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

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.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Stephen B. King Why did I love 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.

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

18 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.

Book cover of Shatter

Stephen B. King Why did I love 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.

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…

Book cover of The Mermaids Singing

Stephen B. King Why did I love 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.

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…

Book cover of Blood Work

Stephen B. King Why did I love 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.

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…

Book cover of Sidetracked

Stephen B. King Why did I love 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.

By Henning Mankell, Steven T. Murray (translator),

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.


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Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in serial killers, police, and suicide?

10,000+ 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.

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