- Megan Bingham
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Looking for that perfect book on serial murderers—but in non-fiction format? Check out these book titles.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
Death in the Air: The True Story of A Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of A City by Kate Winkler Dawson
In winter 1952, London automobiles and thousands of coal-burning hearths belched particulate matter into the air. But the smog that descended on December 5th of 1952 was different; it was a type that held the city hostage for five long days. Mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and 12,000 people died. That same month, there was another killer at large in London: John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least six women. In a braided narrative that draws on extensive interviews, never-before-published material, and archival research, Dawson captivatingly recounts the intersecting stories of these two killers and their longstanding impact on modern history.
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-occupied Paris by David King
The gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America's rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair's brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country's most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his "World's Fair Hotel" just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson's gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both. Read a review on The Devil in the White City here.
The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central by Christine Pelisek
An investigative reporter describes how she uncovered the alleged identity of a long-time serial killer who has been murdering women in South Central Los Angeles since the 1980s.
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer, America's Deadliest Serial Murderer by Ann Rule
This is the extraordinary true story of the most prolific serial killer the nation had ever seen—a case involving more than forty-nine female victims, two decades of intense investigative work. . .and one unrelenting killer who not only attended Ann Rule's book signings but lived less than a mile away from her home.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Women's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.
The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas P. Starr
With high drama and stunning detail, relates the infamous crime and punishment of French serial killer Joseph Vacher, interweaving the story of how Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, Emile Fourquet, and colleagues developed forensic science as we know it.
Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
A literary account of the lives and presumed serial killings of five Craigslist prostitutes, whose bodies were found on the same Long Island beach in 2010. Based on the New York magazine cover story.
Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas
During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life. As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed in his victims' peeled skin. Using his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing their habits, and predicting their next moves.
The Monster of Florence by Douglas J. Preston
New York Timesbestselling author Douglas Preston teams up with Italian investigative journalist Mario Spezi to present a gripping account of crime and punishment in the lush hills surrounding Florence, Italy. The Monster of Florence is a remarkable and harrowing story involving murder, mutilation, and suicide—and at the center of it, Preston and Spezi are caught in a bizarre prosecutorial vendetta.
The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father. . .and Finding the Zodiac Killer by Gary L. Stewart
His father is one of the most notorious—and still at large—serial killers in America. Soon after his birth mother contacted him for the first time at the age of thirty-nine, adoptee Gary L. Stewart decided to search for his biological father. It was a quest that would lead him to a horrifying truth and force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about himself and his world. Combing through government records and news reports and through conversations with his father's relatives and friends, Stewart turns up a host of clues, including forensic evidence, identifying his father as one of the most infamous and still-wanted serial killers in American history.
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper—Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
Cornwell turns her trademark skills for meticulous research and scientific expertise on one of the most chilling cases of serial murder in the history of crime—the slayings of Jack the Ripper that terrorized 1880s London. With the masterful intuition into the criminal mind that has informed her novels, Cornwell digs deeper into the case than any detective before her—and reveals the true identity of this elusive madman. Enlisting the help of forensic experts, Cornwell examines all the physical evidence available: thousands of documents and reports, fingerprints, crime-scene photographs, original etchings and paintings, items of clothing, artists' paraphernalia, and traces of DNA.
The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl
Kent A. Kiehl, who created the Mind Mobil MRI System to study psychopaths in prison populations, has collected the world's largest repository of forensic neuroscience, with scans of more than five hundred psychopaths and three thousand criminal offenders at eight facilities in several states. Kiehl's research has shown that the brains of psychopaths are structurally different from normal brains, offering new clues to how to predict and treat the disease.
The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, A Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder by Claudia Rowe
In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister. Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness, and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed with the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims' rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.
The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer by Roseanne Montillo
Documents a series of child abductions against the backdrop of the Great Boston Fire of 1872, and the discovery of the teenaged killer that sparked a system-changing investigation and influential debates among the world's most revered medical minds.