11 Fascinating Books That Will Turn You Into a True Crime Junkie

From “Serial” to “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” the true crime genre has seen a recent renaissance in pop culture. Tales of murder, mayhem, robbery, and corruption have always been compulsively readable for true crime fans. Here are expertly written true crime books where you can discover some of the darkest and oddest moments in history. Even if you’re not a true crime junkie, you’ll enjoy these compelling narratives and fascinating tales.

Careless People
by Sarah Churchwell

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his glamorous wife, Zelda, arrived in New York and drank, fought, and partied constantly. As he began writing THE GREAT GATSBY, a highly publicized double murder was committed in nearby New Jersey. In CARELESS PEOPLE, Sarah Churchwell weaves a stunning double narrative: a murder mystery and the effects of its media circus on 1920s culture and Fitzgerald’s writing.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt

This haunting first-person account of one of the most scandalous crimes in Savannah history follows the shooting death of a local prostitute by a well-respected antiques dealer. Was it murder or self-defense? Everyone in town has their opinions, and you’ll find yourself changing your mind multiple times while reading.

Duel with the Devil
by Paul Collins

With the overwhelming success of the musical “Hamilton,” interest in this Founding Father has reached a fever pitch lately. Yet many aren’t aware that he teamed up with his bitter rival, Aaron Burr—creating the United States’s first legal dream team—to defend a man accused of murdering his young lover.

The Orchid Thief
by Susan Orlean

Dangerous obsession and greed meet in this wickedly funny modern classic, which follows an eccentric plant dealer as he attempts to poach the endangered ghost orchid from a Florida preserve and clone it for profit. This true crime book is actually a charming, passionate underdog story.

The Girls of Murder City
by Douglas Perry

Musical theater fans know “Chicago” as one of Broadway’s most popular musicals. In this glitzy and fast-paced narrative, we meet the real women who inspired the murderous Velma and Roxie and learn how one female journalist turned these dangerous “jazz babies” into pop culture icons.

The Devil in the White City
by Erik Larson

Erik Larson solidified his reputation as one of the best modern history writers with this impeccably researched and gorgeously wrought story of two men: the architect behind the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the charlatan behind the World’s Fair Hotel, a building which featured a gas chamber and crematorium, perfect for disposing of his victims.

Blood Work
by Holly Tucker

When a local madman dies after a physician transfused calf’s blood into him in 1600s France, the physician—and science—go on trial for murder. A fascinating look at how far we’ve come and how far we have to go in medicine, BLOOD WORK clearly illustrates the fears of scientific advances, the battle over superstition, and their relationships to crime.

Little Demon in the City of Light
by Steven Levingston

At the height of the Gilded Age, a brutal conman and his infatuated mistress murdered a court official. Together, the lethal couple escaped to Paris and soon became the subject of sensationalized French tabloids. The unexpected plot twists and passionate writing in this book will transport you to the gaslights and boulevards of Paris at its golden zenith.

The Invention of Murder
by Judith Flanders

From Sherlock Holmes to Jack the Ripper, Victorian England has long been romanticized as the foggy scene of countless brutal crimes. This book explores why the Victorians were fascinated with—and even entertained by—murder and how it helped invent the modern detective.

Unwise Passions
by Alan Pell Crawford

Few events of the early United States were as shocking as the trial of eighteen-year-old Nancy Randolph. Did she kill her illegitimate infant? And how were several of the Founding Fathers, including Patrick Henry, involved? Nancy’s indomitable spirit shines through this intriguing and intimate narrative.

Green River, Running Red
by Ann Rule

GREEN RIVER, RUNNING RED is Ann Rule’s most intimate and tragic book about crime. She focuses on the victims and grants them the respect and dignity they were often denied before and after the police investigations. This is a compulsively readable snapshot of a community terrified and also willing to turn a blind eye.