BOOKS Or, find me on Goodreads.
A Child Called “It”, Dave Pelzer
This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. (Published 1995)
A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown, Julia Scheeres
This book follows the experiences of five People’s Temple members who went to Jonestown. (Jonestown was the remote settlement of Jim Jones’ religious cohort and the location of the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A total of 918 people died in a mass murder / suicide on November 18, 1978.) (Published 2011)
And the Sea Will Tell, Vincent Bugliosi, Bruce Henderson
Alone with her new husband on a tiny Pacific atoll, a young woman, combing the beach, finds an odd aluminum container washed up out of the lagoon, and beside it on the sand something glitters –a gold tooth in a scorched human skull. The investigation that follows uncovers an extraordinarily complex and puzzling true-crime story. (Published 1991)
Columbine, Dave Cullen
What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we “know” is wrong. It wasn’t about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account that illustrates how Columbine became the template for nearly two decades of “spectacle murders.” (Published 2009)
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson
This books dramatically explores the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. (Published 2003)
The Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer
In what is arguably his greatest book, America’s most heroically ambitious writer follows the short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of America’s prisons who became notorious for two reasons: first, for robbing two men in 1976, then killing them in cold blood; and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on dying for his crime. (Published 1998)
Fire Lover: A True Story, Joseph Wambaugh
The story of John Orr, the most prolific American arsonist of the twentieth century, who was also a fire captain and one of southern California’s best-known and most-respected arson investigators, as well as a writer of firefighting articles and finally of a fact-based novel. (Published 2002)
The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, Charles Graeber
After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed “The Angel of Death” by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history. (Published in 2014)
Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer – America’s Deadliest Serial Murderer, Ann Rule
This is the extraordinary true story of the most prolific serial killer the nation had ever seen — a case involving more than forty-nine female victims, two decades of intense investigative work…and one unrelenting killer who not only attended the author’s book signings but lived less than a mile away from her home. (Published 2005)
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
The author was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial and held a unique insider’s position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the twentieth century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. (Published 2001)
If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, The Goldman Family
In 1994, Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were brutally murdered at her home in Brentwood, California. O.J. Simpson was tried for the crime in a case that captured the attention of the American people, but was ultimately found not guilty of criminal charges. The victims’ families brought civil cases against Simpson, in which he was found liable for willfully and wrongfully causing the deaths of Ron and Nicole by committing battery with malice and oppression. (In 2006, HarperCollins announced the publication for a book in which O.J. Simpson told how he hypothetically would have committed the murders. In response to public outrage that Simpson stood to profit from these crimes, HarperCollins canceled the book. A Florida bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the Goldmans in August 2007 to partially satisfy the unpaid civil judgment, which has risen, with interest, to over $38 million.)
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. A classic work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence. (Published 1994)
On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women, Stevie Cameron
The author chronicling the 1998 disappearances of drug-addicted sex trade workers from Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside, the 2002 arrest of Robert William Pickton, and the long process of his trial, eventual guilty verdict, later appeal and final conclusion. The book was published after bans were lifted and tells the whole story, which includes accounts of Pickton’s notoriety that police never uncovered. (Published 2011)
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, Jeff Guinn
The comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre—the largest murder-suicide in American history. (Published 2017)
The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man’s Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World’s Most Terrifying Killers, Pete Earley
The strange but true story of a man who suffers a traumatic brain injury and as a result is given the ability to converse with the world’s most terrifying criminals. (Published 2012)
Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder, Ann Rule
A shocking and powerful account of the destructive forces that drove Diane Downs, a beautiful young mother, to shoot her three young children in cold blood. (Published 1988)
Strange Piece of Paradise, Terri Jentz
In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate took a cross-country bike trip. As they lay sleeping in the central Oregon desert, a man in a pickup truck deliberately ran over their tent and proceeded to attack them with an axe. The horrific crime was reported in newspapers across the country, but no one was ever arrested. Fifteen years later, Jentz returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered and makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Shockingly, many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. (Published 2007)
The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy, The Shocking Inside Story, Ann Rule
Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting. (Published 1980)
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer
The author takes readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. Ron and Dan Lafferty insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, the author constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief. (Published 2004)
While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness, Eli Sanders
On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love—Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other—and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs. (Published 2016)
Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI, Robert K. Ressler
Face-to-face with some of America’s most terrifying killers, FBI veteran and ex-Army CID colonel Robert Ressler learned from them how to identify the unknown monsters who walk among us–and put them behind bars. Now the man who coined the phrase “serial killer” and advised Thomas Harris on The Silence of the Lambs shows how he is able to track down some of today’s most brutal murderers. (Published 1993)
DOCUMENTARIES and DOCUSERIES
Aokigahara: Suicide Forest (2011)
Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
The Cheshire Murders (2013)
The Champions (2015)
Child of Rage (1990)
Cocaine Cowboys (2006)
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
Dreams of a Life (2011)
Forensic Files (1996-)
The Hunting Ground (2015)
I Am Jane Doe (2017)
The Imposter (2012)
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)
The Keepers (2017)
Making a Murderer (2015)
Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017)
Murder Book (2014-)
The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science (1996-2005)
Nightmare Next Door (2011-)
The Seven Five (2014)
Team Foxcatcher (2016)
Welcome to Leith (2015)
West of Memphis (2013)
What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy (2015)
The Woman Who Wasn’t There (2012)
When Elizabeth Andes was found murdered in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Two juries disagreed. The Cincinnati Enquirer investigates: Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?
Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.
Finding Tammy Jo
She was murdered in 1979. Web sleuths helped ID her. Can this podcast help find her killer?
In the Dark
For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. Reporter Madeleine Baran reveals how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.
Last Podcast on the Left
Every week hosts Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks explore the horrors of the world both imagined and real.
My Favorite Murder
True crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Stay sexy, don’t get murdered.
The podcast tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. We won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us.
Someone Knows Something
Each season documentarian David Ridgen delves into cold cases of missing persons.
A podcast exploring the ongoing prosecution of Stanley Liggins who has been twice convicted for the 1990 murder of 9-year-old Jennifer Lewis. Both convictions have since been overturned, with Stanley Liggins set to go before the court for a third time in May 2017.
Sword and Scale
Covers the underworld of criminal activity and the demented minds that perform the most despicable and unthinkable actions.
The Mind of a Murderer
Six-episode podcast narrated by world renowned criminal psychologist and trial consultant, Dr. Michelle Ward, expands on Dr. Ward’s exclusive and chilling interviews with real life Hannibal Lechter like cold-blooded murderers, getting to the psychological core of how and why people commit murders.
True Crime All the Time
A story told each episode.
Unsolved: A Murdered Teen, a 40-Year Mystery
14-year-old John Zera was a freshman at Franklin High School when he was killed in 1976. In a seven-part podcast, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Gina Barton traces the case through decades of dead ends and false starts to find the present and a new hope for finding a killer.
BONUS FICTION SIDECAR!
The Night Of (HBO)
True Detective (HBO)