While reading fiction can be awesome, sometimes we just want to read something about the real world, something that grabs our attention and will not let go. For many, the true crime genre is one of the best out there. True crime novels look at stories that have gripped the nation and often the world, from Charles Manson to Ted Bundy. Some of these novels are fictionalized accounts of real events, while others stick to ‘just the facts, ma’am.’ Let’s look at some of the best crime novels ever written.
John Krakauer: Missoula
In this epic read, John Krakauer takes on the assaults that took place on the University of Montana campus and their effects on the victims. These cases were believed to have been not handled correctly by the police or the college. Krakauer gets to the heart of sex assault and how it is often treated by the criminal justice system.
Jeff Guinn: Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
Have you ever wondered how Manson became, well, Manson? In this book, Jeff Guinn looks at the circumstances that shaped Charles Manson and his road to becoming a killer. Manson has fascinated people for decades. He not only committed heinous crimes but encouraged others to do so and to cover up for him. Jeff Guinn also penned The Road to Jonestown, about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. This case riveted the world due to the mass suicide that was orchestrated by Jones. For another in-depth tale of Charles Manson, check out Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter.
John Grisham: The Innocent Man
Grisham is known for his fictional legal thrillers, but The Innocent Man is nonfiction and absolutely engrossing. This book looks at the story of Ron Williamson, who at one point was set to be as great as Mickey Mantle, and the charges against him. Grisham weaves a tale of circumstantial evidence, perjuring witnesses, and the destruction of one man’s life.
Val McDermid: Forensics: The Anatomy of a Crime
While this book does not deal with one particular crime, it does delve into the fascinating world of forensic science. McDermid wrote several crime novels before publishing this work. This book takes us from the very beginnings of forensic science to the science-driven forensics we see today. Those who love to read true crime will find this book to be of interest.
Jeremy Grimaldi: A Daughter’s Deadly Deception
While not a story that everyone has heard of, like the Boston Strangler or Jack the Ripper, this is still fascinating. Many true crime readers aim to try and understand what makes criminals do what they do. Is it nature or nurture? What personality elements might indicate that someone is destined for a life of crime? In this book, Grimaldi tells the tale of Jennifer Pan, who led a life of deception. Once this was discovered by her parents, Jennifer took it upon herself to try and eliminate them from the equation.
Catherine Crier: A Deadly Game
Numerous books have been written about Scott Peterson and the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn child. A Deadly Game is one of the best. Crier examines Scott’s behavior and possible motives, along with evidence that was initially withheld from the public. The book also included photos and documents that were not widely circulated.
This is just a hint of the compelling crime novels in circulation. They can be found online, in bookstores and big box stores. Most are available as a hardcover, paperback, or in an electronic format. Other true crime writers, you might enjoy include Ann Rule, Truman Capote, James Ellroy, and Edward Humes.