The best fictional books on catching a serial killer; and understanding how they became monsters

Stephen B. King Author Of Forever Night
By Stephen B. King

Who am I?

Like most people I know, I have always been fascinated with serial killers, and more importantly why they do what they do. What makes one man murder multiple victims while another with a similar upbringing sells white goods and wouldn’t attract a traffic ticket. In my books, I am as interested in showing my readers why a killer kills, as I am in the hunt to catch him. My goal is to not so much get the reader to ‘like’ the antagonist but to understand, and dare I say even feel sorry for him. We are all products of our environment and upbringing, yet some of us murder others for fun.


I wrote...

Forever Night

By Stephen B. King,

Book cover of Forever Night

What is my book about?

Paul Williams is an ex-SAS soldier who suffered physical and psychological injuries during an Afghanistan battle. After his wife Amanda leaves him, Williams begins a search to find and murder her. The army has trained him never to fail, never give up, and survive at all costs, and he's determined to succeed. Using disguises, Williams passes for 'normal,' but he strikes ruthlessly when he finds any woman who resembles Amanda because he's incapable of mercy.

Williams has quickly become the worst serial killer in the State's history, and Detective Inspector Dillon Bradley heads a task force to stop him. But Williams has his own agenda, to cause as much havoc as possible. He'll succeed in locating Amanda or die trying and take as many police officers as possible with him.

The books I picked & why

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The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris,

Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Why this book?

The Silence of the Lambs is a fantastic, and unique story about an FBI agent, Clarice Starling, trying to get one imprisoned serial killer (Hannibal Lecter) to help catch another, nicknamed Buffalo Bill. If she is successful, she will save the next victim who has already been abducted. We get to see inside the minds of two mass murderers and see their motivations, plus a first-rate exciting read.

The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Silence of the Lambs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknames "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs--an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.


Shatter

By Michael Robotham,

Book cover of Shatter

Why this book?

Trust me when I say that any book by Michael Robotham will not disappoint, but this one is something special. Shatter features psychologist Joe who has his own problems and aids the police in tracking down a serial killer who can destroy his victims by getting them to kill themselves. Never have I read a book that has taken me on such an emotional roller-coaster.

Shatter

By Michael Robotham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shatter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A naked woman in red high-heeled shoes is perched on the edge of Clifton Suspension Bridge with her back pressed to the safety fence, weeping into a mobile phone. Clinical psychologist Joseph O'Loughlin is only feet away, desperately trying to talk her down. She whispers, 'you don't understand,' and jumps.

Later, Joe has a visitor - the woman's teenage daughter, a runaway from boarding school. She refuses to believe that her mother would have jumped off the bridge - not only would she not commit suicide, she is terrified of heights.

Joe wants to believe her, but what would drive…


The Mermaids Singing

By Val McDermid,

Book cover of The Mermaids Singing

Why this book?

Tony Hill is one of the finest literary characters in print. He is an emotionally troubled psychologist brought in by police to profile a serial killer who is using medieval torture methods to murder his victims. His skill is to understand why the killer is killing, and to empathize with him. This book spawned the British TV series The Wire in the Blood, book 2 in the series.

The Mermaids Singing

By Val McDermid,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mermaids Singing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this special 20th anniversary edition, Lee Child introduces the Gold Dagger award-winning serial killer thriller that began the Number One bestselling crime series featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill, hero of TV's much-loved Wire in the Blood.

You always remember the first time. Isn't that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder...

Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one's different - this one's on the loose.

Four men have been found mutilated and tortured. As fear grips the city, the police turn to…


Blood Work

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of Blood Work

Why this book?

Retired FBI profiler Terry McCaleb is recovering from a heart transplant he required after a heart attack he suffered while hunting a serial killer. When a woman urges him to help investigate the murder of her sister who was shot dead during a robbery, Terry discovers it is her heart he received. Possibly the killer wanted McCaleb to recover so he could resume his pursuit. This is one of the finest stories I have ever read; deeply moving, and a very exciting read.

Blood Work

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Terry McCaleb, one of the most effective serial-killer investigators in the history of the FBI, hunts down his heart donor's killer. An unputdownable story from the award-winning No. 1 bestselling author.

'Blood Work' - that's what Terry McCaleb used to call his job at the FBI. Eight weeks ago he was a dead man, but now someone else's heart is keeping him alive. Then a newspaper report of his brush with death brings him an unwanted visitor. Graciela Rivers reveals to McCaleb that the anonymous donor of his heart was her murdered sister, and that the police investigation into the…


Sidetracked

By Henning Mankell,

Book cover of Sidetracked

Why this book?

Henning Mankell (RIP) was the master of the ‘troubled detective’ Kurt Wallander, who is trying to find a murderer while his own life is in tatters. This hunt for a serial killer who scalps his victims, is a rich tapestry of character development, police procedure, and a deeply disturbed killer. This is one of the finest stories of the dark Scandinavian crime thriller genre, and spawned a major TV series starring Kenneth Branagh.

Sidetracked

By Henning Mankell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sidetracked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Midsummer approaches, and Inspector Kurt Wallander prepares for a holiday with the new woman in his life, hopeful that his wayward daughter and his ageing father will cope without him.

But his restful summer plans are thrown into disarray when a teenage girl commits suicide before his eyes, and a former minister of justice is butchered in the first of a series of apparently motiveless murders. Wallander's desperate hunt for the girl's identity and his furious pursuit of a killer who scalps his victims will throw him and those he loves most into mortal danger.

WINNER OF THE CRIME WRITERS'…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in serial killers, police, and suicide?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about serial killers, police, and suicide.

Serial Killers Explore 184 books about serial killers
Police Explore 165 books about police
Suicide Explore 107 books about suicide

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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