Fiction is great, and losing yourself in a story is intoxicating. But what about when that story is a depiction of factual events? Crime novels that actually happened are too good to pass up. The following list includes stories that are all true and span the ages.
One of the first true crime novels ever written, In Cold Blood tells the story of a family in Kansas that was killed in 1959. Capote painstakingly details the murders and investigation leading to the capture of the guilty parties. Although first printed in 1965, the author captivates today’s audience in this masterpiece that transcends time.
Today, Ann Rule is considered a true crime queen. Her foray into crime novels started with The Stranger Beside Me, which narrates her firsthand interactions with Ted Bundy. Proving that not everyone is who they seem to be, this carefully researched and written book is a must read if you are into true crime.
Starting with a murder that two brothers felt called by faith to commit, Under the Banner of Heaven is a carefully written history of Mormon Fundamentalists. While most crime novels are not an anthology of a religion, this one will keep you reading from start to finish.
Coining the phrase “The Golden State Killer”, Michelle McNamara meticulously researched this thirty-year-old crime spree which was eventually solved. Not many crime novels are written prior to solving the “who done it,” which is why this one is so incredibly satisfying.
Corruption and cover-up in Hollywood and Washington DC is a common movie theme, but not as often revealed in real life. A pre-curser to the #metoo movement, Catch and Kill is an exposé of how power corrupts and what some people do to cover up the exploitation of this power. If looking for crime novels relevant to current events, do not pass this one up.
Dating back to the 1920s, this story details the account of the Osage Nation members in Oklahoma who were killed off following the discovery of oil under their land. The FBI was established prior to the killings and its director, J. Edgar Hoover, put together a team to solve the mystery. One of America’s big historic conspiracies, this book shouldn’t be skipped.
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In 1893, the World’s Fair held in Chicago had a serial killer that used the event to lure his victims. Occurring less than a decade after Jack the Ripper’s killing spree, Americans did not believe such a monster of a person could exist in their country. If you enjoy crime novels that incorporate impeccable research with suspenseful storytelling, this is your book.
If you have watched the series Mindhunter on Netflix, than you are familiar with the premise of this novel. With his career spanning 25 years in the FBI, Special Agent John Douglas helped term the phrases “serial killer” and “criminal profiling.” He met with the most ruthless killers of modern time. Taking the readers behind the scenes of our history’s most violent transgressions, this is the crime novel of all crime novels.
Everyone has heard of Charles Manson. While there are a number of crime novels using Mason as the main character, this is the only one written by the prosecuting attorney in the Mason case. Read about how the case was built against Manson and how so many people could follow the commands of a killer.
The subject of multiple television events, the story of Elizabeth Holmes is unbelievable. Labeled the next Steve Jobs, her promised medical advancements were financially backed to such a degree that her net worth was upwards of $4.5 billion. Unfortunately for Holmes and her investors…her technology did not work. This book details the incredible fraud case that left so many dumbfounded.
Crime novels are a guilty pleasure for so many readers and this list covers the best. From the 1800s to today, criminal activity is often so unbelievable, it must be true. Pick through your favorites chronologically or just choose what stands out, because you will not be disappointed with any of these selections!
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