True crime novels give readers a glimpse into the darker side of the world we live in. Through crime stories, we can explore some of the world’s most dangerous and chilling crimes from a safe distance. Here are the best true crime books to read in 2022.
In May 1996, Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were brutally murdered while backpacking in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, adjacent to the world-famous Appalachian Trail. The young women were skilled backcountry leaders and they had met—and fallen in love—the previous summer, while working at a world-renowned outdoor program for women. But despite an extensive joint investigation by the FBI, the Virginia police, and National Park Service experts, the case remained unsolved for years.
by Leah Sottile
When police in Rexburg, Idaho perform a wellness check on seven J.J. Vallow and his sister, sixteen-year-old Tylee Ryan, both children are nowhere to be found. Their mother, Lori Vallow, gives a phony explanation, and when officers return the following day with a search warrant, she, too, is gone. As the police begin to close in, a larger web of mystery, murder, fanaticism and deceit begins to unravel.
by Sam Kean
The Icepick Surgeon is a true crime book from New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean. This book, publishing in trade paperback this year, guides readers through two thousand years of history, examining what happens when ambition pushes people to commit crimes and cross ethical boundaries in the name of science.
Paul Holes; Robin Gaby Fisher (As told to)
Paul Holes became a popular public figure as the detective who found the Golden State Killer. Now, the retired cold case investigator is telling his own story in the book Unmasked. This book takes readers on a journey through Holes’ career and the disturbing and shocking things he witnessed as someone who hunts monsters for a living.
Jimmy the King is a story of murder that spans over four decades. After a thirteen year-old boy was brutally murdered in the suburbs of Suffolk County, New York in 1979, a local teenager named Jimmy Burke emerged with a convenient story to tell. For his cooperation, Jimmy was awarded with a job as a police officer and thus began his climb to the top of one of the country’s largest law jurisdictions. Jimmy Burke was a corrupt cop who used gangster tactics to control his jurisdiction. He and his crew essentially ruled the town. But then it all came crashing down in the most unexpected way.
Though told through a narrative lens, Chuck Hogan’s Gangland is an epic thriller based on the true story of Tony Accardo, the longest-reigning mob capo in history. Set in the 1970s, this book follows the story of what happens after the Christmas gift Accardo gets for his wife is stolen along with other items in a jewelry heist. Accardo sends his loyal soldier Nicky to track down and return all of the items, by any means necessary.
The Missing Cryptoqueen is the incredible inside story of the world’s biggest crypto con. By March 2017 more than $4 billion had been invested in OneCoin in dozens of countries, but the whole thing turned out to be nothing more than a pyramid scheme. And Ruja Ignatova, the brains behind the cryptocurrency, had disappeared. This is the story of one of the biggest scams of the 21st century and the woman who got away with it.
Duncan McNab’s The Snapshot Killer is a chilling look inside the mind of a serial killer. Christopher Wilder was a predator who first caught the attention of law enforcement in Sydney when as a teenager he was charged with rape. Then he moved to Florida where he continued to prey on young girls, luring them with promises of a modeling career. Wilder hid in plain sight and could have been caught several times, but he wasn’t. This book looks at how Wilder was able to get away with these crimes for so long, and it reveals the tragic stories of his victims.
Charles Bosworth; Joel Schwartz
The case of Betsy Faria has captivated millions and is now the subject of NBC’s miniseries The Thing About Pam. On December 27th, 2011, Betsy Faria’s husband Russell found her lying dead, stabbed fifty-five times. In spite of the fact that Russell had a solid alibi and there was little evidence pointing to him as the killer, he was somehow still convicted. But defense attorney Joel J. Schwartz quickly recognized who the real killer was.
John E. Douglas; Mark Olshaker
When A Killer Calls is a true crime book from legendary FBI criminal profiler John E. Douglas. This book tells the chilling story of Douglas’s effort to identify and catch Larry Gene Bell, one of the most dangerous serial killers Douglas ever faced.
by Gregg Olsen
At 5.02 pm on June 5th, 1986, a call came into the local sheriff's office in the small town of Auburn, Washington State from Stella Nickell. Her husband Bruce was having a seizure. As the officers arrived on the scene, Bruce was already dead.
Forensics identified that Bruce had consumed headache pills laced with cyanide and in an attempt to cover her tracks, Stella saw to it that a stranger would also become her next victim of the cyanide-tainted painkillers.
What would drive a seemingly normal outgoing and popular mum and wife to kill?
As the investigation began to unfold, Stella’s daughter Cynthia notified federal agents of her mother’s crimes. But she didn’t reveal everything…
by Scott Higham
by Sari Horwitz
The definitive investigation and exposé of how some of the nation's largest corporations created and fueled the opioid crisis—from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters who first uncovered the dimensions of the deluge of pain pills that ravaged the country and the complicity of a near-omnipotent drug cartel.
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Emily Martin has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. She’s a contributing editor at Book Riot and blogs/podcasts at Book Squad Goals.