76 books like The Journalist and the Murderer

By Janet Malcolm,

Here are 76 books that The Journalist and the Murderer fans have personally recommended if you like The Journalist and the Murderer. 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 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 Savage Appetites: True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Elizabeth Greenwood Author Of Love Lockdown: Dating, Sex, and Marriage in America's Prisons

From my list on true crime-adjacent stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

When asked to describe the nonfiction genre I work in, I often say “true crime-adjacent,” meaning that while there is crime in my books, I’m more interested in the people, circumstances, and culture in which those crimes occur than the act itself. I love books that go deep into character analysis and motivation, as well as the author’s inclination toward the subject. These true crime-adjacent books are all-absorbing, thought-provoking page-turners, with stories so wild you won’t believe they’re completely real. 

Elizabeth's book list on true crime-adjacent stories

Elizabeth Greenwood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Women are the top consumers of true crime. But why, when the stories so often feature women as victims of violence? New Yorker journalist Rachel Monroe profiles four different women in the roles of Detective, Victim, Defender, and Killer to see what it’s all about. The reporting and context in this book are staggering, and Monroe’s writing is both critical and empathic. 

By Rachel Monroe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “necessary and brilliant” (NPR) exploration of our cultural fascination with true crime told through four “enthralling” (The New York Times Book Review) narratives of obsession.

In Savage Appetites,Rachel Monroe links four criminal roles—Detective, Victim, Defender, and Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession. From a frustrated and brilliant heiress crafting crime-scene dollhouses to a young woman who became part of a Manson victim’s family, from a landscape architect in love with a convicted murderer to a Columbine fangirl who planned her own mass shooting, these women are alternately mesmerizing, horrifying, and sympathetic. A revealing study of women’s…


Book cover of Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga

Elizabeth Greenwood Author Of Love Lockdown: Dating, Sex, and Marriage in America's Prisons

From my list on true crime-adjacent stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

When asked to describe the nonfiction genre I work in, I often say “true crime-adjacent,” meaning that while there is crime in my books, I’m more interested in the people, circumstances, and culture in which those crimes occur than the act itself. I love books that go deep into character analysis and motivation, as well as the author’s inclination toward the subject. These true crime-adjacent books are all-absorbing, thought-provoking page-turners, with stories so wild you won’t believe they’re completely real. 

Elizabeth's book list on true crime-adjacent stories

Elizabeth Greenwood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

You might be wondering why a book about yoga is on this list, and I tell you it’s because crime is everywhere! Lorr does incredible immersive journalism and for this book he embedded with Bikram yoga teachers and ended up breaking the story of Bikram Choudhury’s sexual misconduct. The book deconstructs the culture of cult-like thinking to reveal how crimes are perpetrated, excused, and covered up, and you’ll learn a lot about yoga in the process. Lorr is also hilarious but in a more maximalist gonzo manner. 

By Benjamin Lorr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Author Benjamin Lorr wandered into a yoga studio—and fell down a rabbit hole

Hell-Bent explores a fascinating, often surreal world at the extremes of American yoga. Benjamin Lorr walked into his first yoga studio on a whim, overweight and curious, and quickly found the yoga reinventing his life. He was studying Bikram Yoga (or "hot yoga") when a run-in with a master and competitive yoga champion led him into an obsessive subculture—a group of yogis for whom eight hours of practice a day in 110- degree heat was just the beginning.

So begins a journey. Populated by athletic prodigies, wide-eyed…


Book cover of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

Karen Lee Author Of The Village That Betrayed Its Children

From my list on weave real life crime with memoir.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a published author, memoir-writing instructor, and retired clinical psychologist. I wrote an initial memoir as a chronological account of my dysfunctional marriages and recovery from them, but lately, I have become very interested in what is termed “hybrid memoirs.” Hybrid memoirs combine personal memoirs with major incidents and research into issues similar to those in the memoir or the culture and laws surrounding them. Since my new book combines my memoir with an account of a crime that affected all the citizens in the country village where I grew up, I have gravitated to memoirs featuring crime as part of the story. 

