Do you love reading about murder and mayhem? I've picked out the best new true crime books that you can read right now, because you should never pass up a criminally good read.
Real-life tales of intrigue and injury are everywhere you look — from the Netflix series Making a Murderer and Mindhunters, to the popular podcasts Serial and My Favorite Murder. Even more prevalent are the thriller novels and films that draw from the true crime genre to turn everyday life into a series of sinister plots.
Of course, true crime isn't a recent innovation, and it isn't limited to gruesome murder stories. Way back in 1965, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood popularized the true crime genre with its account of the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, Kansas. Many of today's true crime books center on heists, fraud, and sex crimes, in addition to murder mysteries.
Whether you love the grisly details or just want to read a gripping adventure in thievery, there's something for you on the list below. These new true crime books are all available to read right now, so you can pick up one of them as soon as you're finished here.
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow (Oct. 15)
The book no one can stop talking about, Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill takes readers inside the #MeToo scandals that have making headlines for years. Beginning with accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, journalist Farrow — who won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Weinstein case — worked to uncover an alleged, and deeply rooted, cover-up operation that kept predators working with access to potential victims. Catch and Kill also examines the accusations against NBC anchor Matt Lauer, a story Farrow says is "bigger" than you might think. It might not be what you think of when you hear "true crime," but Ronan Farrow's book is a reminder that many people beyond the accused are involved in maintaining systems of injustice and abuse.
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Oct. 15)
Identity theft may be unfortunately common today, but authorities were once much more ignorant of the crime, fumbling cases and disbelieving victims. Axton Betz-Hamilton's parents were victims of identity theft multiple times during her childhood, forcing the family to eventually live in a staunchly protected, self-imposed isolation, in fear that whomever had targeted them would come back to prey on them once more. Only later, when she began college, did Betz-Hamilton learn that she herself had become a victim of identity theft at age 11, when someone opened a credit card in her name. It would be several years more before she found out who had targeted her family, and why.
Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox (Oct. 15)
After her Oxford University mentor, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was beheaded by Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, Amaryllis Fox devoted herself to preventing further terror attacks around the world. With an algorithm to predict the formation of terrorist cells before they amass, Fox joined the CIA at age 21. Trained in espionage, she soon found herself working under non-official cover — that is, without ties to the U.S. government — as a spy in the Middle East, where she posed as an art dealer.
Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home by Richard Bell (Oct. 15)
In the vein of 12 Years a Slave comes this heart-wrenching true-crime story of five free children who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into the Deep South to be sold into slavery. Termed the Reverse Underground Railroad, the practice of luring unsuspecting victims into captivity was all too common in antebellum America. In Stolen, Richard Bell centers on the case of the five boys snatched from Philadelphia and carted away to Mississippi, bringing to light the brutality that American slavery imposed, even on non-slaveholding states.
The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice by Vanessa Brown (Oct. 4)
For years, a serial killer — or killers — kidnapped, raped, and murdered young women and boys in mid-century London, Ontario. Despite 40 years of investigation from homicide detective Dennis Alsop, the mystery of these horrific crimes was never solved. In The Forest City Killer, author Vanessa Brown digs into Alsop's notes on the case, examining previously unreleased evidence and witness testimonies, in an effort to make sense of a case long since cold. Could whomever killed London's citizens still be alive, all these years later, and, if so, is there sufficient DNA evidence left to convict them?
Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise by Charlotte Gray (Sep. 24)
Murder rocked the English gentry in 1943, when Sir Harry Oakes, a British-Canadian gold tycoon living in the Bahamas, was found brutally murdered in his home. The mystery surrounding his death has never been solved, but the crime's roots stretched from Oakes' tax-haven home to the Bahamas Governor — the former King Edward VIII, who abdicated to marry the American Wallis Simpson — as well as to the victim's son-in-law, Count Alfred de Marigny, who would ultimately be tried and acquitted in the case. In Murdered Midas, Charlotte Gray attempts to solve a murder mystery with a trail that has long since gone cold.
The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM by Toni Natalie and Chet Hardin (Sep. 24)
Over the course of its first 20 years, NXIVM, the brainchild of Keith Raniere, drew in thousands of people with promises of independent success. Then, in 2017, a New York Times article exposed the organization — purported to be a multi-level marketing, self-help group — as a sex cult that burned brands into the women it styled as "slaves" to higher-ranking members. In June 2019, just over two decades after he founded NXIVM, Raniere was found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering. Toni Natalie, Raniere's ex and the first member of NXIVM, gives an account of the organization's inner-workings in The Program.
Hitler's Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich by Mary M. Lane (Sep. 10)
Although the newly unified Weimar Republic in Germany was politically unstable, it gave birth to a period of widespread creativity in the arts. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, he began to suppress and confiscate works of art that did not meet the "Aryan ideal." In 2013, the German government confiscated a large cache of these "degenerate" artworks from the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt — the son of one of Hitler's art dealers. In Hitler's Last Hostages, Mary M. Lane tells the story of the Nazi art heist, and reveals what happened to the paintings the German government reclaimed.
