Looking for what to read in the vast true crime genre? I’ve rounded up seven very different 2020 true crime books that range from nonviolent for adventure fans to interviews with a Buenos Aires serial killer 30 years after the crimes. Oh, and that whole scandal where celebrities were involved in a criminal conspiracy to get their children into top universities.
by Becky Cooper
Here’s a story about missing people and those who look for them. These are the truly difficult cases that have left everyone baffled because they’re in the “vanished without a trace” category. How can someone just disappear like that without any indication or evidence, and what does that do to their family, friends, and loved ones who are left with no answers? The book follows a handful of people who are dedicated to finding these missing people, from a bloodhound-handler who began by searching for his brother to a California detective who happens to also be one of the world's foremost Bigfoot researchers.
by Ravi Somaiya
History, CIA, KGB, and a dead Swedish economist who was the head of the United Nations: Ravi Somaiya investigates the 1961 plane crash where Dag Hammarskjöld was found dead with an Ace of Spades tucked in his collar. Who was the peace-seeking man, and who were his enemies? Because while pilot error was blamed, the rumors that indicate foul play instead have never stopped… Somaiya uses never-before-seen evidence and new interviews to seek answers.
For fans of The Feather Thief, history, our feathered friends, “heists,” and adventures–this is the true crime book for you. Jeffrey Lendrum was caught smuggling rare falcon eggs at the airport, which were thought to be bombs because the security officials were trained to look for terrorists, not animal smugglers. Joshua Hammer takes you into why and how Lendrum became a globe-trotting smuggler for decades. He also gives fascinating insight into the history of falcons, falconry, and the United Kingdom’s National Wildlife Crime Unit. Like The Feather Thief, this is one of those true crime books that sounds boring but is far from it.
Senior investigative editor for BuzzFeed News, Jessica Garrison takes readers to California's Central Valley, home of Jose Martinez, a man who has confessed to 39 murders. Garrison looks into the hitman who voluntarily turned himself in, those in law enforcement who sought him, his victims, and how someone could get away with these crimes for 35 years based on preying on the weak of our society and not enough people caring about the victims.
Carlos Busqued; Samuel Rutter (Translator)
Argentine author Carlos Busqued looks into not only the week in 1982 where a 19-year-old, Ricardo Melogno, murdered four taxi drivers in Buenos Aires, with forensic documents and newspaper clippings, but also visits Melogno in prison for interviews. Beginning with Melogno describing the crimes, the book also shifts to focus on his life in prison, including misdiagnosis and how he’s currently “incarcerated in perpetuity despite having served his full sentence.”
Whether you caught the film based on this true story or missed it, here’s the tale, told by one of the perpetrators, about how three childhood friends came to dream up, plan, and execute a heist of artwork and rare manuscripts from a university museum their freshman year of college. This is for fans of true crime memoirs, coming-of-age stories, and heists. Also, don’t do this at home kids.
If you hear the names of actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, most people now think of the scandal they were involved in regarding their children and top universities. The investigation of that criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions was nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, and here, Nicole LaPorte looks into the parents, con men, and privilege surrounding the lengths some people will go to to get their kids into top universities.
What to Read Next