Karen's book list on weave real life crime with memoir

Karen Lee Why did Karen love this book?

I love murder mysteries, and this is the story of a real-life murder. Marzano-Lesnevich’s memoir, as well as her journalistic story of the murder, intertwines to make a compelling book.

She unveils her own personal story as well as the personal story of the murderer and his victim. 

By Alex Marzano-Lesnevich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Fact of a Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Part memoir, part true crime, wholly brilliant.' - Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train.

When law student Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is asked to work on a death-row hearing for convicted murderer and child molester Ricky Langley, she finds herself thrust into the tangled story of his childhood. As she digs deeper and deeper into the case she realizes that, despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

The Fact of a Body is both an enthralling memoir and a groundbreaking, heart-stopping investigation into how the law is personal, composed of individual stories, and…


Book cover of Them: Adventures with Extremists

Elizabeth Greenwood Author Of Love Lockdown: Dating, Sex, and Marriage in America's Prisons

From my list on true crime-adjacent stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

When asked to describe the nonfiction genre I work in, I often say “true crime-adjacent,” meaning that while there is crime in my books, I’m more interested in the people, circumstances, and culture in which those crimes occur than the act itself. I love books that go deep into character analysis and motivation, as well as the author’s inclination toward the subject. These true crime-adjacent books are all-absorbing, thought-provoking page-turners, with stories so wild you won’t believe they’re completely real. 

Elizabeth's book list on true crime-adjacent stories

Elizabeth Greenwood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I always describe this as “the book I wish I’d written,” and was completely formative in defining the kind of nonfiction writing I do. Ronson hangs out with conspiracy-minded groups who on the outset would likely hate each other (neo-Nazis and Jihadists, for example) but all believe the same thing: a cabal of powerful people run the world. It shows that Qanon and its ilk are nothing new, and somehow Ronson walks the line of being with repugnant people yet also reveling in their inherent ridiculousness. 

By Jon Ronson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A wide variety of extremist groups -- Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis -- share the oddly similar belief that a tiny shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, journalist Jon Ronson has joined the extremists to track down the fabled secret room.

As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of "Them" but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place. Was he just not invited? Them takes us across three continents and into the secret room. Along the way he meets Omar Bakri Mohammed, considered one of the most dangerous men in…


Book cover of Killing For Company

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?

This is a superb and beautifully written book about one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers – Dennis Nilsen. 

Brian Masters bases his text on documents, letters, and other materials that Nilsen sent, or shared with him and whilst the two would later fall out – Nilsen was a notoriously touchy and narcissistic man, this remains a detailed and forensic account of him and the crimes that he committed. In my own work I got to know Nilsen well and would often check out some of the things that he claimed to me by returning to Killing For Company.  

By Brian Masters,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Killing For Company as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive story of the Dennis Nilsen case featured in BBC's The Nilsen Tapes, and the book behind ITV's Des, starring David Tennant

***WINNER OF THE GOLD DAGGER AWARD FOR CRIME NON-FICTION and THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER***
__________________
Dennis Nilsen, who died in May 2018, admitted to killing at least 15 people before his arrest in 1983. This ground-breaking criminal study of his killings was written with Nilsen's full cooperation, resulting in a fascinating - and horrifying - portrait of the man who worshipped death.

In February 1983, residents of Muswell Hill had been plagued by blocked drains.…


Book cover of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Jonathan R. Rose Author Of After the Flames: A Burn Victim's Battle With Celebrity

From my list on showing uncomfortable truths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always strived to speak out when surrounded by silence, whether in person through my own voice, or through the books I have written and had published. Not because I am heroic or noble, but because I am angered by suppressed truth, and I believe reality should be shown as it is, not as people believe it should be. That is why the books I chose are so important to me, because they fearlessly exposed the truths the respective authors were determined to show, risks be damned. I hope these books inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Jonathan's book list on showing uncomfortable truths

Jonathan R. Rose Why did Jonathan love this book?

