Looking for the best true crime books to dive into for 2019?
This list has the current bestsellers according to the latest Amazon sales and highest-rated customer reviews.
We start the list with the hottest true crime novel …
1. A Serial Killer’s Daughter
In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. (from the publisher)
For all we have been confronted with in the BTK story, this book was a glimpse into the personal devastation to Dennis Rader’s own family. Kerri weaves a story giving the reader the background of her growing up years with her father which allows us to truly understand the shock and trauma she has been through since the day of his arrest. I couldn’t lay this down.
2. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara’s compelling investigation of the “Golden State Killer,” who terrorized northern California from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, is one of the best true crime books to come along in a decade.
It’s the story of two obsessions: McNamara’s obsession with the criminal, and whatever abhorrent obsession drove him to commit a series of horrific rapes and murders over ten years. The author, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, describes the crimes and examines clues in an effort to uncover his identity. (from the publisher)
“Both a vivid and meticulous investigation of a twisted predator who terrorized quiet, upper middle-class communities in California for nearly a decade, and a wrenching personal account from a writer who became consumed by her subject.”
(New York Times)
3. The Stranger Beside Me
Ann Rule gives a chilling and intimate description of her time at a crisis hotline alongside her co-worker, the then charming, sensitive and trustworthy Ted Bundy, and the devastating realization that he was a brutal killer hiding in plain sight. After multiple arrests and an escape from jail, Bundy would later confess to the murders of at least thirty-six women and soon after was executed for three cases.
Rule, a certified instructor for police training seminars, prosecutors and forensic science organizations, delves into how this savage killer — a man she thought she knew — could have fooled so many, including a professional like herself. (from the publisher)
“As dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at midnight.”
(The New York Times)
4. Above Suspicion
When rookie FBI agent Mark Putnam received his first assignment in 1987, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream, if not the most desirable location. Pikeville, Kentucky, is high in Appalachian coal country, an outpost rife with lawlessness dating back to the Hatfields and McCoys.
As a rising star in the bureau, however, Putnam soon was cultivating paid informants and busting drug rings and bank robbers. But when one informant fell in love with him, passion and duty would collide with tragic results. (from the publisher)
Mark knows that the right thing to do is to confess and face the consequences of his actions. But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he decides to cover up the crime and lay low as the investigation into Susan’s disappearance begins. The author sums up Mark’s dilemma with the following: “The impulse to confess was crushing, yet the need to go on was overpowering.” It is during this period, after the crime but before he ultimately confesses, that the story is the most compelling.
5. Killers of the Flower Moon
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.
As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. (from the publisher)
Since I was a fan of his from reading The Lost City of Z, I expected this latest book to be the sort of non-fiction I love: the kind that reads like the best fiction. I was not disappointed. What I did not expect was just how infuriated I would become by reading it.
6. The Devil in the White City
Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson’s spellbinding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men–the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World’s Fair, striving to secure America’s place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death.
Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction. (from the publisher)
“So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already.”
7. Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit
Discover the classic behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas’ 25-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country’s most notorious serial killers and criminals – the basis for the upcoming Netflix original series.
In chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases – and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares. (from the publisher)
The author John Douglas, starts off the book going into his background and how he got involved with the Bureau and after that, the book just literally goes case by case, crime by crime, killer by killer, from chapter to chapter with some elements of the author’s personal life progressing through. If you are really into knowing what the mindset of serial killers are (just like the author was) then this book is totally for you.
8. The Innocent Man
Then, on a winter night in 1982, not far from Ron’s home, a young cocktail waitress named Debra Sue Carter was savagely murdered. The investigation led nowhere. Until, on the flimsiest evidence, it led to Ron Williamson. The washed-up small-town hero was charged, tried, and sentenced to death—in a trial littered with lying witnesses and tainted evidence that would shatter a man’s already broken life, and let a true killer go free. (from the publisher)
“A gritty, harrowing true-crime story.”
9. The Big Book of Serial Killers
There is little more terrifying than those who hunt, stalk and snatch their prey under the cloak of darkness. These hunters search not for animals, but for the touch, taste, and empowerment of human flesh. They are cannibals, vampires and monsters, and they walk among us. (from the publisher)
Intriguing, yet disturbing, true crime anthologies that detail a plethora of sadistic, cruel and incredulous murder sprees that infamous serial killers committed.
10. I Will Find You
Are you horrified yet fascinated by abhorrent murders? Do you crave to know the gory details of these crimes, and do you seek comfort in the solving of the most gruesome?
In I Will Find You, the star of Homicide Hunter, Lt. Joe Kenda, shares his deepest, darkest, and never-before-revealed case files from his two decades as a homicide detective and reminds us that crimes like these are very real and can happen even in our own backyards. (from the publisher)
As I listened to Lt. Kenda, I felt as though I was listening to stories from an intelligent man who reminded me of a grandfather figure. He can seem a bit dry or cold at first but has a good sense of humor, and is very wise, not to mention passionate about his former work as a policeman. I became an instant fan.
So those are our top ten novels, but obviously there are many more great reads. We will add to this list as more new novels enter the bestseller list.