Though there are lots of true crime books about horrific murders, serial killers, and disturbing acts of violence, there are just as many about bloodless and non-violent crimes. One of the pleasures of the true crime genre is its diversity. Some true crime books are part memoir; some are pure investigation. Some weave history and social science into the narrative. Others are humorous and lighthearted. The six books on this list represent the vast difference that exists in true crime stories. They’re all nonfiction books, and yes, crime is involved in all of them—but that’s where the similarities end. Maybe you’re looking for a funny but thoughtful collection of stories about real-life female con artists. Or maybe what you want is a more traditional crime narrative about murder and its aftermath. Either way, you’re bound to find something that piques your interest on this list of six new true crime books.
Emma Copley Eisenberg
New in Paperback: In The Third Rainbow Girl, Emma Copley Eisenberg explores the complexes of life in a small Appalachian town through the lens of a brutal murder that went unsolved for decades. In 1980, two young women were murdered in rural West Virginia, while on their way to an annual outdoor peace festival. Though several local men were convicted, the crime was never officially solved. Intrigued by the case, Eisenberg spent years reinvestigating the crime. In this brilliant blend of memoir, true crime, journalism, and Appalachian history, she thoughtfully examines how a crime can haunt a community for generations.
In Guilty Admissions, investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte explores the bizarre and cutthroat world of college admissions, and the lengths the rich and famous will go to to ensure their children get into elite schools. She delves into the details of the Varsity Blues scandal, which involved a group of wealthy parents determined to garner acceptances for their children via bribes and fraud, and recounts the life of Rick Singer, the college admissions counselor willing to help them. Though she takes her subject matter seriously, LaPorte's excellent writing and the larger-than-life cast of characters make this work of nonfiction read almost like a novel.
Master of crime fiction James Patterson is also adept at crime nonfiction, and his talent is on full display in Till Murder Do Us Part. This collection of two true stories of murder and matrimony will have your spine tingling like any good Patterson novel. The titular story, Till Murder Do Us Part, follows Kathi Spiars, who, twelve years after marrying the perfect man, begins to suspect he's not who she thought he was. In Ramp Up to Murder, a teenager moves across the country to start a new life with her boyfriend. But her perfect new life is soon shattering by a missing persons cases back in California, one with haunting consequences.
Not all true crime books are grisly and murder-filled! Confident Women is an entertaining and darkly comedic collection of true stories about female con artists. Though women have been perpetuating daring scams and outrageous cons as long as men have, their infamous feats are often overshadowed by more famous male scammers. Tori Telfer is here to set the record straight; this book brings the long history of women scammers into the spotlight. There's the story of two sisters in the 1800s whose successful spiritualist scam accidentally birthed a movement. And that's not to mention all the cons of the 1900s, a century rife with female embezzlers, con artists, and thieves of all kinds. Startlingly funny and thoroughly feminist, this is an unconventional history you won't want to miss.
Gold may seem like an old-fashioned form of wealth, but the illegal gold trade is actually alive and well—and it's not pretty. In Dirty Gold, a team of reporters from the Miami Herald expose the dangers and human rights violations of the internal gold trade, as well as the stories of the criminals, smugglers, and businessmen getting rich from it. In 2017, FBI agents arrested three Miami businessmen who'd built a multi-billion dollar business smuggling South American gold. Using evidence collected during the prosecution, the Herald reporters uncovered a network of illegal gold trading that stretches from Peruvian mines to American jewelers. In this important and riveting book, they bring to light a little-known criminal world that affects lives on multiple continents.
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.
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