100 books like Killing For Company

By Brian Masters,

Here are 100 books that Killing For Company fans have personally recommended if you like Killing For Company. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of In Cold Blood

Patti McCracken Author Of The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History's Most Astonishing Murder Ring

From my list on true crime books that are literary keepers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a practicing journalist, I preferred getting my stories from the back road—“off the beaten path,” as is said. What I’m drawn to is the way a story is told, and since my game is journalism, I like the true ones. My father was a pretty good storyteller. My brother-in-law is wicked good. I hang with my jaw open, waiting on his next word. It’s like being able to tell a good joke. Few can do it. When it comes to True Crime, forget the blood and body count. Anyone can lay out the facts. It takes master storytelling to deliver us to the army of small truths that brought forth the crime—and the humanity that dissolved along the way.

Patti's book list on true crime books that are literary keepers

Patti McCracken Why did Patti love this book?

I’ve read In Cold Blood at least twice, but I think three times is the actual count. The first time, I was in my early twenties, not yet a writer, and I remember being gobsmacked—love that word—by a single sentence.

I remember reading the sentence again. And again. It was a marvel to me how alive it was, and how it told me all I needed to know about a place to understand that place. Nothing happens here; move on, it said—“Like waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama in the shape of exceptional happenings had never stopped there.”

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked In Cold Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Blessin Adams Author Of Great and Horrible News: Murder and Mayhem in Early Modern Britain

From my list on bloody true crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ex-police officer, I have experienced many of the things that I write about, albeit in the modern age: I’ve investigated scenes of sudden and violent death, attended post-mortems, and chased the odd suspected criminal through the streets. After a few years on the beat, I left the force and went to university as a mature student, where I received a PhD for my research into early modern law and literature. I now combine my love of all things true crime with my passion for early modern legal history in the books I write about historical crime, murder, and violent death.

Blessin's book list on bloody true crime

Blessin Adams Why did Blessin love this book?

Finally, a book that is wholly focused on the victims of one of history’s most notorious (and anonymous) serial killers.

Moreso than the descriptive details of five gruesome murders, I think the importance of this book is the conclusion Rubenhold reaches on women, sexuality, poverty, law, and justice in the Victorian age. 

By Hallie Rubenhold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE #1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NONFICTION 2019
'An angry and important work of historical detection, calling time on the misogyny that has fed the Ripper myth. Powerful and shaming' GUARDIAN

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but…


Book cover of The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Ninetenth-Century New York

Rebecca Frost Author Of Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

From my list on crimes you've never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I picked up my first book about Jack the Ripper the summer after college and never looked back. Since then my collection of true crime has grown to overflow my office bookshelves and I’ve written a PhD dissertation and multiple books about true crime, focusing on serial killers. The genre is so much more than Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer and I love talking with people about the less mainstream cases that interest them, and the newer victim-centered approaches that—fingers crossed—mark a change in how we talk about criminals and victims.

Rebecca's book list on crimes you've never heard of

Rebecca Frost Why did Rebecca love this book?

Helen Jewett was a sex worker living in New York in the 1830s. She worked in a brothel under a matron, which should have been a safe enough situation—she wasn’t out on the street, at least, and others knew when she had clients. Early one morning, however, others in the house wake up to realize there’s a fire in Helen’s room, and that she’s dead. Was it a murder committed by her last client, a man quickly identified as Richard Robinson, or was it a suicide? If she hadn’t died so brutally, we wouldn’t know Helen Jewett’s name, so she’s become another victim only known for her murder. Cohen reminds us that she’s more than just her death.

By Patricia Cline Cohen,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Murder of Helen Jewett as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1836, the murder of a young prostitute made headlines in New York City and around the country, inaugurating a sex-and-death sensationalism in news reporting that haunts us today. Patricia Cline Cohen goes behind these first lurid accounts to reconstruct the story of the mysterious victim, Helen Jewett.

From her beginnings as a servant girl in Maine, Helen Jewett refashioned herself, using four successive aliases, into a highly paid courtesan. She invented life stories for herself that helped her build a sympathetic clientele among New York City's elite, and she further captivated her customers through her seductive letters, which mixed…


Book cover of Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Rob St. Clair Author Of Saving Stacy: The Untold Story of the Moody Massacre

From my list on true crime tragedies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Working as a prosecutor, trial lawyer for defendants, and as a magistrate, I’m always bothered by the misconception most people have of our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, cops are crooked, judges are corrupt, and witnesses lie on the stand. Not everyone, not every day, but more often than you would ever imagine. I write true crime books about cases where the underlying focus is on officials who are incompetent, derelict in their duties, or simply downright corrupt. The cases are always suspenseful, but justice is rarely served, and both the defendant and the public are the ones who lose.

