The worst thing about a crime is how the effects aren’t limited to just the immediate players—the victim and those who uncover and investigate crimes—but the people whose lives are touched. The best true crime books take a wider perspective on how a crime affects people and their families, whether they were involved or not. These six true crime books are great explorations of criminal history and family members caught in the spotlight.
Guilty Admissions weaves together the story of an unscrupulous college counselor named Rick Singer, and how he preyed on the desperation of some of the country's wealthiest families living in a world defined by fierce competition, who function under constant pressure to get into the "right" schools, starting with pre-school; non-stop fundraising and donation demands in the form of multi-million-dollar galas and private parties; and a community of deeply insecure parents who will do anything to get their kids into name-brand colleges in order to maintain their own A-list status.
In The Baby Thief, Raymond excavates a massive conspiracy that had a profound impact on families across the country: adoption fraud. Georgia Tann was an adoption coordinator who ran orphanages and a sophisticated baby-stealing and baby-selling ring out of Memphis, TN. Tann had connections in high places, recruiting judges, social workers, and other politicians to her cause and paying people to scout for children whose parents couldn't fight back if they were stolen. This is a fascinating and disturbing account of a decades-long criminal conspiracy that has profound influences on how adoption functions today.
In the Best of Families is the unsettling story of how mental illness and violence tore apart a family with connections to the highest office in the land. Roy Miller was a lawyer who performed tax services for Ronald Reagan when he was governor and president, but his home life was far from successful. This book details how his two sons both suffered from schizophrenia—one died by overdose, but his youngest son would go on to brutally attack, rape, and murder his own mother. This tragedy proves that no matter who you are, you're not immune to mental illness or misfortune.
For a true crime memoir that's nonviolent in nature, pick up The Less People Know About Us, Betz-Hamilton's account of how when she was child in the early 1990's, someone stole her parents' identity and got them thousands of dollars in debt. Because this type of theft wasn't as common back then, authorities were at a loss as to how to help, so the family moved...only for their identity to be repeatedly stolen. Certain someone close to them was responsible, they cut all communication with everyone and the author grew up isolated and anxious before going on to become a fraud investigator. This is a memoir about a crime's long-lasting effect on a family, and how it nearly tore them apart.
by Howie Carr
For a fascinating and bizarre tale of crime in family, pick up The Brother Bulger, which tells of two very different brothers. Billy Bulger was a politician who would eventually rise to president of Massachusetts State Senate. Whitey Bulger was a mastermind career criminal who rose to the top of organized crime and became one of the FBI's most wanted criminals. In this book, Carr investigates how two so seemingly different brothers could come from the same family, and whether or not there were more connections between the two as adults than what meets the eye.
by Jose Baez
Foreword by Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez
With George Willis
The trial of Aaron Hernandez captured the nation's attention: A pro football player who was arrested for the murder of a semi-professional football player who was dating his fiancée's sister and then implicated in two more murders. Although Hernandez died while in prison, his case is full of twists and secrets. For the first time, his former fiancée has opened up about what it was like going through the trials and media attention, giving readers an inside look at the fallout of the crime, and the effects on Hernandez's family.
What to Read Next