The True Crime Book To Read Next, Based On Your Favorite Crime TV Show
When I'm engrossed in a good true crime book, there is nothing that can pull me away. Is it the same impulse, perhaps, that keeps me clicking "Next Episode" on Law & Order: SVU until it's far past my bedtime? I'll bet I'm not the only one who devours any crime story she's handed, no matter if it's in book, TV show, or podcast form.
It's true that crime shows can often be over-the-top, filled with fancy gadgets, and unbelievable coincidences. They might, at a surface level, seem as far from real life as possible. But if there's one thing that I've learned from reading true crime books, it's that often the truth is much, much stranger than fiction.
If you still don't believe me, the books below will prove "truth is stranger than fiction" to be true. There are books about serial killers, medical examiners, arsonists, and an author who wrote crime books while solving true crimes in his real life. As with any good true crime book, these authors focus on the victims, but be prepared for some grisly and disturbing details.
If you're looking for someone new to read, here are seven books matched to your favorite crime show:
If you love 'Law & Order: SVU' read 'Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery' by Robert Kolker
In Lost Girls, Robert Kolker investigates the murders of five Long Island-based sex workers. Instead of focusing on the gory details of the murders, Kolker instead centers his book on the stories of the victims.
If you love 'Bones' read 'Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner' by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
If you love all the science-y bits of Bones, it's time to step into the world of an real-life forensic pathologist. In this fascinating book, Judy Melinek describes her years spent working as a medical examiner in New York City and sheds light on a different side of the investigative process.
If you love 'True Detective' read 'American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land' by Monica Hesse
If you love the gritty, off-the-beaten track worlds depicted in True Detective, this investigation into the arsons of Accomack County is just the book for you. Monica Hesse's thorough and compassionate reporting is not to be missed, and the story she uncovers is thrilling.
If you love 'Sherlock' read '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' by Margalit Fox
Did you know that the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was himself involved in a murder trial? That's right: When a man was wrongly convicted of murder, the famous author took it upon himself to prove his innocence.
If you love 'Criminal Minds' read 'Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit' by John Edward Douglas and Mark Olshaker
If you're fascinated by the idea of "criminal profiling," you need to read about the the real-life FBI agent who developed the investigative tool. In this riveting memoir, Special Agent John Douglas details the dozens of interviews he conducted with serial killers in order to discern patterns in their behavior.
If you love 'CSI' read 'Forensics' by Val McDermid
Dive into the real life tactics of crime scene investigators with this endlessly informative read that will make you think "That isn't how it's done in real life!" every time you watch a crime show. Val McDermid takes readers into the remarkable scientific techniques used IRL, from DNA analysis to anthropological practices. You'll be absolutely hooked.
If you love 'The Fall' read 'I'll Be Gone in the Dark' by Michelle McNamara
This sensational book has been making headlines recently with the news that a suspect in the case of the Golden State Killer (as McNamara named him) has been arrested. With the same determination and fervor as The Fall's Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, McNamara wrote this book in pursuit of justice for the dozens of people who were victims of sexual assault and murder at the hands of the Golden State Killer. Written with equal parts empathy, curiosity, and passion, this book will completely blow you away.