31 books like The Onion Field

By Joseph Wambaugh,

Here are 31 books that The Onion Field fans have personally recommended if you like The Onion Field. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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

Rod Sadler Author Of Killing Women: The True Story of Serial Killer Don Miller's Reign of Terror

From my list on killers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The one thing you’ll find in common about the books I recommend and the books I write is the attention to detail. As a retired police officer, I know that it was often the smallest of details that helped solve a crime. In my books, you’ll find an inordinate amount of information that was never known to the public, and I think that’s what truly holds a reader’s interest. Killing Women is the true story of serial killer Don Miller, and you’ll be abhorred at what he did to his victims. Are you ready for his release in 2031?

Rod's book list on killers

Rod Sadler Why did Rod love 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."

By Alan R. Warren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It was a crime unlike anything seen in British Columbia. The horror of the "Wells Gray Murders" almost forty years ago transcends decades.

On August 2, 1982, three generations of a family set out on a camping trip - Bob and Jackie Johnson, their two daughters, Janet, 13 and Karen, 11, and Jackie's parents, George and Edith Bentley. A month later, the Johnson family car was found off a mountainside logging road near Wells Gray Park completely burned out. In the back seat were the incinerated remains of four adults, and in the trunk were the two girls.

But this…


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

Rod Sadler Author Of Killing Women: The True Story of Serial Killer Don Miller's Reign of Terror

From my list on killers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The one thing you’ll find in common about the books I recommend and the books I write is the attention to detail. As a retired police officer, I know that it was often the smallest of details that helped solve a crime. In my books, you’ll find an inordinate amount of information that was never known to the public, and I think that’s what truly holds a reader’s interest. Killing Women is the true story of serial killer Don Miller, and you’ll be abhorred at what he did to his victims. Are you ready for his release in 2031?

Rod's book list on killers

Rod Sadler Why did Rod love 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.

By Steve Oney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And the Dead Shall Rise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On April 27, 1913, the bludgeoned body of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was discovered in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Factory. The girl’s murder would be the catalyst for an epic saga that to this day holds a singular place in America’s collective imagination—a saga that would climax in 1915 with the lynching of Leo Frank, the Cornell-educated Jew who was convicted of the murder. The case has been the subject of novels, plays, movies and even musicals, but only now, with the publication of And the Dead Shall Rise, do we have an account that does full justice to…


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

Rod Sadler Author Of Killing Women: The True Story of Serial Killer Don Miller's Reign of Terror

From my list on killers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The one thing you’ll find in common about the books I recommend and the books I write is the attention to detail. As a retired police officer, I know that it was often the smallest of details that helped solve a crime. In my books, you’ll find an inordinate amount of information that was never known to the public, and I think that’s what truly holds a reader’s interest. Killing Women is the true story of serial killer Don Miller, and you’ll be abhorred at what he did to his victims. Are you ready for his release in 2031?

Rod's book list on killers

Rod Sadler Why did Rod love 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.

By Steven G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'This is the most complete self-portrait ever painted by a serial killer... as unique a document as Bundy was a killer. There are lessons in this book for everyone' ROY HAZELWOOD, FORMER FBI PROFILER

Charismatic. Articulate. Evil. Killer.

Two journalists with unprecedented direct access speak to Ted Bundy and those closest to him - friends and family.

What follows is a candid and chilling full account of the life and crimes of the most notorious serial killer in history.

What Bundy had to say in over 150 hours of face-to-face interviews is as relevant today as it was at the…


Book cover of Leopold & Loeb Killed Bobby Franks

Rod Sadler Author Of Killing Women: The True Story of Serial Killer Don Miller's Reign of Terror

From my list on killers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The one thing you’ll find in common about the books I recommend and the books I write is the attention to detail. As a retired police officer, I know that it was often the smallest of details that helped solve a crime. In my books, you’ll find an inordinate amount of information that was never known to the public, and I think that’s what truly holds a reader’s interest. Killing Women is the true story of serial killer Don Miller, and you’ll be abhorred at what he did to his victims. Are you ready for his release in 2031?

