12 of the Most Fascinating True Crimes You’ve Never Heard Of

History buffs know that the past is filled to the brim with tales of dastardly deeds, shocking crimes, and felons who flaunted breaking the law. Below, however, are 12 lesser-known true-crime tales, proving once again that real life is stranger—and often darker—than fiction.

The Rescue Artist
by Edward Dolnick

When Edvard Munch’s "The Scream" was effortlessly stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo, the Norwegian police were humiliated. Enter Charley Hill, a brilliant and colorful Scotland Yard investigator who uncovers this larger-than-life heist and takes readers on a fascinating and rollicking ride through the art underworld.

by James L. Swanson

With breathless pacing and intense suspense, MANHUNT is as gripping as your favorite fictional thrillers. Discover the little-known story of the painful days after Lincoln’s assassination when John Wilkes Booth made a fraught journey into the Confederacy with a broken leg and the Union cavalry on his heels.

Under the Banner of Heaven
by Jon Krakauer

A gripping dual narrative of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a violent double murder committed in the name of God by two Mormon brothers. Jon Krakauer explores the tense relationship between violence and fundamentalism in this provocative narrative.

Midnight in Peking
by Paul French

In 1937 colonial Peking, China, amid the fear of invasion and rampant superstitions, the body of a British schoolgirl was discovered. Panic spread as rumors of secret societies and sex rings flew. In MIDNIGHT IN PEKING, China expert Paul French posits a solution to this unsolved mystery that’s as engrossing as those of Agatha Christie.

I Am Murdered
by Bruce Chadwick

I AM MURDERED depicts the scandalous case of the suspected poisoning of Declaration of Independence signer and beloved public figure George Wythe. Who committed this dastardly crime, and what did the subsequent trial reveal about class and racial tensions, justice, and slavery in the Virginia of the nineteenth century?

Under the Black Flag
by David Cordingly

Pirates have long been romanticized by Hollywood and revered as folk heroes. So it’s easy to forget that these swashbucklers were dangerous criminals. In this authoritative text, David Cordingly analyzes the truths behind the myths and investigates the realities of infamous pirates like Sir Francis Drake and Captain Kidd.

The Maul and the Pear Tree
by P. D. James and T. A. Critchley

From a master mystery writer comes a startling investigation into a brutal series of murders committed within two weeks in 1811 England. Explore the dark alleys of Regency-era London and attempt to determine just who bludgeoned two seemingly random families to death.

The Last Witch of Langenburg
by Thomas Robisheaux

Travel to a tiny hamlet in 1600s Germany, where a local woman was accused of murder—and witchcraft. In the ensuing investigation, panic, paranoia, and superstition reigned supreme. In vivid detail, Thomas Robisheaux uses contemporary records and correspondence to craft a horrifying tale of witchery.

Starvation Heights
by Gregg Olsen

An engrossing tale of quackery and greed, STARVATION HEIGHTS is a crime tale unlike any other. In the woods of the Pacific Northwest, Linda Hazzard promoted her miracle “fasting treatment” to lose weight. Her victims did not know that her sanatorium was a front for her to isolate, rob, and eventually dispose of them.

Go Down Together
by Jeff Guinn

Few criminals have captured the public’s romantic imagination like Bonnie and Clyde. Yet most of what we know comes from legends and Hollywood. GO DOWN TOGETHER provides an exhaustive, accurate, and thrilling exploration of the deadly couple who desired fame even more than they did money.

The Murder of the Century
by Paul Collins

When severed body parts are discovered throughout Gilded Age New York City, the citizens and media moguls—including William Randolph Hearst—are electrified. With clear-eyed and engaging writing, Collins fully analyzes this stunning crime and how its effects on media are still felt today.

Arc of Justice
by Kevin Boyle

Behind the jazz and speakeasies of 1920s Detroit, racial tensions boiled. When a black doctor moved into a white neighborhood, a mob arrived on his doorstep, and a shooting and panic ensued. What follows is a controversial courtroom drama that includes the famous Clarence Darrow and one man struggling to overcome racism.