I loved this book because it was the basis of the incredible show, The Wire. Before starting the book, I always wondered if in-depth journalism could be written as a thrilling story, and Mr. Simon's incredible work proved it absolutely can be.

Despite it being over 700 pages, I couldn’t put it down. The reality David Simon showed in every word and every page, in all its flawed and uncomfortable humanity, was nothing short of mesmerizing. The details were so memorable that I felt like I was walking the same streets he described. This book inspired me a great deal.

By David Simon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the creator of HBO's The Wire, the classic book about homicide investigation that became the basis for the hit television show

The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the center of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of hard men who fight for whatever justice is possible in a deadly world.

David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and this electrifying book tells the true story of a year on the violent streets of…


Book cover of Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere

Geoffrey C. Fuller Author Of The WVU Coed Murders: Who Killed Mared and Karen?

From my list on crime exploring more than the crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m always intrigued by certain kinds of crime stories, but usually not by the crimes themselves. Straightforward whodunits bore me, and simplistic retellings of the hero myth just strike me as wrong. About thirty years ago, I began to wonder why—which crime stories intrigue me and which seem more like exercises in voyeurism. Turns out the stories I really get into wrap me in previously unseen worlds. They offer a fresh take, bring up unexpected considerations, present a new way to view the crime, or demonstrate why what I’d always thought was mistaken or insufficient. Such books present the crime, but contain much more than the crime.

Geoffrey's book list on crime exploring more than the crime

Geoffrey C. Fuller Why did Geoffrey love this book?

I thought Love & Terror was a book about a killing in Chadron, Nebraska, which was correct. . . sort of. Ballantine’s sparkling prose and grim compassion hooked me immediately. The book does examine a death—suicide? murder?—but we don’t meet the victim, Steven Haataja, until page 62. 

Ballantine drives past the shuffling Haataja the night before his death and tells us Haataja “limped slightly from a recently broken hip. If I’d known what was going to happen to him, I would have run him over . . . hard enough to break his other hip, put him back in his wheelchair,” in order to prevent his death. 

When I first read Love & Terror, I learned crime doesn’t need to be the center of a true crime.

By Poe Ballantine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fans of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will embrace Poe Ballantine's Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere.

Poe Ballantine's "Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel" included in Best American Essays 2013, and for well over twenty years, Poe Ballantine traveled America, taking odd jobs, living in small rooms, trying to make a living as a writer. At age 46, he finally settled with his Mexican immigrant wife in Chadron, Nebraska, where they had a son who was red-flagged as autistic. Poe published four books about his…


Book cover of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

Geoffrey C. Fuller Author Of The WVU Coed Murders: Who Killed Mared and Karen?

From my list on crime exploring more than the crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m always intrigued by certain kinds of crime stories, but usually not by the crimes themselves. Straightforward whodunits bore me, and simplistic retellings of the hero myth just strike me as wrong. About thirty years ago, I began to wonder why—which crime stories intrigue me and which seem more like exercises in voyeurism. Turns out the stories I really get into wrap me in previously unseen worlds. They offer a fresh take, bring up unexpected considerations, present a new way to view the crime, or demonstrate why what I’d always thought was mistaken or insufficient. Such books present the crime, but contain much more than the crime.

Geoffrey's book list on crime exploring more than the crime

Geoffrey C. Fuller Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Somehow, I’d never heard of the crime The Burglary details: the 1971 burglary of FBI field offices. And somehow, the burglars remained anonymous for decades.

A reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time, Medsger was one of journalists who received copies of the FBI files stolen by three professors, a daycare worker, a social worker, and others who called themselves The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. The stolen files exposed COINTELPRO and other illegal FBI investigations, and fundamentally altered the FBI.

The Burglary told me the value of detailed research, especially relating a 50-year-old crime, and showed me the essential importance of understanding the society surrounding the crime in order to fully comprehend the crime.

By Betty Medsger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation.

It begins in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . A small group of activists—eight men and women—the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use…


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