, talk and eventually shed light's truth on the family secret.

 

One of us : the story of Anders Breivik and the massacre in Norway
Seierstad, Asne, 1970-
Call Number: 364.9481 S458

This book tells the story of Anders Breivik and the horrific killing spree he undertook in Norway.  It provides an in-depth look at both the perpetrator and a selection of his victims, as well as a disturbingly thorough look at the actual man hunt Breivik executed. 


The Onion Field
Wambaugh, Joseph
Call Number: 364.9794 W243 2007

Former LAPD sergeant Wambaugh tells the story of the 1963 kidnapping of two LAPD officers during a traffic stop, and the execution of one of them in an onion field outside Bakersfield.


The poisoner's handbook : murder and the birth of forensic medicine in jazz age New York
Blum, Deborah, 1954-
Call Number: 364.9747 B6575
Before 1918, poisoning was an almost sure way to get away with murder in New York City - chloroform was sold in drug stores, arsenic was in a variety of household products, and many apartment buildings had leaky gas lines and poor ventilation. This story of the city's first chief medical examiner, Charles Norris, and the puzzling cases he solved is simply fascinating.

The road out of hell : Sanford Clark and the true story of the Wineville murders
Flacco, Anthony.
Call Number: 364.9794 F569
During the 1920s, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed horrific murders at his southern California chicken ranch. Some of the events of this case are featured in the film The Changeling.

Say nothing : a true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland
Keefe, Patrick Radden, 1976-
Call Number: 364.92 M129Ke

Historian and New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe brings meticulous research to this examination of a murder committed during "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. On a December night in 1972, Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10, was abducted at gunpoint from her Belfast home by a group of masked intruders. No trace of her was found for over 30 years.

 

The stranger beside me
Rule, Ann.
Call Number: 364.973 R935 2000
Ann Rule met Ted Bundy in 1971, while the two were working at a suicide hotline in Seattle. Several years later, as women disappeared around college campuses in the Pacific Northwest, Rule began to suspect her friend.

Studies in murder
Pearson, Edmund Lester, 1880-1937.
Call Number: 364.973 P361 1999
Edmund L. Pearson was not only a librarian, but also the father of modern true crime writing.

The suspicions of Mr. Whicher : a shocking murder and the undoing of a great Victorian detective
Summerscale, Kate, 1965-
Call Number: 364.21 W571Su
In 1860, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Jack Whicher was sent to investigate the murder of three-year-old Saville Kent at his family's country estate, and gambled his career when he became convinced that the murderer was a member of the Kent family.

True crime : an American anthology
Call Number: 364 T8665
An exceptional collection of true crime essays dating from colonial times to the 20th century, and featuring such unlikely crime writers as Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Zora Neale Hurston.

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