There’s something about murder that draws us to the subject, making it so we can’t look away. If you’re curious about some of the darker true crime cases throughout history, pick up any of these ten new nonfiction books about murder, serial killers, and other atrocities.
The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro
One night in 2014, cousins Padma and Lalli went missing in the tiny village of Katra Sadatganj. Family and friends noted their absence almost immediately and anxiously searched for the girls, and they were found hours later, murdered. They made headlines when their families initially refused to let their bodies be removed from where they were discovered, and Faleiro dives into the complexities of life for women in rural India, and how Padma and Lalli’s case struck a chord with millions.
The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan
If we came face to face with a serial killer, would we be able to sense the darkness? Most of us would like to think so, but here Liza Rodman tells of how she grew up lonely, with her single mom working long hours. She spent much of her time with a babysitter her mom hired, a handyman who worked at the same motel she was employed at. That babysitter turned out to be Tony Costa, a serial killer who terrorized Massachusetts for years…and Liza never put two and two together until decades later.
In the late 80’s and into the early 90’s, a killer known as the Last Call Killer preyed on gay men in New York City, killing them and leaving the gay community fearful for their lives. He would visit gay bars and identify his victims, but despite his campaign of terror, little was published about this serial killer, and knowledge of him was often swept away by news of AIDs crisis and high murder rates in NYC. This book aims to examine his reign of terror, and give voice to the victims.
From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo
This nonfiction account of the murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit in 1982 not only examines a brutal crime, but also covers how the two white men to blame got off on manslaughter charges and absurdly light sentences. Their sentences sparked protests across the country that bolstered a federal civil rights trial, starting the Asian American movement and spreading raising awareness for racism while fighting against hate.
Murder at the Mission: A Frontier Killing, Its Legacy of Lies, and the Taking of the American West by Blaine Harden
In this complex book that looks at the much-repeated stories of history, Harden examines two historical figures that had a tremendous impact on the American West. When thirteen white colonists were murdered by a group of Cayuse, this massacre was seen as justification for unspeakable violence and genocide that followed towards Native communities. Harden turns the narrative on its head and shows how propaganda led to more violence, which had had a ripple effect to this very day.
In the summer of 1722, two white fur traders killed an Indigenous hunter, sparking tensions that led to a massive investigation and debate on the nature of justice. Eustace is a historian who recreates this event in history, and shows how one act of violence demonstrated the sharp contrast in ideals and values held by European colonists and the various Indigenous nations of the mid-Atlantic region, even as Indigenous peoples advocated for justice and peace in the face of violence.
Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder by Mikita Brottman
While this book starts with a brutal double homicide, it’s not where it ends up. Brottman examines the case of Brian Bechtold, who confessed to the murder of his parents. The book follows not only the murders, but Brian’s fate after the confession and the violence and trauma he experiences in various psych wards, revealing that they aren’t always what we think.
She Kills Me: The True Stories of History’s Deadliest Women by Jennifer Wright
Want a collection of all sorts of lady killers that you’ve never heard of? This collection dives into the stories of forty female killers throughout history, subverting the commonly held expectation that only men are killers and women are merely their victims.
The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science by Sam Keane
Science isn’t always pretty, and scientific advancement has often come at the cost of human life. In this book, Keane looks at all of the ways people throughout history have crossed the boundaries of ethics and humanity in their pursuit of science, from ancient Egyptians to the experimentation on enslaved Africans all the way up to the Manhattan Project.
In the Victorian era, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream murdered ten people in North American and Great Britain before he was brought to trial in London in 1892. This book looks at the career of a serial killer, the birth of forensic science, and how much power medical professional hold when their patients trust them completely.
Looking for more dark and chilling reads like these new true crime books about murder? Check out our list of the best true crime books of 2020, and our recommendations for the best murder mysteries for book clubs.
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