100 books like In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote,

Here are 100 books that In Cold Blood fans have personally recommended if you like In Cold Blood. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Who am I?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

I never leaned toward crime stories, but this true telling of America’s first serial killer, while simultaneously recounting one of the grandest expositions in American history, was too good to put down.

I was shocked by how quickly I devoured this book. It’s the closest you can get to time-traveling to 1890s Chicago. It’s the near-impossible feat of building the greatest World’s Fair of all, and also the gruesome story of a killer building a “murder house” and luring single women into it.

This is the book that inspired Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio to almost make it a series on Hulu, just saying.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Devil in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chicago World Fair was the greatest fair in American history. This is the story of the men and women whose lives it irrevocably changed and of two men in particular- an architect and a serial killer. The architect is Daniel Burnham, a man of great integrity and depth. It was his vision of the fair that attracted the best minds and talents of the day. The killer is Henry H. Holmes. Intelligent as well as handsome and charming, Holmes opened a boarding house which he advertised as 'The World's Fair Hotel' Here in the neighbourhood where he was once…


Book cover of Crime and Punishment

Stephen Jackley Author Of Just Time: A Journey Through Britain's Fractured Justice System

From my list on the power of redemption.

Who am I?

Having spent a total of 7 years in 12 UK prisons (and 6 in the USA), I encountered so many people from all walks of life who found themselves in custody. What they all generally had in common was a desire to seek betterment – redemption – for even the repeat offenders never hoped to see the inside of another jail again. It can be a soul-destroying, depressing place, often ruthless, but also serves as a forge to draw out the perseverance and will to keep going. After leaving prison, I went on to set up a social enterprise, received a commendation from then Prince Charles, and support the daily operations of a charity (Arkbound). 

Stephen's book list on the power of redemption

Stephen Jackley Why did Stephen love this book?

A true classic with themes as equally relevant today as they were over 150 years ago.

I first read it when in HMP Dorchester, a Victorian-era prison that is now closed. Told from the perspective of a student who unintentionally becomes a murderer, it compels the reader to think deeply about how the routes into crime can be many and varied, along with the nature of power.

Whilst very little of the book covers time spent in custody, before the end it shows the main criminal protagonist, Raskalnikov, as achieving a level of redemption. The book also discusses elements of criminology theory, which are still pored over by real university students.

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Crime and Punishment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed by Washington Post Book World as “the best [translation] currently available" when it was first published, this second edition has been updated in honor of the 200th anniversary of Dostoevsky’s birth.

With the same suppleness, energy, and range of voices that won their translation of The Brothers Karamazov the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky offer a brilliant translation of Dostoevsky's astounding pyschological thriller, newly revised for his bicentenniel. 

When Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the tsars, commits an act of murder and theft, he sets into motion a story that is…


Book cover of The Stranger

Angel Dionne Author Of Sardines

From my list on Books that depict the existential pains of human existance.

Who am I?

I like to believe that my own characters struggle with being human. They struggle with their bitterness, their relations to others (or lack thereof), and their unresolved guilt. What happens when guilt is left unresolved? What happens when someone enters into a state of self-imposed isolation? These are topics I enjoy exploring in my work. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. My mother deserves all the credit. At bedtime, rather than reading bedtime stories to me from a book, she would make up a story and then ask me to do the same. This helped me to develop a lifelong love for reading and writing.

Angel's book list on Books that depict the existential pains of human existance

Angel Dionne Why did Angel love this book?

I first read the English translation of this book during my undergraduate studies. The first time I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Something about it disturbed me, made me feel sick, and made me question what it means to be human.

I felt myself called to read it again years later and, just recently, I picked it up a third time. Mersault’s indifference in relation to his experiences and to society forced me to question my own views concerning the meaning of life.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the intrigue of a psychological thriller, The Stranger—Camus's masterpiece—gives us the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach. With an Introduction by Peter Dunwoodie; translated by Matthew Ward.

Behind the subterfuge, Camus explores what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd" and describes the condition of reckless alienation and spiritual exhaustion that characterized so much of twentieth-century life. 

“The Stranger is a strikingly modern text and Matthew Ward’s translation will enable readers to appreciate why Camus’s stoical anti-hero and ­devious narrator remains one of the key expressions of…


Book cover of The Executioner's Song

Rick R. Reed Author Of The Man from Milwaukee

From my list on true crime that would be criminal not to read.

Who am I?

I chose this list for two reasons—one, true crime has always held great fascination for me. I have a real hunger to understand the motivations behind the darkest sides of human nature, which I believe exists in us all. My own book, The Man from Milwaukee, dives deep into this obsession by sympathetically portraying a closeted young gay man in 1991 Chicago, who sees the cannibal killer as a victim himself of his own irresistible murderous impulses, likening them to our main character’s own self-loathing toward his same-sex desires. 

Rick's book list on true crime that would be criminal not to read

Rick R. Reed Why did Rick love this book?

