The best dark fiction serial killer books

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in serial killers began when I was a teen watching horror movies with my mom. I learned all I could about them—even became a horror special-effects makeup artist. Eventually, I had to quit due to my connective tissue disorder (Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). It put me on a path of writing. I love digging into the darker side of humanity—murder or mental illness. The story of a serial killer who could challenge the reader to see disability in a new light came to me, and I had to write her story, if not just so I could dive into the psyche of another serial killer.

I wrote...

Another Elizabeth

By Elle Mitchell,

Book cover of Another Elizabeth

What is my book about?

Another Elizabeth is a gripping literary psychological horror novel that readers will sink their teeth into. Elizabeth Dauphine’s life is taking a turn. She has three jobs, a boyfriend that loves her too much, and a recent diagnosis of Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She’s coming apart at the seams. Now all she cares about is keeping her promise to her younger self before her body fails her—kill without getting caught. Can Elizabeth physically handle satisfying her dark desire and maintaining her carefully built façade of normalcy? And if so, will she be able to stop with just one victim?

*This is a dark book with many graphic situations. There is no sexual assault or rape. No animals are tortured or die.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Certain Hunger

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

An engrossing read about a food critic’s life, bumpy career, and murders. There is death and consumption, sex and violence; there is depravity in the mundane. Sometimes voices sparkle, others pop off the page, and then there is Chelsea G. Summer’s Dorothy Daniels. She dug into my brain and picked at it like a scab. From the first page, Summers hooked me on a razor-sharp fishing line. Dorothy recounts stories like an old friend would—if your old friend would describe killing a man and her vagina in equal parts disturbing and eloquent language. There was disgust but also a sense of empowerment. I wanted all of her dirty little secrets. And oh, does Dorothy love to talk.

By Chelsea G. Summers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of Vanity Fair's Books That Will Get You Through This Winter
“One of the most uniquely fun and campily gory books in my recent memory... A Certain Hunger has the voice of a hard-boiled detective novel, as if metaphor-happy Raymond Chandler handed the reins over to the sexed-up femme fatale and really let her fly." ―The New York Times

Food critic Dorothy Daniels loves what she does. Discerning, meticulous, and very, very smart, Dorothy’s clear mastery of the culinary arts make it likely that she could, on any given night, whip up a more inspired dish than any one…

Book cover of They Never Learn

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

Scarlett Clark is a bi serial killer who kills bad men. Carly Schiller is a queer student who just escaped an abusive father. Their storylines are equally gripping, with moments of unexpected intensity in both lust and fear. Layne Fargo creates a world so grounded in reality that, as a woman, it was painful to read at times—micro-aggressions, normalized inappropriate touching. Fargo doesn’t exaggerate it, she just exposes it as part of the narrative. Better yet, she gives a glimmer of equalization in the form of Scarlett who focuses her urge to kill in a direction that’s easy to root for, to want to read. It was wanting a serial killer to go on with her work that made this book and Scarlett a standout.

By Layne Fargo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Never Learn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the “raw, ingenious, and utterly fearless” (Wendy Walker, USA TODAY bestselling author) Temper comes a dynamic psychological thriller about two women who give bad men exactly what they deserve.

Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies…

Book cover of Dead Inside

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

In most procedurals, you root for the “bad guy” to get caught. Noelle Holten created a killer you want to see get away, stay hidden in the shadows, and continue doing the good work. The story unfolds from the perspectives of battered women, the abusers, and the detective constable (UK term for lowest-ranking detective). Telling the story from so many points of view brings a level of tension that one finds in suspense or thriller novels, which is why it’s made it on this list. As I read the violence committed against innocent women, it was impossible not to echo many characters in the book as they grapple with wanting to find the killer. It’s that waffling that makes each horrible man’s death more satisfying than the last.

By Noelle Holten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Hugely confident ... harrowing, visceral ... recommended' Ian Rankin

'Kept me hooked' Angela Marsons

'An excellent read' Martina Cole

'Gritty, dark and chilling' Mel Sherratt

A dark and gripping debut crime novel - the first in a stunning new series - from a huge new talent.

The killer is just getting started...

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood - who is connected to all three victims - is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser…

Book cover of American Psycho

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

I must start off by saying that I don’t recommend this book to most people. Why put it on a recommendation list, you wonder? Because it was a stunning, hard-to-read, sickening, shocking, brutal, dull, fascinating, darkly humorous, well-written novel that is on most people’s disturbing or DNF (did not finish) lists for a reason. I feel I would be remiss not to have it on this list. I don’t know if I can say I loved a book like this, but Bret Easton Ellis wrote a novel that will always stick to my ribs for its casual violence, its blasts of extreme sexuality, and most of all, Patrick Bateman himself. He will certainly be one of the most memorable serial killers of all time.

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked American Psycho as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patrick Bateman is 26 and works on Wall Street. Handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent, he is also a psychopath.

Book cover of Rain Will Come

Elle Mitchell Why did I love this book?

The biggest strength of this book is a large spoiler, which is a shame. I’d love to gush about it. You (should you choose to read it) get to learn about it as the work unfolds, though. For that, I’m jealous. Who doesn’t love to enjoy something so fun for the first time? The choice of victims and the reason for the kills makes the serial killer so compelling I rooted for the detective to always be one step behind. I loved him, don’t get me wrong. He is flawed and damaged, and I wanted him to succeed eventually. Thomas Holgate makes it easy to do that—want them both to “win”—as both have a point-of-view. The book was fun, interesting, and just a little brutal. 

By Thomas Holgate,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A thrilling, page-turning debut about a twisted killer and a broken cop-both with nothing to lose.

Paul Czarcik, the longest-tenured detective in the Illinois Bureau of Judicial Enforcement, puts the rest of the team to shame. Ruthless and riddled with vices, Czarcik always gets his man. And fast. Until now...

A double slaying isn't the open-and-shut case of urban crime he's used to. Connecting it to a high-profile Texas judge, Czarcik realizes something bigger is going on. It's the work of a serial killer for whom Chicago is just the beginning. Now he's inviting Czarcik to play catch-me-if-you-can on a…

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The Pact

By Lisa Darcy,

Book cover of The Pact

Lisa Darcy Author Of The Pact

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Cat lover Traveler Reader Amateur tennis player Foodie

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Pact is a contemporary fiction novel about Australian sisters, Samantha and Annie, who are doubles tennis champions. This story amplifies the usual sibling issues and explores their professional partnership and personal relationships – similarities, differences, motivation, competition, abandonment, and grief – and how they each respond to the stress of constantly being under the media spotlight.

What happens when, at the pinnacle of fame, it all falls apart?

With dreams shattered and egos destroyed, how do they cope?

I have an older sister and although our rapport isn’t as dramatic, or as close, for that matter, I was able…

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