Library Services Centre

Whether you love it, hate it, or just casually leave it on the background while getting some work done, true crime content is hard to avoid. There are multitudes of podcasts, YouTube channels, documentary films and series to choose from; and it is no different when it comes to the print medium. True crime books have lined bookshelves and bestseller lists for decades, some of which have even been adapted into or inspired widely acclaimed films and shows. These books often offer details or additional insight to cases - such as court documents, transcripts, and first-hand accounts of individuals close to the case - that are not accessible to casual viewers or listeners. Therefore, if you are anything like me, have watched too much reruns of Forensic Files, and have decided to take your morbid curiosity to the next level, picking up some books is the next logical step.


In Cold BloodWhich book do you start with though? I suppose it depends on what exactly you're looking for. Are you looking for more details on a specific case, or more of a case study on certain criminal behaviour and psychologies? Whichever it may be, one book that belongs in every true crime aficionado's book list should be Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. First published in 1966, this non-fiction novel recounts the 1959 quadruple murder of the Clutter family, and the subsequent investigation, trial, and execution of Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock. Considered to have revolutionized the non-fiction genre, Capote's novelization achieves skillful journalism and masterful storytelling, providing an impartial look at the lives of everyone involved without forgetting the immorality of the crime that took place. There has since been some dispute regarding possible exaggerations or fabrications in Capote's account of the case, but the book remains seminal to the true crime genre.


Helter SkelterAnother requisite addition to a true crime fan's reading list would be Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry's Helter Skelter: the True Story of the Manson Murders. Recounting one of the most publicized and horrifying cases of the twentieth century, Helter Skelter provides a unique insight and detail to the case as Bugliosi served as the prosecuting attorney to the 1970 trial of Charles Manson. This close connection gave the authors access to integral court documents, case photographs, and first-hand interview accounts they share with the reader. The amount of detail and research in this book proves why it remains the number one bestselling true crime book to this day. While its intensity will definitely turn casual readers away (it does not hold back on any of the terrible details and photographs), it is definitely worth a read by anyone especially interested in doing a deep dive into the 1969 murders and the notorious Manson family.


HomicideIf you are less interested in the nitty gritty details of a specific case, or just want a bit of a change of pace (just a little bit, since we are still on the true crime kick here), David Simon's account of his yearlong experience with the Baltimore police department's homicide unit is a great read. First published in 1991, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets has since been adapted to a critically acclaimed 90s television show and movie of the same name, while also inspiring another critically acclaimed series - HBO's the Wire (also created by Simon). With its well-known television adaptations, some may feel that reading the book is not as necessary once you have watched the shows, but you can say that about any book with a film or TV adaptation. Unlike the shows, the book follows real detectives and cases that took place during Simon's year with the Baltimore homicide unit, giving readers a more genuine look at what takes place during police investigations, how it affects the people involved, and serves as a bit of a time capsule of a specific side of 1988 Baltimore. Personally, I was convinced to check this book out after my favourite true crime podcast referenced it for what seems like the hundredth time; this should be a no-brainer for any true crime or police procedural fan.


Confident WomenIt might be a bit hard to believe especially with the three books above, but true crime does not always need to be intense or about murder cases. Netflix's recent successes with The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna alone shows that con artists are just as fascinating to true crime fans. If you checked out these documentaries, or would just like to read about more charismatic scammers and nefarious criminal schemes, check out 2021's Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion. Light, entertaining, and informative, Tori Telfer goes over some of history's most notable female con artists while seeing if there is any correlation between the confidence game and the female persuasion. Besides looking at a different type of crime and criminal, this book differs from the three previous on this post as it offers a quick read and should be more accessible to both casual and hardcore true crime fans.


Savage AppetitesIf you have noticed the seemingly newfound popularity of true crime, you may have also noticed that a big portion of their audience is women. I certainly have, especially as my partner sends me multiple “women love true crime” memes throughout the week. Like my partner, author Rachel Monroe questioned this seemingly odd feminine fascination towards crime in her book, Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession. Equal parts personal narrative, true crime reporting, and sociological examination, this book provides an explanation for women's notable interest in true crime content. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the four archetypes she claims women identify with, this investigation is worth a read if you are interested in something a bit different from the usual crime reconstruction, as it moves the focus towards the genre and its audience. At the very least, you can recommend it to anyone wondering why girls love true crime so much.




True crime is definitely not for everyone. By definition, it will always involve upsetting, disturbing, and terrible things happening to very real human beings. The genre however also undeniably satisfies a fascination and intrigue that many of us have. So, if you have been hit by true crime bug, and have decided to add some books to your reading list, definitely check these titles out!


Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn


LSC Library Services Centre
April 25, 2022
show LSC's posts
Stef Waring
April 18, 2022
show Stef's posts
Rachel Seigel
April 11, 2022
show Rachel's posts
Systems LSC
February 7, 2022
show Systems's posts
Selection Services
October 18, 2021
show Selection's posts
Karrie Vinters
June 14, 2021
show Karrie's posts
Sara Pooley
April 19, 2021
show Sara's posts

Latest Posts

Show All Recent Posts



Everything Adult Fiction Adult Non Fiction Children’s Fiction Children’s Non Fiction Graphic Novels AV Multilingual Services Announcements Holidays Social Media Events