Mailer’s opus dramatizes the cursed life of Gary Gilmore. In 1976, he robbed and killed two strangers. After being tried and sentenced to death, Gilmore insisted on being executed, to the disagreement of the justice system, who wanted him to remain alive. Written simply and with great compassion, the novel is disturbing, yet ultimately thought-provoking and redemptive.

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Executioner's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGAN

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.


Book cover of Fatal Vision: A True Crime Classic

Stephen Singular Author Of Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer

From my list on the psychology and emotions behind human violence.

Who am I?

I’m deeply interested in the psychology and emotions behind human violence. I’ve been exploring this subject for the past 35 years in 13 non-fiction books about crime, many of them high-profile cases. I have a passion to understand more about this phenomenon.

Stephen's book list on the psychology and emotions behind human violence

Stephen Singular Why did Stephen love this book?

A highly controversial 1983 book about Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald who was accused of murdering his wife and two children in their home in 1970. Initially, MacDonald hired McGuiniss to prove his innocence, but the author eventually changed his mind about the physician’s guilt. He was convicted and the book underscored the perils of writers getting too close to their subjects, especially when they're criminals.

By Joe McGinniss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The electrifying true crime story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children—murders he vehemently denies committing...

Bestselling author Joe McGinniss chronicles every aspect of this horrifying and intricate crime and probes the life and psyche of the magnetic, all-American Jeffrey MacDonald—a golden boy who seemed destined to have it all. The result is a penetration to the heart of darkness that enshrouded one of the most complex criminal cases ever to capture the attention of the American public. It is a haunting, stunningly suspenseful work that no…


Book cover of The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

Katherine Ramsland Author Of The Serial Killer's Apprentice: The True Story of How Houston’s Deadliest Murderer Turned a Kid into a Killing Machine

From my list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with true crime since a serial killer operated in my hometown when I was a kid. I’m now an expert on criminal psychology, which I teach at DeSales University. I’ve appeared in more than 200 crime documentaries and was an executive producer on Murder House Flip (my idea) and A&E’s Confession of a Serial Killer: BTK. I’ve published more than 72 books, and over the past 12 years, I’ve penned a blog on the dark side of the human psyche for Psychology Today. Currently, I’m writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist who runs a PI agency and consults on unique death investigations. 

Katherine's book list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers

Katherine Ramsland Why did Katherine love this book?

I was so excited to see a book that featured an innovative French pathologist, Alexandre Lacassagne, who invented the criminal autobiography during the 1890s.

Starr delves into the French records to show the insights Lacassagne derived about the criminal mind, which altered many notions in criminology. Starr also tells a compelling tale about an early serial killer, the French Ripper, who openly discussed his life history and even helped police find his victims.

During the age of Jack the Ripper, when the first behavioral profiles were used for linking crimes and understanding motives, the French Ripper demonstrated just how deranged a lust killer can be. This book expanded my awareness of early criminal psychology.   

By Douglas Starr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Gold Dagger Award

A fascinating true crime story that details the rise of modern forensics and the development of modern criminal investigation.
 
At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher terrorized the French countryside, eluding authorities for years, and murdering twice as many victims as Jack The Ripper. Here, Douglas Starr revisits Vacher's infamous crime wave, interweaving the story of the two men who eventually stopped him—prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era's most renowned criminologist. In dramatic detail, Starr shows how Lacassagne and his colleagues were developing forensic science as we…


Book cover of The Blooding: The Dramatic True Story of the First Murder Case Solved by Genetic "Fingerprinting"

E.J. Wagner Author Of The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases

From my list on the beginning of crime.

Who am I?

I’m a crime historian and storyteller. I study old crimes, particularly those of scientific interest, and present my findings in public presentations. Sometimes I write about them- in the NY Times, Smithsonian, Lancet, Ellery Queen. I’ve researched in autopsy suites, crumbling archives, and crime labs. I was the founder and moderator of the annual Forensic Forum at Stony Brook University. I’ve consulted on criminal matters for PBS, BBC, and commercial stations. I am fascinated by ancient crime because so much great literature derives from it - the sadly dysfunctional Oedipus family, the fraternal dispute between Cain and Abel- the unhappy Borden family of Fall River. All grist for my mill.

E.J.'s book list on the beginning of crime

E.J. Wagner Why did E.J. love this book?

The Blooding recounts a gripping true tale of murders in the picturesque English countryside-but aside from its haunting atmosphere, it is a detailed account of the beginning of DNA as a crime-solving technique. We have come a long way since the mid-1980s, and we can get much more information from newer DNA methods, but the detailed explanation of exactly how this worked as a revolutionary method is invaluable. Reading this book puts the reader at the very beginning of a revolution.

By Joseph Wambaugh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifteen-year-old Lynda Mann's savagely raped and strangled body is found along a shady footpath near the English village of Narborough.  Though a massive 150-man dragnet is launched, the case remains unsolved.  Three years later the killer strikes again, raping and strangling teenager Dawn Ashforth only a stone's throw from where Lynda was so brutally murdered.  But it will take four years, a scientific breakthrough, the largest manhunt in British crime annals, and the blooding of more than four thousand men before the real killer is found.