Rod's book list on killers

Rod Sadler Why did Rod love 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.

By Bruce M. Caplan, Elizabeth Mackey, Ken Rossignol

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leopold & Loeb Killed Bobby Franks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most sensational crimes of the twentieth century took place when two wealthy young men decided to commit the perfect crime. Travel back in time to learn of how they planned their dastardly deed. From the carefully laid out plans for ransom and the brutal murder of a young boy, these two young men chose path which weaved through the Cook County courtroom with America's most famous attorney who slipped them off the hangman's gallows into prison for life. With all the details of today's modern documentaries the very words of the killers themselves will spellbind the reader…


Book cover of City of Bones

Christopher Church Author Of The Mythical Blond

From my list on LA detectives with complex emotional lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a longtime Angeleno, I’ve read a lot about the dark underbelly of our dysfunctional metropolis, both in the news and in fiction. I try to incorporate the City of Angels as a strong presence in my writing, and when I read other writers who have put Los Angeles at the center, it gives me a sense of things the way they really are, a glimpse at a deeper reality. I see the detectives in LA noir and crime fiction as inextricably intertwined with the city, their weaknesses, and their emotional quandaries emerging from this place.

Christopher's book list on LA detectives with complex emotional lives

Christopher Church Why did Christopher love this book?

I don’t think Connelly’s intention was to write horror, but his visceral description of the corpses and the minutia of murder in this novel made my stomach churn. An unpleasant experience, yes, but it’s vivid and effective writing. Harry Bosch is a detective with weakness for a specific type of woman, and of course he gets mixed up with Julia, a hot tomato who’s new to the force, and of course she messes up his investigation into the bones. You might want to kick Bosch in the caboose for not thinking more lucidly, but eventually he manages to outsmart his villains.

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The outstanding eighth Harry Bosch thriller from the award-winning No. 1 bestselling author of The Lincoln Lawyer. City of Bones is featured in Amazon Prime's BOSCH TV series.

When the bones of a boy are found scattered in the Hollywood Hills, Harry Bosch is drawn into a case that brings up dark memories from his past.

Unearthing hidden stories, he finds the child's identity and reconstructs his fractured life, determined that he won't be forgotten. At the same time, a new love affair with a female cop begins to blossom - until a stunningly blown mission leaves him in more…


Book cover of My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir

Stephen Holgate Author Of To Live and Die in the Floating World

From my list on neglected mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

From Poe to Conan Doyle and Christie to the hard-boiled school of Hammett and Chandler and modern practitioners such as Louise Penny and Walter Mosely, I can gobble up mysteries like candy. Their appeal lies not only in compelling storylines but in their promise to restore order to our chaotic world, assure us that justice will triumph and evil geniuses will lose to intrepid paladins. As with wines, art, and sex, tastes vary. While reading various lists of great mysteries to jog my memory to make this list, I realized that few of my favorites were even listed, much less among the top ranks. Like a good detective, I’m determined that justice prevails.

Stephen's book list on neglected mysteries

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

Memoirs don’t often feature mysteries, but Elroy, known for tough, cynical crime novels such as L.A. Confidential, centers his around his obsession with the unsolved murder of his mother in 1958 when Elroy was ten. With allusions to the famous Blue Dahlia case, Elroy writes with brutal frankness about his own pathologies and his weirdly loving relationship with his neglectful, alcoholic father. If nothing else, this absorbing book—hard to read and equally hard to put down—solves the mystery of why Elroy and his novels come off as so creepy.

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 22 June 1958, Geneva "Jean" Hilliker Ellroy was found strangled. Her murderer was never found, but her death had a lasting effect on her ten-year-old son who wasted his early adulthood as a wino, petty burglar and derelict. In this book he tells of his determination to solve his mother's murder.


