20 books that will satisfy your true-crime obsession

They miiight make you afraid of every noise in your house, tho
20 books that will satisfy your true-crime obsession
John Francis
CosmoBy Cosmo -

Okay, so you've seen all the true-crime documentaries available on every single streaming service you can find a login for. And you’ve listened to all the true-crime podcasts that the Apple app has to offer. What's a true-crime obsessed gal to do now, you wonder? Uh, read a book. Duh.

If you've never read a book about one of your favorite, erm, murders, then you're missing out. Becoming engrossed in the narrative that unfolds on the page is honestly *much* scarier than watching reenactments or interviews on your TV screen—your imagination just gets way more dark. Most of your fave true-crime shows and documentaries probably started out as books (hello, The Innocent Man and Mindhunter), anyways. Also, if you pick up one of the many yet-to-be-made-into-a-documentary true-crime books today, you’ll be able to brag to all your friends that you knew the dirty details way before it became a pop-culture phenomenon and a six-part Netflix series (*cough cough* Anna Delvey).

The next time you’re looking for a tech-free fix for your nightmare-inducing addiction, consider one of the following 21 best true-crime books.

1

'Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery' by Robert Kolker

Lost Girls tells the wild (and still unsolved!) story of a serial killer operating in Long Island, New York, in the early 2000s. The book profiles each of the murdered women (most of whom were solicited online, killed, and left near a beach) and how one mother's attempt to find her own daughter led to the discovery of several bodies. Once you're done reading, you can check out the Netflix movie based on the book.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

2

'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote

This book is from the '60s, meaning it's true crime before true crime was cool. It covers the 1959 murder of four members of the Clutter family. They were shot in their home with a gun held just inches away from their faces. And to add to the horror, there was no apparent motive and no real clues. Truman Capote details the fascinating investigation that eventually lead to the arrest and conviction of the killers.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

3

'The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town' by John Grisham

You might already be familiar with the Netflix series, but The Innocent Man started out as a book. Novelist John Grisham dipped a toe into the true crime pool to bring us this gripping tale that tells the story of a small town Oklahoma murder, a botched investigation, and a coerced false confession from a washed-up town hero.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

4

'Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit' by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Everyone and their mother is obsessed with Mindhunter on Netflix, but this book tells the original story of how John E. Douglas (the IRL mind hunter) used psychological profiling to get inside the minds of some of the world's most prolific serial killers.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

5

'All the President's Men' by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Not all true crime has to be all murder-y, guys! All the President's Men dives into one of the biggest political crimes in American history: Nixon's Watergate scandal. And NBD or anything but it's also one of the most respected investigative reporting stories of all time, so it's a must-read for all you amateur sleuths and aspiring journalists. You get to see how the reporters pieced together the break-in plot that went ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!

Click here to get it on Amazon.

6

'My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress' by Rachel DeLoache Williams

What happens when your new Russian heiress friend offers you an all-expenses-paid trip to Marrakech but then sticks you with the $62,000 bill because, oh yeah, she's actually a broke con artist?? Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams gives an inside look at becoming friends with, and eventually taking down, the scamming queen Anna Delvey.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

7

'Catch and Kill' by Ronan Farrow

Ronan Farrow's investigative reporting exposed Harvey Weinstein's horrifying behavior, and the larger pattern of harassment in Hollywood. Catch and Kill details the unending resistance, intimidation, and surveillance Farrow faced while trying to uncover the truth, plus the corruption and cover-ups he unearthed that spanned all the way from Hollywood to Washington.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

8

'American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century' by Maureen Callahan

Israel Keyes may not be a household name, but he's one of the most terrifying serial killers to ever operate in the U.S. He went from coast to coast searching for victims, meticulously burying his "kill kits," filled with weapons, money, and body-disposal tools, in secluded locations all over the country. He boldly abducted victims from their homes in broad daylight and disposed of them in just a few hours. Horrifying stuff. If you want a real scare, this is the book for you.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

9

'The Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother's Crusade to Bring Her Son's Killers to Justice' by Mara Leveritt

Linda Ives' teenage son and his friend were found mysteriously run over by a train, and things only worsened when she learned that the police couldn't (or more accurately, *wouldn't*) solve the case. It's a story filled with drug trafficking, money, and cover-ups—all of which would seem extremely far-fetched if they weren't 100% true.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

10

'If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood' by Gregg Olsen

This is a story of survival in the most tragic of circumstances. Three sisters (Nikki, Sami, and Tori) lived under their sadistic mother's roof for years, where they were subject to unimaginable torture and abuse. The sisters, bonded together, eventually used their combined strength to escape the house of horrors.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

11

'The Stranger Beside Me' by Ann Rule

Hungry for more Ted Bundy content? Although I don't fully support it, I'm not here to judge. True crime author and former officer Ann Rule knew Ted Bundy IRL and was fooled by his charisma, too. The Stranger Beside Me tells her story.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

12

'I'll Be Gone in the Dark' by Michelle McNamara

Author Michelle McNamara, who passed away suddenly while writing I'll Be Gone in the Dark, spent much of her life trying to solve the case of the Golden State Killer. In fact, she even named the serial murderer who was active in the 1970s and '80s to bring attention to the case. Spoiler alert: it worked, and in 2018, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

13

'The Real Lolita' by Sarah Weinman

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel about a middle-aged man's obsession with a 12-year-old girl, was considered one of the greats when it was first published. But the true events that inspired it are actually horrifying. In The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman investigates.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

14

'Burned' by Edward Humes

Jo Ann Parks received a life sentence for the deaths of her three children who were killed in a house fire she reportedly started, according to investigators. Over 25 years later, the California Innocence Project may have proof that could get her exonerated.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

15

'Unsolved Murders' by Amber Hunt and Emily G. Thompson

Unsolved Murders breaks down all of the classic cold cases you keep trying to solve when you're supposed to be doing something else. How much do you really know about JonBénet Ramsey, the Black Dahlia, and the Long Island Serial Killer?

Click here to get it on Amazon.

16

'Helter Skelter' by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecuting attorney in the Charles Manson murder trial, reveals all of the inside information on one of the most infamously terrifying cases in history.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

17

'The Mastermind' by Evan Ratliff

Love true-crime but don't want to read about a grisly murder? Can't blame you. This one's all about an internet drug cartel. Yep, that's a thing.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

18

'Zodiac' by Robert Graysmith

You've probably heard all about the Zodiac killer, who is thought to have murdered up to 50 victims in the '70s. In this book, Robert Graysmith, a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle at the time that the story first broke, accounts his investigation of the case that still remains unsolved.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

19

'The Trial of Lizzie Borden' by Cara Robertson

In 1892, Lizzie Borden was arrested for the brutal murders of her father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby. This case was so sensational, that it's still buzzed about more than 100 years later. The Trial of Lizzie Borden is the result of 20 years of research, and even includes new evidence. 

Click here to get it on Amazon.

21

'The Lazarus Files' by Matthew McGough


In 1986, Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in her own Los Angeles home in what appeared to be a burglary. Sherri's case went cold, despite the fact that she had told her parents that her boyfriend John's ex-girlfriend (a Los Angeles Police Officer) was threatening her. When DNA technology was invented, the case was reopened, with shocking results.

Click here to get it on Amazon.

Via Cosmopolitan US