Book cover of Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men

Katherine Ramsland Author Of The Serial Killer's Apprentice: The True Story of How Houston’s Deadliest Murderer Turned a Kid into a Killing Machine

From my list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with true crime since a serial killer operated in my hometown when I was a kid. I’m now an expert on criminal psychology, which I teach at DeSales University. I’ve appeared in more than 200 crime documentaries and was an executive producer on Murder House Flip (my idea) and A&E’s Confession of a Serial Killer: BTK. I’ve published more than 72 books, and over the past 12 years, I’ve penned a blog on the dark side of the human psyche for Psychology Today. Currently, I’m writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist who runs a PI agency and consults on unique death investigations. 

Katherine's book list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers

Katherine Ramsland Why did Katherine love this book?

For over a century, there’s been a mystery about the identity of one of the most notorious female serial killers of the twentieth century, Belle Gunness. Did she die in a fire, or did she fake her death and escape?

Schechter’s book-length study leaves no stone unturned. If anyone could fully address this mystery, I knew he could. He’s a foremost authority on true crime. For me, any book he writes is a must-read.

Although I knew this story well, Schechter brought more to it than I’d seen before. I was fascinated with the details of the reports from mental health experts, including criminal anthropologist Cesare Lombroso. He spotted Belle’s “super intelligence for doing evil,” making her “more terrible than any male criminal.” I found this page-turner to be both meticulous and gripping.

By Harold Schechter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hell's Princess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Hell's Princess takes its place among Schechter's other true-crime classics as the definitive rendering of one of the most beguiling and brutal of all female serial killers. His gruesome page-turner, grounded in meticulous historical research, confirms his reputation as one of the top true-crime writers of our time." -Psychology Today

The chilling true account of one of the twentieth century's most prolific female serial killers. Now an Amazon Charts bestseller.

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly…


Book cover of Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

Kathryn Canavan Author Of Lincoln's Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America's Greatest President

From my list on true crime stories written by insiders and experts.

Who am I?

One of my first newspaper jobs was as a crime writer, covering and discovering crime stories in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There's a lot of chaff among the wheat in the true crime genre. Some books are padded with the author's personal lives. Some have paper-thin plots. The books I've recommended are well-told, well-researched stories that are hard to put down.

Kathryn's book list on true crime stories written by insiders and experts

Kathryn Canavan Why did Kathryn love this book?

I learned so much from reading this book by the bureau's pioneering profiler.

Books by profilers and local police who solve major murders often focus on the author's career. No one cares. Douglas's books focus on the crimes and the perpetrators.

He has interviewed Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, Lynette Fromme, John Wayne Gacy, Edmund Kemper, Sirhan Sirhan, Richard Speck, Sara Jane Moore, and Charles Manson. He explains what makes them tick.

By John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a Netflix original series

Discover the classic, behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas’ twenty-five-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country’s most notorious serial killers and criminals.

In chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases—and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares.

During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial…


Book cover of In the Name of the Children: An FBI Agent's Relentless Pursuit of the Nation's Worst Predators

Dianne DeMille Author Of Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo

From my list on true crime and corruption.

Who am I?

As an educator and author of many books, I was asked to write a book about the spiritual journey of a DEA agent with two PIs. They were determined to end a notorious Cartel organization operating along the U.S. Southwestern border. For over five years the two Private Investigators (PI) and DEA Agent Larry Hardin prepared the case for prosecution. The case hit one roadblock after another when presented to five different U.S. Attorneys for prosecution. The books listed below will appeal to similar customers and show connections of the criminal underworld and how the judicial system function’s; finding a way to bring them to justice. News junkies, historians, and true crime enthusiasts will enjoy reading these stories told by those who investigated the activities. 

Dianne's book list on true crime and corruption

Dianne DeMille Why did Dianne love this book?

This is an excellent reading about a former FBI agent not giving up on their search to find predators. I truly honor this agent for how he never gave up on the search. From my former experience as a Special Agent with The Drug Enforcement Administration, the writers did a thorough job to focus on how the FBI Agents unselfishly dedicated long investigative hours to target the predators of children. The writers described how the FBI agent’s moral beliefs and his dedication to helping the sexually abused children; perseverance, and creative innovative investigative techniques that enable him to find the predators.

By Jeffrey L. Rinek, Marilee Strong,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Name of the Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The voice that narrates In the Name of the Children: An F.B.I. Agent's Relentless Pursuit of the Nation's Worst Predators, which Rinek wrote with the journalist Marilee Strong, sounds warm and humane, qualities missing from much crime writing. Their book is a professional job, filled with illuminating details about the day-to-day operations of the bureau."

—New York Times Book Review 

 

FBI Special Agent Jeff Rinek had a gift for getting child predators to confess. All he had to do was share a piece of his soul . . .

In the Name of the Children gives an unflinching look at…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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