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 Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

Aubrey Fox Author Of Gradual: The Case for Incremental Change in a Radical Age

From my list on how government works in practice – and when it doesn’t.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father advised me that to be a good writer, I should first learn a trade and particular subject matter from the inside out. As a working criminal justice practitioner for the last two decades, I’ve been lucky to work with some of the smartest people and best run organizations in the country. I’ve always been a big reader and someone who likes to link the sometimes brutally practical, day-to-day work of running an organization (I lead New York City’s main pretrial services agency) to larger philosophical issues. My life’s goal is to show how big ideas play themselves out in the day-to-day practice of public policy. 

Aubrey's book list on how government works in practice – and when it doesn’t

Aubrey Fox Why did Aubrey love this book?

I am a huge fan of mystery novels written by Michael Connelly featuring the detective Harry Bosch, so I was delighted to read Jill Leovy’s account of real-life homicide detectives in Los Angeles working under very difficult circumstances to provide a measure of justice to otherwise ignored crime victims and their families.

The book does a wonderful job of documenting the craft of good police work and shows how poorly functioning formal legal systems – a legacy of Jim Crow – negatively impacts Black communities.

As the fictional detective Harry Bosch likes to say, “everyone counts or no one counts.”

Leovy’s book shows what it takes for that vision of everyone counting to become a reality. 

By Jill Leovy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, USA TODAY, AND CHICAGO TRIBUNE • A masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Economist • The Globe and Mail • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a…


Book cover of Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery

Connie Berry Author Of The Shadow of Memory

From my list on mysteries on the golden age of detective fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love of British crime fiction began when, as a young teen, I discovered Agatha Christie on the shelves of my local library. With Scottish grandparents, I was already well indoctrinated in the “everything British is best” theory, but it was as a student at St. Clare’s College, Oxford, that I fell totally under the spell of the British Isles. No surprise, then, that my Kate Hamilton Mystery series is set in the UK and features an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. I love to read the classic mysteries of the Golden Age as well as authors today who follow that tradition.

Connie's book list on mysteries on the golden age of detective fiction

Connie Berry Why did Connie love this book?

For my last pick, I’ve chosen a novel published near the end of the Golden Age (roughly the 1920s through the 1950s). Author and solicitor Michael Gilbert set his novel in the chambers of Horniman, Birley, and Craine. After the death of the firm’s senior partner, a hermetically sealed deed box is opened, revealing the corpse of Marcus Smallbone, a co-trustee with the late Mr. Horniman of the valuable Ichbod Trust. With the help of newly qualified solicitor Henry Bohun, Chief Inspector Hazelrigg sorts through a maze of lies and misdirection to uncover the surprising perpetrator and motive. Martin Edwards, in the foreword to the Poisoned Pen Press edition, said, “The book blends in masterly fashion, an authentic setting, pleasingly differentiated characters, smoothly readable prose, and a clever puzzle.” 


By Michael Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover the captivating treasures buried in the British Library's archives. Largely inaccessible to the public until now, these enduring classics were written in the golden age of detective fiction.

"A first-rate job"—New York Times

"A classic of the genre"—Guardian

Horniman, Birley and Craine is a highly respected legal firm with clients drawn from the highest in the land. When a deed box in the office is opened to reveal a corpse, the threat of scandal promises to wreak havoc on the firm's reputation—especially as the murder looks like an inside job. The partners and staff of the firm keep a…


Book cover of Hell of a Book

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

This National Book Award-winning novel is the story of an unnamed writer negotiating life in a Black skin that pre-empts most people from seeing him as an individual human being. And it has one of the funniest (pee-in-your-pants) first chapters I’ve ever read.

I not only laughed, but I so identified with the writer (and I think most readers will, no matter what your race—that is the genius of this writing), that I lived every moment of this crazy quest to be seen in a world that absolutely refuses to drop its projections.

But ultimately, the person who needs to see this man as a human being, accepting all of his history, hurt, and uniqueness, is the unnamed writer himself. This is a combination of crazy humor and pain.

By Jason Mott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, 2022 Chautauqua Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize shortlist

A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick! 

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books | One of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, murder mystery, and police?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, murder mystery, and police.

Murder Explore 943 books about murder
Murder Mystery Explore 498 books about murder mystery
Police Explore 231 books about police