It’s almost October, our month of horror, and we’re already thinking ahead by looking through our true crime books. Real life crimes can be just as scary, if not more, than fictional monsters and supernatural horror. The fact these crimes actually happened is what makes them so terrifying.
Serial killers are considered the most horrifying criminals, and they often receive the massive attention from the public and in the news. Jack the Ripper is considered to be the first modern serial killer, though there have been serial killers throughout history. The phrase was coined in the late 20th century.
There are other criminals: murderers, kidnappers, human traffickers, terrorists, arsonists, and more. We’ve included true crime novels covering all number of crimes and criminals, including serial killers. Explore the world of true crime, where criminals from all walks of life abound, hurting people through their actions, getting caught for some, and evading justice for others. Get ready for our month of horror with some of our true crime picks.
DBG05295 Jack the Ripper: murder, mystery and intrigue in London’s East End by Susan McNicoll
In the 1880s, the East End of London became the staging place for a series of bloodcurdling murders that caused outrage and widespread panic throughout the nation. Although many criminologists have speculated as to the identity of the killer, to this day the murderer is known only as Jack the Ripper. Some descriptions of violence. 2005. Marrakesh title.
DBC06579 Shadow on the hill: the true story of a 1925 Kansas murder by Diana Staresinic-Deane
On Decoration Day in 1925, John Knoblock returned to his Kansas farm to find his wife slaughtered on the kitchen floor. Within hours, dozens of lawmen, family members, well-meaning neighbors and gawkers paraded through the Knoblock farmstead, contaminating and destroying what little evidence was left behind. A small team of inexperienced lawmen, including a newly elected sheriff who had never run a murder investigation, attempted to reconstruct and solve the most gruesome murder in the history of Coffey County, Kansas. Adult. Some violence.
DB 107236 Hell’s half-acre: the untold story of the Benders, a serial killer family on the American frontier by Susan Jonusas
Study of the Bender family, whose homestead in Labette County, Kansas, was the site of numerous murders and a mass grave. Discusses the social environment of the early 1870s, the Bender family and their victims, and the investigation and search for the family after neighbors discovered the crime. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2022.
DB 105830 A daughter’s deadly deception: the Jennifer Pan story by Jeremy Grimaldi
Recounting of the life of Jennifer Pan, who was convicted of contracting out hits on her parents, resulting in the death of her mother and the grievous injury of her father. Discusses the choices leading up to the crime and the investigation into the assault. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2016.
DB 101562 We keep the dead close: a murder at Harvard and a half century of silence by Becky Cooper
In 1969, Jane Britton, an ambitious twenty-three-year-old graduate student in Harvard's Anthropology Department--and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President--was found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment. Forty years later, the author, then a Harvard undergrad, was intrigued by the case and spent a decade investigating. Contains some violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2020.
DB100187 A tangled web: a cyberstalker, a deadly obsession, and the twisting path to justice by Leslie Rule
Describes the disturbing case of the 2012 disappearance of Cari Lea Farver. Thirty-seven-year-old Cari would not shirk responsibilities, abandon her son, and run off on an adventure while her dying father took his last breaths. Yet, the many texts from her phone indicated she had done just that. Strong language, some violence, some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2020.
DB 98484 I am not your slave: a memoir by Tupa Tjipombo
The author recounts her experiences being kidnapped and suffering through life in a human trafficking network spanning all of Africa. Describes her encounters with gangs, witchdoctors, corrupt police, smugglers, and fellow trafficking victims. Details her eventual escape. Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex. 2020.
DB 88907 American fire: love, arson, and life in a vanishing land by Monica Hesse
Washington Post writer explores the story behind the string of arson fires that lit up the Eastern Shore's rural Accomack County, Virginia, in 2012. The surprising culprits behind the sixty-two fires were long-time volunteer firefighter and mechanic Charlie Smith and his girlfriend, Tonya Bundick. Strong language. 2017.
DB 108870 White hot hate: a true story of domestic terrorism in America’s heartland by Dick Lehr
"In the spring of 2016, as immigration debates rocked the United States, three men in a militia group known as the Crusaders grew aggravated over one Kansas town's growing Somali community. They decided that complaining about their new neighbors and threatening them directly wasn't enough. The men plotted to bomb a mosque, aiming to kill hundreds and inspire other attacks against Muslims in America. But they would wait until after the presidential election, so that their actions wouldn't hurt Donald Trump's chances of winning. An FBI informant befriended the three men, acting as law enforcement's eyes and ears for eight months. His secretly taped conversations with the militia were pivotal in obstructing their plans and were a lynchpin in the resulting trial and convictions for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. White Hot Hate will tell the riveting true story of an averted case of domestic terrorism in one of the most remote towns in the US, not far from the infamous town where Capote's In Cold Blood was set. In the gripping details of this foiled scheme, we see in intimate focus the chilling, immediate threat of domestic terrorism--and racist anxiety in America writ large." -- Provided by publisher. -- Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2021.
DB 95743 American predator: the hunt for the most meticulous serial killer of the 21st century by Maureen Callahan
Journalist describes the FBI's capture of serial killer Israel Keyes, a quiet, reliable construction worker and devoted father from Alaska who would travel thousands of miles to abduct and murder strangers. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 99118 The last book on the left: stories of murder and mayhem from history’s most notorious serial killers by Ben Kissel
The creators of Last Podcast on the Left have written a book form of the podcast which explores the minds and histories of notorious serial killers Ted Bundy, Richard Chase, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, David Berkowitz, BTK, Andrei Chikatilo, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Violence and strong language. 2020.