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Sep. 10)
The two, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story tell how their research came together in this must-read new book. When Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into allegations against Weinstein, the Hollywood producer — against whom new allegations of sexual assault continue to be made — lawyered up in an attempt to end the journalists' prying. Following the publication of their piece on Oct. 5, 2017, Kantor and Twohey witnessed an outpouring of sexual assault and harassment allegations against powerful men in all fields. The #MeToo movement, began in 2006 by Tarana Burke, had gone mainstream.
The Nature of Life and Death: Every Body Leaves a Trace by Patricia Wiltshire (Sep. 3)
As a forensic ecologist, Patricia Wiltshire works with investigators to find the myriad environmental clues that detectives often miss. Her career as a police consultant began in 1994, when she used microscopic plant material from the dirt in a suspect's car to match him to the location where a murder victim's body had been found. Weaving science writing with true crime stories, The Nature of Life and Death is a must-read for true crime fans who feel burned out on the genre.
The Darkest Web: Drugs, Death and Destroyed Lives... the Inside Story of the Internet's Evil Twin by Eileen Ormsby (Sep. 1)
For five years, Eileen Ormsby has spent her time digging into the darkest recesses of the Internet. Known colloquially as the Dark Web, the subject of Ormsby's fascination — and of her new book, Darkest Web — is comprised of largely unconnected websites that are not aggregated by Google and other search engines. From the Internet's hidden drug dens to torture-porn websites, Ormsby has seen it all. If you've ever wondered what the Dark Web is really like, Darkest Web should be on your TBR.
Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly (Aug. 27)
In August 2014, the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was found, wrapped in a blanket and weighed down with rocks, in Winnipeg's Red River. Fontaine was part of the Sagkeeng First Nation, and her death sparked an outcry for justice for First Nations women in Canada, as many as 4,000 of whom may be missing today. Joanna Jolly's Red River Girl traces the impact of Fontaine's murder and the resulting trial — which ended in acquittal — on the Winnipeg area.
Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe (Aug. 20)
The four women profiled in Rachel Monroe's Savage Appetites will make you question your own true crime obsession. Starting with the woman who helped originate the field of forensic analysis in the 1940s, Monroe moves forward in time to examine the life of the woman who moved into the Tate home after the Manson Family killings, the woman who fell in love with an incarcerated member of the West Memphis Three, and the teen who, following an obsession with the Columbine High School shooting, planned a massacre of her own.
The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott (Aug. 9)
Lauded by Devil in the White City author Erik Larson, Karen Abbott's The Ghosts of Eden Park takes readers inside a sensational, Prohibition Era tale of organized crime, in which a lawyer gives up his practice for bootlegging. Imprisoned under the Volstead Act, he doesn't know that his wife has begun an affair with the FBI agent responsible for hauling him in, or that the two of them are ready to ruin him and run away together. The Ghosts of Eden Park is a Jazz Age tale full of intrigue and mayhem, and you're going to love it.
The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down by Abigail Pesta (Aug. 6)
In 2015 and 2017, members of the American Olympic gymnastics team came forward to accuse Larry Nassar, the national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics, of sexual molestation. Nassar pleaded guilty to charges of criminal sexual conduct and the possession of child sexual abuse imagery in 2017. But, as Abigail Pesta's The Girls shows, Nassar molested many, many more girls than the stars of USA Gymnastics who came forward. He also preyed upon a small-town gymnastics studio in Michigan, who came together, as adults, to help Pesta tell their story.
Without a Prayer: The Death of Lucas Leonard and How One Church Became a Cult by Susan Ashline (Aug. 6)
Nineteen-year-old Lucas Leonard wanted out of his parents' church, the secluded Word of Life Christian Church, located in Chadwicks, NY. The day after a "counseling" session organized by the church, Leonard died of blunt-force trauma at a local hospital. As Lucas Leonard's brother and fellow victim, 17-year-old Christopher Leonard, would later reveal in court, the teenager died from injuries sustained during an hours-long beating, which was carried out by nine people, including the brothers' parents, other relatives, and church members. In Without a Prayer, Susan Ashline revists Leonard's life, examining the years that led up to his tragic death.
My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams (July 23)
In the early 2010s, Russian-born fraudster Anna Sorokin scammed New York City hotels and socialites out of more than a quarter of a million dollars by pretending to be a German heiress named Anna Delvey. Sorokin was later convicted on larceny charges and sentenced to spend up to 12 years in prison. In My Friend Anna, Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams examines her friendship with "Delvey," who charged $62,000 to Williams' credit cards — a sum she never paid back.
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (June 26)
For 14 years, Israel Keyes got away with murder. After he was apprehended in 2012, the Alaskan construction worker admitted to committing multiple crimes — including rape, murder, and bank robbery — across the U.S. Keyes died by suicide before he could be brought to trial, however, and questions remain as to how many people he may have killed. In American Predator, Maureen Callahan examines Keyes' "career" as a serial killer, exposing the ways in which law enforcement officials were unequipped to properly investigate his crimes.
Kingdom of Lies: Unnerving Adventures in the World of Cybercrime by Kate Fazzini (June 13)
How do people become black-hat and white-hat hackers? That's the question that drives Kate Fazzini's Kingdom of Lies. In this fascinating work of true crime, Fazzini explores the life stories of various cybercriminals and the people who devote themselves to mitigating the damage of their work. A former cybersecurity professional herself, Fazzini offers up the world of hacking for your entertainment in Kingdom of Lies.
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