Your Introduction Into the World of True Crime Books

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So you want to dip your toes into the gruesome pool that is true crime non-fiction books- you go to the bookstore or library and… it’s kind of overwhelming. And alarming! I mean, what the heck? There’s so much of it- how can people do all the things that fill those books?

Let me tell you what got me started- my husband and I were headed to (of all places) Disney World, and the standard ‘who controls the music’ bickering started. Sublime vs. Taylor Swift- one of the many things we don’t agree on! 

Now, typically, we resolve this by putting on the comedy channel on Pandora- but we heard the same sexist joke twice within an hour and we were both grossed out. 


I started looking up top pod-casts to listen to and voila! We started listening to Serial.   And then we listened to Gone Cold Podcast on the way back. AND THEN. 

We stopped at a rest stop on the way back to NC, looked at each other, and took turns walking the other to the bathroom and waiting outside. 

Ah, young romance.

Now I’m addicted, have invested in good deadbolts, and have a ‘curfew’ for reading/listening to true-crime (for the sake of Mr. Rochester’s sleep- but at least he doesn’t have an extra wife in the attic.)

Here are a few True Crime Books to check out if you're curious:

Killers of the Flower Moon:

The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

David Grann

Have you heard of the Osage Indian Reservation murders? This book details the investigation into them by the newly founded FBI. The Osage Tribe became wealthy when oil was discovered under their land- and that’s when bad things start happening. This book made me angry and just… sad. Definitely worth reading.


Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Okay, this is probably THE book to read when it comes to true-crime. John Douglas was one of the founders of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI- and he has stories to tell. This goes over several well-known cases that Douglas worked on during his career, like the Atlanta Monster case. Though I don’t always agree with Douglas’s mindset, it’s a fascinating and gruesome read. And oh boy- if you haven’t yet, you should check out Mindhunter on Netflix. My husband and I are addicted.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Michelle McNamara

This is probably on everyone’s list- Michelle McNamara writes about who she deems The Golden State Killer. Many credit her research as a reason that brought renewed interest in the case- and to the eventual (recent) arrest of the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker.

Bad Blood:

Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start

John Carreyrou

For those of you who like white-collar crime, I’d suggest reading this book. Even if you don’t want to read, there’s a podcast AND an HBO series that you can check out instead! It’s about Elizabeth Holmes and a start-up called Theranos- it’s seriously twisted.

The Innocent Man:

Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

John Grisham

This is the story of Ron Williamson and how the justice system failed him so terribly- for 18 years. Check out the documentary on Netflix if you don’t have time to read, it’s worth it.

Oh, what the heck. Let’s do 6.

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote

This is the one that theoretically started it all. 

It’s sort of a dramatized story
based on the real life murders of a family in 1959. This book is definitely worth reading if you’re just starting out in the true-crime genre.

Now, for podcast recs (my top three):

1. Serial (obviously)- 3 Seasons/ story arcs.
2. Crime Junkies– (I’m obsessed.)
3. In the Dark– 2 Seasons/ story arcs.

And If you need some more reasons to not sleep at night, check out these creepy books.

Anyone out there have any suggestions for me? I need more! Leave your recs in the comments. 😉

xo, Jane

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