The best serial killer books to stay with you long after you’ve read them

Max China Author Of The Night of The Mosquito
By Max China

Who am I?

I was fascinated by American True Crime magazines from an early age. I used to buy them with my pocket money from a second-hand bookstore near my home. I graduated to reading novels by the age of ten, sneaking my father’s book collection into my bedroom one at a time to read after lights out. His books covered everything from The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins to The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley. By seventeen, I promised myself I’d write a novel one day. Most of my books are crime themed with a supernatural flavour. My debut, The Sister was published in 2013 and since then I’ve completed three more novels and several short stories.


I wrote...

The Night of The Mosquito

By Max China,

Book cover of The Night of The Mosquito

What is my book about?

An apocalyptic event strikes without warning, wiping out power and communications throughout the world. Against this backdrop, a psychiatric patient with links to Jack the Ripper escapes custody. Leaving a trail of murder in his wake, he heads into the hills above the village of Churchend. 

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the village, retired hypnotherapist Michael Anderson suffers an extreme reaction to a mosquito bite. The resulting delirium and soul-searching convince him his life is about to change – and then, from high on the hill, he hears the bells of a disused local church ring for the first time in years…

The books I picked & why

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Billy Summers

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Billy Summers

Why this book?

This is a story about a contract killer who only kills bad people and what is an assassin if not a paid serial killer? This is not Stephen King’s traditional fayre, but it is unmistakably a Stephen King story. Essentially, the book explores Summer’s past, waiting for his next hit and his life after the job is complete. King effortlessly takes us into a world of war, injustice, revenge, and love, all the while unravelling the complexities that comprise Billy Summers. It really was one of those books I didn’t want to end. I will definitely explore further crime-themed books by Stephen King.

Billy Summers

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Master storyteller Stephen King, whose “restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained” (The New York Times Book Review), presents an unforgettable and relentless #1 New York Times bestseller about a good guy in a bad job.

Chances are, if you’re a target of Billy Summers, two immutable truths apply: You’ll never even know what hit you, and you’re really getting what you deserve. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business—but he’ll do the job only if the assignment is a truly bad person. But now, time is catching up with him, and Billy wants…


The North Water

By Ian McGuire,

Book cover of The North Water

Why this book?

A claustrophobic 19th-century voyage into the heart of darkness on a whaling ship bound for the Arctic. On board is a killer, a disgraced doctor with a laudanum addiction, and a captain complicit with a planned insurance fraud. A classic struggle between Good and Evil ensues. I read another of MacGuire’s books immediately after I finished this one; I was that impressed.   

The North Water

By Ian McGuire,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The North Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN NOTABLE BOOK 2016

A ship sets sail with a killer on board . . .
1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship's surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the…


Clementine's Shadow

By Peggy Rothschild,

Book cover of Clementine's Shadow

Why this book?

A great debut novel that slowly picks up pace as we get to know the local characters. When a young girl disappears from a fair, Casey, a female cop suffering from PTSD, is called in to pick up the trail of a spooky suspect who calls his victims Dollies. I loved the way the tensions ramp up until the book becomes unputdownable. 

Clementine's Shadow

By Peggy Rothschild,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Clementine's Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“If you like Harlan Coben novels you will definitely be happy with this read.”
“A great read for mystery fans. Loved it!”
“I stayed up much too late to finish it because I didn't want to put it down.”

After moving to the California High Desert for a new start, Deputy Casey Lang faces a hard truth: She must work through her fear of shooting another child or kiss her career goodbye. The disappearance of a six-year-old girl from a summer concert in the park puts Casey's resolve to the test. The only member of the force with experience working…


The Main

By Trevanian,

Book cover of The Main

Why this book?

I must have read this book at least half a dozen times over the years. Trevanian was the author of The Eiger Sanction, which became a film starring Clint Eastwood and served as my introduction to Trevanian.

Set in Montreal, this character-driven novel centres around a world-weary detective named LaPointe and the characters on his beat. Close to retirement, Lapointe finds himself on the trail of a killer. Will he catch him before his own past catches up with him? It’s a great story.

The Main

By Trevanian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Masterpiece' WASHINGTON POST--'The Main held me from the opening page' CHICAGO TRIBUNE--'The only writer of airport paperbacks to be compared to Zola, Ian Fleming, Poe and Chaucer' NEW YORK TIMES--'A literary jester, a magnificent tale-teller, whose range of interests was vast and whose scope for bafflement was formidable.' INDEPENDENT--'Trevanian's sharply tuned sense of character and milieu gives the book a vivid life granted to only the finest of serious fiction.' WASHINGTON POST The Main is Montreal's teeming underworld, where the dark streets echo with cries in a dozen languages, with the quick footsteps of thieves and the whispers of prostitutes.…


Mummy's Little Soldier

By Rikon Gaites,

Book cover of Mummy's Little Soldier

Why this book?

In her first crime novel, Gaites portrays a psychopathic monster in Ivan Smallbone, and a relentless race against time by police to stop him. Populated by flawed characters, Gaites explores the human psyche to great effect in driving her novel to its inevitable and tragic conclusion. Not for the squeamish.

Mummy's Little Soldier

By Rikon Gaites,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mummy's Little Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mummy’s Little Soldier

1960 – Late in life Marjorie Smallbone gave birth to her only child. Relieved he was perfect, she named him Ivan. As the years went by, she discovered perfection is only skin-deep.

1983 – Sentenced to serve eight years in prison for the manslaughter of many young school children, upon her release in 1991 June Saunders’ appearance had changed. Shortly after, so did her name.

1994 – New Year’s Eve. DI Leo Thorne has identified similarities between two vicious rapes, but with no evidence to go on, his investigation’s stalled before it’s begun. Then, a sadistic rapist…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in serial killers, good and evil, and Quebec?

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

Serial Killers Explore 188 books about serial killers
Good And Evil Explore 90 books about good and evil
Quebec Explore 19 books about Quebec

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Painted Veil, Blood Meridian, and Witchfinder General if you like this list.