Rob's book list on true crime tragedies

Rob St. Clair Why did Rob love this book?

After you read the book, you need to see Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood.

In the summer of 1969, in Los Angeles, a series of brutal, seemingly random murders captured headlines across America. A thin trail of circumstances eventually tied the Tate-LeBianca murders to Charles Manson, a would-be pop singer of small talent living in the desert with his "family" of devoted young women and men. What was the motivation behind such savagery?

The murders marked the end of the sixties and became an immediate symbol of the dark underside of that era. Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, and this book is his riveting account of how he built his case from what a defense attorney dismissed as only “two fingerprints and Vince Bugliosi.”

The meticulous detective work with which the story begins, the prosecutor’s view of a complex murder trial, the reconstruction of…

By Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1969, in Los Angeles, a series of brutal, seemingly random murders captured headlines across America. A famous actress (and her unborn child), an heiress to a coffee fortune, a supermarket owner and his wife were among the seven victims. A thin trail of circumstances eventually tied the Tate-LeBianca murders to Charles Manson, a would-be pop singer of small talent living in the desert with his "family" of devoted young women and men. What was his hold over them? And what was the motivation behind such savagery? In the public imagination, over time, the case assumed the…


Book cover of For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago

Rebecca Frost Author Of Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

From my list on crimes you've never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I picked up my first book about Jack the Ripper the summer after college and never looked back. Since then my collection of true crime has grown to overflow my office bookshelves and I’ve written a PhD dissertation and multiple books about true crime, focusing on serial killers. The genre is so much more than Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer and I love talking with people about the less mainstream cases that interest them, and the newer victim-centered approaches that—fingers crossed—mark a change in how we talk about criminals and victims.

Rebecca's book list on crimes you've never heard of

Rebecca Frost Why did Rebecca love this book?

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb set out to commit the perfect crime and ended up in newspapers as the perpetrators of “the crime of the century.” They kidnapped and murdered a teenage boy in Chicago in 1924, but both Leopold and Loeb were still considered boys themselves at the time. Clarence Darrow defended them at trial, arguing that they were guilty but that the situation had extenuating circumstances. Baatz’s book explores how two college students from good families ended up in prison for murder. Leopold’s family even came from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, near where I currently live, so even though the case is almost 100 years old, it’s not as distant as it might seem.

By Simon Baatz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked For the Thrill of It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was a crime that shocked the nation: the brutal murder in Chicago in 1924 of a child by two wealthy college students who killed solely for the thrill of the experience. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were intellectuals—too smart, they believed, for the police to catch them. When they were apprehended, state's attorney Robert Crowe was certain that no defense could save the ruthless killers from the gallows. But the families of the confessed murderers hired Clarence Darrow, entrusting the lives of their sons to the most famous lawyer in America in what would be one of the most…


Book cover of The Journalist and the Murderer

David Wilson Author Of A History Of British Serial Killing: The Shocking Account of Jack the Ripper, Harold Shipman and Beyond

From my list on true crime about murder and serial murder.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former Prison Governor who has had to work with a number of murderers and serial murderers – and who now writes about them as Emeritus Professor of Criminology – my professional life has inevitably been dominated by violent men. As they might say in the United States, I have “walked the walk” before doing my talking and I try and bring this applied dimension into my written and more academic work.

David's book list on true crime about murder and serial murder

David Wilson Why did David love this book?

First published in 1990 – based on a series of articles originally written for The New Yorker, this book is a warning to true crime authors the world over about the morality of reaching out and writing with and about murderers. 

The journalist in question is Joe McGinniss and the murderer is the former Special Forces Captain Dr Jeffrey MacDonald who became the subject of McGinniss’s 1983 book Fatal Vision. Is it ethical to collaborate with someone who has been accused of murder? What are the pitfalls that need to be managed? And, at the end of the day, who is conning who – the journalist or the murderer?

By Janet Malcolm,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Journalist and the Murderer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible'

In equal measure famous and infamous, Janet Malcolm's book charts the true story of a lawsuit between Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, and Joe McGinniss, the author of a book about the crime. Lauded as one of the Modern Libraries "100 Best Works of Nonfiction", The Journalist and the Murderer is fascinating and controversial, a contemporary classic of reportage.


