9 New True Crime Books That Should Definitely Be Movies
True crime has always been popular, but it seems to have become wildly popular genre over the last few years. Every week, it seems, a new true crime movie is added to the Netflix queue and every week, I find myself gazing, glassy-eyed at the screen. And it's just not movies — the true crime publishing game is better than ever. And these new true crime books should be movies — so that, yes, I can spend even more time curled up in my room, mainlining Netflix and becoming increasingly distrustful of everyone and everything.
The recent boom of true crime was arguably sparked by the viral podcast, Serial. In its first season, the show, hosted by Sarah Koenig and produced by the creators of This American Life, grabbed the American public's attention and would not let go. Who killed high schooler Hae Min Lee? And if her boyfriend, Adnan Sayed, didn't, then why has he been in prison for the past decade? These questions continue to plague listeners, and the podcast's implication, that our mistrust in should be validated, opened a new door for American media lovers.
So why the enduring popularity? In a culture where faith in the powers that be — the government, the police, even our peers — continues to crumble, the premise of true crime can be, in a weird, twisted, deeply dark way, comforting. It makes tangible all the suspicions you have. It proves, over and over again, that power does corrupt. That those with it should not be trusted. And that anyone, if they're curious enough, has the potential to break a case wide open.
'Killers of the Flower Moon' by David Grann
The Osage Murders began in the 1920s, when the members of the Osage tribe in Oklahoma were the richest people per capita in the world, following the discovery of oil on their land. They may have been rich, but they were not impervious to the spate of murders that began decimating their community.
'Hell's Princess' by Harold Schechter
Men traveled to the remote Indiana farm to meet and visit Belle Gunness, a tall, solemn widow and mother; none came back. At the turn of the century, "Lady Bluebeard" violently killed and buried a number of men on her "murder farm." And it wasn't until a mysterious fire, which claimed the lives of Belle's children and, possibly, hers, that the bodies were even discovered.
'Saving Sin City' by Mary Cummings
It's New York City in the Gilded Age, and Evelyn Nesbit, a beautiful chorus girl and model, is barely 16 years old. But two massively powerful men — Harry K. Thaw, an unstable, abusive trust fund kid and Stanford White, a controlling architectural genius — are obsessed with her to the point that it leads to "the crime of the century."
'Beneath a Ruthless Sun' by Gilbert King
When a citrus titan's wife is raped in 1957, the local sheriff quickly railroads a series of suspects, including a mentally impaired 19-year-old, who is ultimately convicted and sent, indefinitely, to the state mental hospital. But for journalist Mabel Norris Reese, details of the case become haunting — and for decades after the crime, she continues to dig for the truth.
'The Feather Thief' by Kirk Wallace Johnson
A Victorian salmon fly-tying obsessed American flautist breaks into a Natural History Museum in England and steals hundreds of dead bird skins. And then absconds into the night. And leaves the world — or at least, incredibly interested individuals — captivated in his wake.
'American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land' by Monica Hesse
Think Bonnie and Clyde, but contemporary, rural Virginia, decimated by the financial crisis, and dozens of instances of arson, spread over a handful of months. As abandoned buildings across Accomack County — homes, barns, businesses — are burned night after night, the question of who is burning them and why ensnares a local journalist.
'The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir' by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
When lawyer Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich takes a summer job in Louisiana defending men accused of murder, she knows where she stands: staunchly anti-death penalty, no matter what. But when she sees the face of one particular client, her gut reaction is that he looks unsettlingly familiar — and that she wants him to die.
'Ugly Prey: An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence That Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago' by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi
A heartbreaking deep dive into the ways gender, class and ethnicity play into the legal system, Ugly Prey tells the story of Sabella Nitti, an Italian immigrant living on the outskirts of Chicago who was convicted, without substantial evidence or much of a trial, for murdering her missing husband. She was demonized by lawyers and press alike for her appearance, for her lack of English. And she became the first woman ever to hang in Chicago.