What To Read If You Can't Get Enough True Crime

by Sadie Trombetta

If you looked at my Netflix queue, you would quickly learn that I worship Shonda Rhimes, watch far too many cartoons to be considered a real adult, and have an unhealthy addiction to true crime stories — but on that last note, I am far from alone. From murder mystery podcasts to bingeable TV shows to movies based on real events to books for true crime nuts, it seems like we just can't get enough of the dark, the gruesome, and the gory.

Call it morbid curiosity, call it a sick fascination, call it a guilty pleasure, just know that however you talk about probably won't change people's innate interest in true crime stories. From the O.J. Simpson trial to the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey to the controversial conviction of Steven Avery, people are fascinated with real life murder and mysteries for a number of reasons. According to Katherine Ramsland, author and head of the Master of Criminal Justice program at DeSales University, "people gawk at terrible things to reassure themselves that they are safe," but hers isn't the only theory. Drew University criminology professor Scott Bonn attributes the obsession, in part, to the rush of adrenaline it gives people. "Adrenaline is a hormone that produces a powerful, stimulating and even addictive effect on the human brain," Bonn explains in Time. "The euphoric effect of true crime on human emotions is similar to that of roller coasters or natural disasters.

Whatever the answer may be, one thing is clear: true crime isn't going anywhere, and neither is our fascination with it. And just in case you're going through withdrawals, here are nine books for true crime nuts who simply can't get enough.


'The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder' by Claudia Rowe

In this true crime memoir, journalist Claudia Rowe takes readers down a dark and winding path towards Kendall Francois, a serial killer convicted of murdering and hiding the bodies of eight women in the home he shared with his parents and sister. The Spider and the Fly weaves a story of the complicated relationship Rowe and Francois formed over a four year period of regular correspondence in which they discussed everything from the crimes themselves to the very nature of evil. Intimate and thrilling, this unique take on the true crime book will have readers eating up every page.

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'Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin' by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

It's not often that a true crime novel takes the perspective of those murdered, and not the murderer, but Rest in Power pays attention to the person who really matters: the victim. In this compelling book, Trayvon Martin's parents take turns narrating their son's tragic death, and the devastating and inspiring aftermath that followed. A heartbreaking account of an all-too-common occurrence in present-day America, Rest in Power will change the way you look at these systemized and senseless murders of young black men and women.

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'Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street' by Sheelah Kolhatkar

Not all true crime comes with bloody fingerprints. In Black Edge, The New Yorker writer Sheelah Kolhatkar takes readers into the heart of one of the biggest Wall Street scandals of the last few decades, the powerful rise and dramatic fall of Steven A. Cohen, one of the industry's most powerful players and one of the country's biggest financial criminals. This fast-paced, thrilling account is so titillating, readers might forget they're learning about SEC enforcement, hedge funds, and the financial sector.

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'Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson' by Jeff Guinn

If you're a serious true crime nut, then you've probably spent hours obsessing over the life and crimes of infamous cult leader and murderer Charles Manson, but Jeff Guinn's book is perhaps the most authoritative account. In Manson, Guinn draws from interviews with the killer's family and important historical and cultural events of the time to paint a complete picture of the complicated, and ultimately brutal, life of this notorious criminal.

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'The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan' by Laurence Learner

In this racially and politically charged true crime book, New York Times bestselling author weaves together the very real, and very disturbing, story of the 1981 brutal murder of a young black man at the hands of Klu Klux Klan members. The Lynching chronicles not only the night of the unthinkable abduction, slaughter, and hanging of 19-year-old Michael Donald, but the dramatic court cases against the murders and their local Klan that followed. This is a relevant must-read for anyone concerned about today's rising racial tensions.

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'The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson' by Jeffrey Toobin

The book that was the basis for last year's runaway hit American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin's novel about the trial that captured America's attention is a staple for true crime nuts. A definitive account of the Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman murder, the behind the scenes action on both sides of the courtroom, and a clever cultural critique, The Run of His Life is a legal thriller all true crime addicts need on their bookshelf.

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'Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial' by Rabia Chaudry

Having serious Serial withdrawals? Still curious about Adnan Syed's guilt? Then Rabia Chaudry's revealing book is your next true-crime read. Featuring new key evidence and fan-sourced investigative material, Adnan's Story goes even deeper than the addicting podcast, and will make you question the controversial case more than ever before.

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'Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him, and All the Justice Money Can Buy' by James Patterson and John Connolly

You may know James Patterson for his fiction, but in Filthy Rich, the bestselling thriller author takes on true crime. In this tale of power, sex, and money, Patterson and journalist John Connolly dissect the rise and dramatic fall of Jeffrey Epstein, one of New York's most infamous financial elites. A disturbing story about the power of money and the danger of human trafficking, Filthy Rich may not include murder, but it has plenty of tantalizing details to keep true crime fans hooked.

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'At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic' by Lawrence Millman

A murder mystery in the Arctic? As unbelievable as it may sound, Lawrence Millman's At the End of the World tells the story of a series of senseless murders in the most remote corner of the world. A dark and twisted story of religion, violence, and lasting trauma, this true crime book is chilling in more way than one.

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