The Most Detailed Books About Killers

The Books I Picked & Why

Murder Times Six: The True Story of the Wells Gray Murders

By Alan R. Warren

Murder Times Six: The True Story of the Wells Gray Murders

Why this book?

Simply put, I recently read Murder Times Six and was drawn to the parallels in my own book.  In Alan R. Warren’s book, he details the slaughter of six family members, the intense investigation, and the subsequent prosecution of the killer. Warren goes a step further by exploring the motivation behind the killer, and the possibility of his eventual release from prison.  

At the end of Murder Times Six, the reader is left with the ultimate question. Should a killer be released from prison? It’s a heartbreaking story, but it’s also a must-read. “He is the monster under the bed that we all fear, and in any good ending, that monster must be kept locked up."


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And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank

By Steve Oney

And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank

Why this book?

This book is absolutely fascinating to me. When I write, I strive to include painstakingly detailed accounts of the crimes that were never known to the general public, and this book goes into every minute detail regarding the 1913 murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan in Atlanta, Georgia. Mary’s body was discovered in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Factory, and it culminated in the conviction and death sentence of Leo Frank. Frank’s death sentence was commuted, but he was ultimately kidnapped and lynched two months after the commutation.  I considered this a powerful example of investigative journalism with largely unknown details.  It’s a gripping account of a time period in this nation’s history that could best be forgotten.


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The Only Living Witness: The true story of serial sex killer Ted Bundy

By Steven G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth

The Only Living Witness: The true story of serial sex killer Ted Bundy

Why this book?

The Only Living Witness is a disturbing account of Ted Bundy’s murderous rampage across the United States in the ‘70s, his capture, and his prosecution. More than that, the authors provide an insight into Bundy’s intellect, motives, and much more by providing the reader with an inside look at how Bundy was interviewed prior to his execution and how they were able to glean details of the murders simply by the way they phrased certain questions to the killer. This is a must-read book for anyone fascinated by serial killers.


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The Onion Field

By Joseph Wambaugh

The Onion Field

Why this book?

As a high school senior planning a career in law enforcement, I was mesmerized by Joseph Wambaugh’s account of the kidnapping of two Los Angeles police officers in 1963, and the murder of one of them.  Wambaugh unsympathetically details the stories of the two men convicted in the case, while at the same time humanizing the officer who survived and suffered from humiliation and guilt again and again throughout seven years of court proceedings against the men who kidnapped him and murdered his partner. The courtroom dialogue is verbatim, and to me, that leads to a feeling that the reader is actually there watching the proceedings. Wambaugh is a superb writer, and I consider this book is another must-read.


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Leopold & Loeb Killed Bobby Franks

By Ken Rossignol, Bruce M. Caplan, Elizabeth Mackey

Leopold & Loeb Killed Bobby Franks

Why this book?

In 1924, fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks was kidnapped and murdered by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two highly intelligent college students who felt they were above the law. Attention to detail is what kept my interest in Leopold and Loeb. It starts with the two men planning the kidnapping, the murder, and their eventual arrest. The techniques used to garner confessions are highlighted, and reading about the legendary Clarence Darrow, who defended the killers, was fascinating. This is another great true-crime read that delves into Leopold’s complete lack of emotion regarding the killing.  Caplan has done an outstanding job detailing this tragic case.


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