What is it about true crime and unsolved mysteries that entice us so? Maybe it’s the fact that we can devour the grisly details of unsolved murders and other crimes while safe at home, curled in an armchair or under a blanket. Maybe it’s because we want to unravel the mysteries of the criminal mind from the inside out. Or maybe it’s just plain old curiosity. Whatever the reason, there is no end of demand for movies, TV shows, podcasts, and books that delve deep into the lives of criminals and their victims. If you are true crime obsessed, here are some of the best true crime books to keep you up at night.
While attending Harvard, author Becky Cooper learns about the 40-year-old unsolved murder of graduate student Jane Britton. Though the case has been obscured by rumors and falsehoods, Cooper is determined to learn the truth. She uncovers a tale that is sadly still common today: a tangled web of sexism and secrets that took the life of a promising, ambitious young woman.
Former crime reporter Michael Connelly spent years covering homicide squads across the United States. He makes excellent use of those experiences in Crime Beat, a series of gripping crime articles spotlighting the most memorable cases and personalities Connelly encountered. Humanizing details and hair-raising murders make for exciting, edge-of-your-seat reading.
Israel Keyes is an unnerving figure, even for a serial killer. The level of meticulous preparation he exhibited is disturbing, especially as it allowed him to commit gruesome murders from New Jersey to Alaska with impunity. Author Maureen Callahan relates the story of Keyes' crimes and belated capture with spine-tingling intensity.
In the late 1990s, Colombia's rural and indigenous communities were ravaged by violence. Paramilitary groups kidnapped, tortured, and murdered thousands while the government and the military looked the other way. This book tells the harrowing story of how a brave few risked—and, in some cases, lost—their lives to expose the depth of the corruption and bring change to their country.
Mary Kay McBrayer
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Eileen Gonzalez is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She has a Master’s degree in communications and years of experience writing about pop culture. She contributes to Book Riot and Foreword Reviews, and she occasionally tweets at @eileen2thestars.