Book cover of Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell

Howard Sounes Author Of This Woman: Myra Hindley’s Prison Love Affair and Escape Attempt

From my list on biographies to put you in the mind of a criminal.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author of biographies, histories, and true crime books, Howard Sounes is best-known for Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, now in an updated edition; Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life; and Fred & Rose, the bestselling story of married English serial killers Fred and Rose West. Other books include Amy, 27, Seventies, Heist, and biographies of Paul McCartney and Lou Reed.

Howard's book list on biographies to put you in the mind of a criminal

Howard Sounes Why did Howard love this book?

The best true crime books are similar to any good biography, in that they are crafted, powerfully-researched lives of unusual people. With true crime, the life of the subject usually goes awry, however, by degrees from childhood, culminating in disaster, which affects others. Crime takes different forms. This gripping book charts the downfall of the brilliant but unscrupulous media baron Robert Maxwell, ending in his mysterious death in 1991. Had he lived, he may well have gone to jail, like his daughter, Ghislaine. Author John Peston has an eye for grotesques and a nice sense of humour. 

By John Preston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the UK’s 2022 Costa Prize for Biography

“A portrait of one of the most enigmatic figures in the annals of white-collar crime. . . . A well-researched, compelling book that uncovers many mysteries about a media tycoon.”—Kirkus Reviews

From the acclaimed author of A Very English Scandal, a thrilling and dramatic true-life account of the rise and fall of one of the most notorious media moguls of all time: Robert Maxwell.

In February 1991, Robert Maxwell triumphantly sailed into Manhattan harbor on his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, to buy the ailing New York Daily News. Taxi drivers stopped…


Book cover of Confessions of a Yakuza: A Life in Japan's Underworld

Howard Sounes Author Of This Woman: Myra Hindley’s Prison Love Affair and Escape Attempt

From my list on biographies to put you in the mind of a criminal.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author of biographies, histories, and true crime books, Howard Sounes is best-known for Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, now in an updated edition; Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life; and Fred & Rose, the bestselling story of married English serial killers Fred and Rose West. Other books include Amy, 27, Seventies, Heist, and biographies of Paul McCartney and Lou Reed.

Howard's book list on biographies to put you in the mind of a criminal

Howard Sounes Why did Howard love this book?

A doctor interviews an elderly Japanese yakuza (gangster) as he recalls his life. Adhering to his own criminal code, the yakuza exudes a wayward nobility as he discusses the choices he made. Bob Dylan saw romance in this and quoted from the yakuza’s dialogue on his album, Love and Theft.

By Junichi Saga, John Bester (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of a Yakuza as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the true story, as told to the doctor who looked after him just before he died, of the life of one of the last traditional yakuza in Japan. It wasn't a good' life, in either sense of the word, but it was an adventurous one; and the tale he has to tell presents an honest and oddly attractive picture of an insider in that separate, unofficial world.
In his low, hoarse voice, he describes the random events that led the son of a prosperous country shopkeeper to become a member, and ultimately the leader, of a gang organizing…


Book cover of Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard

Rebecca Frost Author Of Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

From my list on crimes you've never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I picked up my first book about Jack the Ripper the summer after college and never looked back. Since then my collection of true crime has grown to overflow my office bookshelves and I’ve written a PhD dissertation and multiple books about true crime, focusing on serial killers. The genre is so much more than Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer and I love talking with people about the less mainstream cases that interest them, and the newer victim-centered approaches that—fingers crossed—mark a change in how we talk about criminals and victims.

Rebecca's book list on crimes you've never heard of

Rebecca Frost Why did Rebecca love this book?

Talk about dark academia—what about a lecturer at Harvard Medical College murdering a Harvard graduate? Dr. George Parkman disappeared one day and was only found later, in pieces, and some of those pieces were in the medical school furnace. This book follows the case before CSI could help identify a man’s remains. It explores why, exactly, a man with such a promising future would decide to throw it all away—and how a janitor unlocked the solution made more complex by questions of class and new vs. old money.

By Paul Collins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blood & Ivy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On November 23rd of 1849, in the heart of Boston, one of the city's richest men simply vanished. Dr. George Parkman, a Brahmin who owned much of Boston's West End, was last seen that afternoon visiting his alma mater, Harvard Medical School. Police scoured city tenements and the harbor, and leads put the elusive Dr. Parkman at sea or hiding in Manhattan. But one Harvard janitor held a much darker suspicion: that their ruthless benefactor had never left the Medical School building alive.

His shocking discoveries in a chemistry professor's laboratory engulfed America in one of its most infamous trials:…


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