James Patterson is best known for his mystery and thriller books, but he’s also the author of five great true crime books that explore the same themes and many of the same crimes as his mystery novels. If you’re a fan of Patterson’s fiction and are thinking about giving nonfiction a go, pick up any of these fascinating, thrilling James Patterson true crime books about real-life murder, abuse, kidnapping, scandal, and legal drama.
In Filthy Rich, Patterson goes back to Jeffrey Epstein's origins by telling how this man, who began his career as a teacher, soon switched to finance and became one of the biggest financiers in New York. Epstein was notable for his very wealthy and famous connections, from Donald Trump to Britain's Prince Andrew. But his empire began to crumble when in 2005 he was arrested and convicted of underage sex and solicitation. He was sentenced to only 18 months. Although the book was released in 2016 and doesn't cover Epstein's 2018 arrest on federal charges and his subsequent suspicious death, this book is an examination of how Epstein amassed his power, how he was brought down, and how his wealth helped him get off with a lighter sentence in 2005, with interviews and court documents to help tell the full story.
The first in the Murder is Forever series of true crime thrillers, this is a collection of two true crime stories made famous by the Discovery TV series of the same name. In the first story, "Murder, Interrupted," a wealthy financier wants his wife out of the way, and he has the means to hire someone else to do his dirty work for him. When the killer misses his mark, he turns on the man who hired him in a deadly showdown. In "Mother of All Murders," a single mom named Dee Dee has poured all of her energy into caring for her chronically ill daughter, Gypsy Rose. When Gypsy Rose is a teenager, she falls in love for the first time and figures out that she's not actually sick–and exacts her revenge. This story has been made popular with the new Hulu series, which means that Murder, Interrupted is a must-read for all the background info that doesn't make its way onscreen.
In this collection, murder strikes disturbingly close to home. "Home Sweet Murder" tells the story of a married couple going about their normal evening routine when their doorbell rings. They answer it and find a man in a suit who claims to be an SEC agent, but by the time the evening is over, two people are dead. In "Murder on the Run," a gruesome double murder in Omaha, Nebraska shocks the city. A housekeeper and her young charge are found dead, and the police promise the boy's parents they will do everything to find out who did it, not expecting just how far from home the case will take them.
The first story in this collection is straight from many people's nightmares: In "Murder Beyond the Grave" a wealthy man with a happy life is kidnapped and placed in a box, then buried in the ground with just enough oxygen to last him forty-eight hours. But why? In "Murder in Paradise," a couple are excited to turn a rustic property in the Sierra Nevada mountains into a hotel, but they're unaware just how despicable this idea is to the locals. After a horrible shooting, it becomes clear that outsiders and their new business ventures are definitely unwelcome by some.
Aaron Hernandez was one of the youngest players to be recruited to the NFL, and set records and appeared in the Super Bowl during his short career. Then it came crashing down, with his arrest in 2013 and murder charges. He was not only found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but he was also implicated in the murder of two others before he was discovered dead in his jail cell. His case received media attention because it was discovered after his death that Hernandez had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition he received while playing football that could have explained his erratic behavior and poor decision-making during the murders. This is a riveting account of the fall of the All-American football player.
James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.
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Tirzah Price is a writer and Book Riot contributing editor. Find her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.