If you’re hankering for some fantastic true crime books this fall, look no further than these nonfiction titles, which run the gamut from bizarre to unbelievable to downright chilling. From in-depth explorations of unsolved mysteries to investigative reporting that delves into the corruption behind some of America’s most powerful institutions, these books are an eclectic blend of memoir, journalism, and history. If criminal history is your jam, you’ll definitely want to check out The Golden Thread, about one of the most infamous murders of the Cold War era. If you enjoy a tell-all style book, you won’t want to miss Inside the NRA, which lays bare the shocking inner workings of one of the country’s most influential political lobbying organizations. If you love mystery books but you’re looking to switch it up with some nonfiction, Chaos is the gripping story of some little-known events surrounding the Charles Manson murders. These books represent the wide range of subjects and styles that the true crime genre encompasses—so get ready for some late nights of unputdownable reading.
An exploration of how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war. In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.
by Jay Weaver
by Jim Wyss
by Kyra Gurney
In March of 2017, a team of federal agents arrested Juan Pablo Granda, Samer Barrage, and Renato Rodriguez, or as they came to be known, "the three amigos." The trio—first identified publicly by the authors of this book—had built a $3.6 billion dollar business in metals trading, mostly illegal Peruvian gold mined in the rain forest.
Their arrest and subsequent prosecution laid bare more than a scheme between a few corrupt traders. Dirty Gold lifts the veil on a massive and very illegal international business that is more lucrative than trafficking cocaine, and often just as dangerous.
A Wall Street Journal national security reporter takes readers into the lives of U.S. Special Forces on the front lines against the Taliban and Islamic State, where a new and covert war is keeping Afghanistan from collapse.
by Tom O’Neill
With Dan Piepenbring
Charles Manson has become one of the most infamous criminals in modern American history, and there has been no shortage of books written about the Manson murders. In Chaos, reporter Tom O'Neill, armed with new and surprising evidence, revisits the two dark nights in Los Angeles when Manson's followers brutally murdered seven people. O'Neill's determination to uncover the truth takes him from the lavish homes of Hollywood celebrates to the inner workings of the CIA. Drawing on two decades of research and reporting, O'Neil sheds new light on the Manson murders and the whole 1960s era.
Joshua L. Powell
In this riveting account by former NRA insider Joshua Powell, readers are treated to a rare look at the inner workings of the NRA, one of the most powerful political organizations in the country. In 2016, Joshua Powell, a lifelong gun advocate, began working as chief of staff for the CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre. In Chaos, he recounts what he found lurking in the upper echelons of the organization: rampant dysfunction, corporate greed, and deliberate propaganda intended to explore the debate over gun control in America. His book exposes some of the disturbing truths about who holds and wields political power in the country. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the past, present, and future of American democracy.
If one of your go-to genres is "lifestyles of the rich and famous," you're definitely going to want to pre-order this book (out February 2021). In Guilty Admissions, Nicole LaPorte takes on the bizarre world of elite college admissions—and the lengths to which parents and college counselors will go to ensure their kids get a spot in the "right" schools. LaPorte centers her exposé around Rick Singer, a shady college counselor who used the need for status in elite circles, as well as the insecurities of wealthy parents, to his advantage. But the book goes far beyond the story of one man, delving into the cutthroat culture of college admissions, the crime it inspires, and the far-reaching consequences of a deeply broken system.
Related: True Stories of White Collar Crime
With Casey Sherman
With Dave Wedge
Bestselling crime author James Patterson turns his keen eye and talent for writing heart-pounding action sequences to true crime in this book about John Lennon's life and death. The Last Days of John Lennon tells two stories: the story of John Lennon's remarkable life, and the story of Mark David Chapman, the man who ended that life. The book encompasses the whole of Lennon's career, from his Beatles days to his solo work and his life with Yoko Ono in New York. But it's as much a crime drama as it is a biography, as Patterson gives equal attention to Chapman's story—that of a man who once considered Lennon his hero and later became obsessed with the idea of murdering him. Patterson brilliantly weaves together these two threads into a book that's as riveting as it is heartbreaking.
We think we know the story of Africa’s Great Lakes region. Following the Rwandan genocide, an idealistic group of young rebels overthrew the brutal regime in Kigali, ushering in an era of peace and stability that made Rwanda the donor darling of the West, winning comparisons with Switzerland and Singapore. But the truth was considerably more sinister.
Vividly sourcing her story with direct testimony from key participants, Wrong uses the story of the murder of Patrick Karegeya, once Rwanda’s head of external intelligence and a quicksilver operator of supple charm, to paint the portrait of a modern African dictatorship created in the chilling likeness of Paul Kagame, the president who sanctioned his former friend’s assassination.
by Ravi Somaiya
If you enjoy true crime that focuses on unsolved mysteries, this is the book for you. The Golden Thread uncovers the truth behind one of the most infamous unsolved crimes of the 20th century. In September 1961, Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN Secretary General, got on a plane in Leopoldville, the capital of the Congo. He was found dead in the jungle hours later. Investigative journalist Ravi Somaiya uses new evidence, interviews, and first-hand accounts to revisit the events of September 1961. He explores the web of powerful governmental and non-governmental organizations that had it out for Hammarskjöld, and the complicated story behind his ultimate death.
What to Read Next
Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor and Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.