Had your fill with all the latest romantic escapades and mystery thrillers at the beach or pool? For a change, how about checking out a book in the true crime genre–one in which an author examines an actual or real life crime and details the actions of real people involved.
Here are some recently published true crime books/ebooks that will keep you riveted with chilling accounts about serial killers, murders and murderers, cults, scandals, scams and con artists.
American Serial Killers : The Epidemic Years 1950-2000 by Peter Vronsky
In this first definitive history of the worst decades of American serial murder, when the number and body count of serial killers exploded, Vronsky tells the stories of the most notable and unusual serial killings from the 1950s to the early twenty-first century. Both perennial “favorites” (Ed Kemper, Jeffrey Dahmer) and many fascinating lesser-known killers such as Melvin Rees, Harvey Glatman and Danny Rolling, are covered.
At Any Cost : A Father’s Betrayal, A Wife’s Murder, And A Ten-Year War For Justice by Rebecca Rosenberg
Shele Danishefsky and Rod Covlin seemed to have it all: an Upper West Side apartment, Danishefsky’s high-profile job conquering Wall Street, and Covlin’s Ivy League degree. But as tensions grew between the two over Danishefsky’s money, she made a meeting with her lawyer to remove her husband from her will. She never made it and was found dead in her bathtub. Soon the two families were battling over the inheritance, their children, and the results of her death, and Covlin grew more desperate to ensure that the money remained his.
The Babysitter : My Summers With A Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan
Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter — the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked — took her and her sister on adventures in his truck. He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.” But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer. Decades later, Rodman made the connection between her buddy and the splashy murder headlines and became obsessed with researching the case.
Framed around one salacious trial in 1891 London, a fascinating and vividly told true-crime narrative about the hunt for one of the first known serial killers, whose poisoning spree in the US, Canada, and England coincided with the birth of forensic science as well as the public’s growing appetite for crime fiction such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels.
This work collects six of Bowden’s most riveting pieces-accounts spanning four decades of searing characters and unsettling tales to illustrate all manner of crimes and the ways technology has progressively altered criminal investigation. From a 1983 story of a campus rape at the University of Pennsylvania that unleashed a debate over the nature of consent when drinking and drugs are involved, to three cold cases featuring the inimitable Long Island private detective Ken Brennan and a startling investigation into a murderer deep within the LAPD’s ranks, shielded for twenty-six years by officers keen to protect one of their own, these stories are the work of a masterful narrative journalist at work-
Couple Found Slain : After A Family Murder by Mikita Brottman
The story of Brian Bechtold, who killed his parents in 1992 at the age of twenty-two. Critically acclaimed author and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman offers literary true crime writing at its best, taking us into the life of a murderer after his conviction-when most stories end but the defendant’s life goes on.
An immersive tale of the killing of a Native American man and its far-reaching consequences for Colonial America. In the summer of 1722, on the eve of a conference between the Five Nations of the Iroquois and British-American colonists, two colonial fur traders brutally attacked an Indigenous hunter in colonial Pennsylvania. The crime set the entire mid-Atlantic on edge, with many believing that war was imminent. Frantic efforts to resolve the case created a contest between Native American forms of justice, centered on community, forgiveness, and reparations, and an ideology of harsh reprisal, based on British law, that called for the killers’ execution.
An investigative journalist explores the shocking practices of NXIVM, a cult run by Keith Raniere and many enablers, detailing its rise as a personal development company, its ability to evade prosecution for decades, and the investigation that finally revealed its dark secrets to the world.
Golden Boy : A Murder Among The Manhattan Elite by John Glatt
Thomas Gilbert Jr. appeared to live a life many only dream of: luxury home, elite schooling, summers in the Hamptons. But Thomas struggled with his mental health, exhibiting signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia, and refusing to seek psychiatric help. When Thomas arrived home one day, he calmly asked his mother to leave, then shot his father in the head. Glatt reconstructs the Gilberts’ lives and those of their friends and relatives, examining the elite world and how Thomas ultimately arrived to murder his father.
The Good Girls : An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro
Two teenage girls in a tiny Indian village were so close that they were known by a single name. One summer night in 2014, the pair went missing. A few hours later, the girls were found hanging in a mango orchard. The investigation into their murders started a national soul-searching about violence against women in India. At first, the girls’ families refused to let the bodies be cut down and demanded an investigation. But what happened? Was it murder, suicide, or an honor killing?
An exposé of the Varsity Blues scandal reveals how an unscrupulous college counselor named Rick Singer preyed on the desperation of wealthy, upper class, insecure parents who sought to have their children admitted to elite colleges to maintain their own social status.
Science is a force for good in the world–at least usually. But sometimes, when obsession gets the better of scientists, they twist a noble pursuit into something sinister. Under this spell, knowledge isn’t everything, it’s the only thing–no matter the cost. Bestselling author Sam Kean tells the true story of what happens when unfettered ambition pushes otherwise rational men and women to cross the line in the name of science, trampling ethical boundaries and often committing crimes in the process
In the ’90s, an elusive serial killer preyed on gay men in New York City. Instead of merely examining the crimes and turning the killer into an object of fascination, the author feelingly portrays the lives of the victims. The bars where they felt free turned out not to be safe spaces. A maintenance worker found the bagged remains of the first victim at a Pennsylvania rest stop. The nicknamed “Last Call Killer” took advantage of an era when it was, for many, difficult to be visibly and openly gay.
The Rope : A True Story Of Murder, Heroism, And The Dawn of The NAACP by Alex Tresniowski
In 1910, a time between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, 10 year old white schoolgirl Marie Smith was brutally killed in the seaside town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. This book weaves this and another story into a narrative. One thread tells of a pedophile, a sheriff, a detective on his first murder case, and the Black laborer who is wrongfully accused of murder and narrowly avoids being lynched. The other story involves Ida B. Wells, Black crusading journalist, abolitionist, and feminist who led an anti-lynching campaign in the 1890s. Through her writings, she was instrumental in helping found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization at the forefront of current events today.
Till Murder Do Us Part : True-Crime Thrillers by James Patterson
A woman begins to suspect that her husband isn’t actually who he says he is, and a teenager has her life upended during the hunt for a missing girl, in two true-crime stories.
This riveting read is the memoir of a reporter-turned-private investigator who looks back at the case that snagged her imagination. It also inspired her change of profession. As a reporter for the Miami Herald, she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero for the murder of two police officers. Years later, Ellen McGarrahan dives back into the criminal Miami of the 1960s and ’70s to take another look at that case. As she follows the threads of evidence—court files, interviews, articles—looking for the truth, she realizes that the questions of who is innocent and who is guilty are complex and difficult to untangle.
A young British college student named Stephen Jackley was obsessed with the inequalities of the global financial crisis that began in 2007. A modern-day Robin Hood, Jackley planned to steal from the rich (banks) and give to the poor. It actually worked—he robbed a series of banks using disguises, elaborate escapes, fake guns, and all—until it didn’t. Journalist Ben Machell had access to Jackley and his diaries for this combo of psychological thriller and heist story.
If you enjoy true crime check out the Library’s new true crime book club, Crime Time, coming in September!
-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian