100 books like We Keep the Dead Close

By Becky Cooper,

Here are 100 books that We Keep the Dead Close fans have personally recommended if you like We Keep the Dead Close. 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 Know My Name: A Memoir

Genevieve Kingston Author Of Did I Ever Tell You?: A Memoir

From my list on young women on journeys of self-discovery.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young girl and aspiring writer, I was shocked when I learned how recently women had been afforded the right to publish under our own names. As a life-long reader of female authors, and lover of complex female protagonists, I’m passionate about supporting and sharing stories by and about women. As an author and playwright, I love to seek out buried narratives or minor characters, and put them center stage. I hope you enjoy these extraordinary books by these extraordinary women.

Genevieve's book list on young women on journeys of self-discovery

Genevieve Kingston Why did Genevieve love this book?

My overwhelming feeling after finishing this book was gratitude. I felt so grateful to Chanel Miller and to all the women who somehow find the courage and capacity to speak out about sexual assault.

Miller writes skillfully and devastatingly about the details of her own highly publicized attack on the Stanford Campus. I was glad to get to know the human being behind the headlines and to read an honest and meticulous account of the long legal process that follows such a harrowing event. I devoured this approachable, relatable, fearless book quickly, unable to put it down.

By Chanel Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Universally acclaimed, rapturously reviewed, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, and an instant New York Times bestseller, Chanel Miller's breathtaking memoir "gives readers the privilege of knowing her not just as Emily Doe, but as Chanel Miller the writer, the artist, the survivor, the fighter." (The Wrap).

"I opened Know My Name with the intention to bear witness to the story of a survivor. Instead, I found myself falling into the hands of one of the great writers and thinkers of our time. Chanel Miller is a philosopher, a cultural critic, a deep observer, a writer's…


Book cover of Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Rebecca McKanna Author Of Don't Forget the Girl

From my list on true crime that still honor the victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing a novel about the toll true crime can take on victims’ loved ones and the risk it runs of glamourizing killers while overshadowing victims, I’ve been on the hunt for true crime books that don’t fall into these traps. The titles on this list showcase beautiful writing and tell compelling stories without dehumanizing the victims or glamourizing the perpetrators. 

Rebecca's book list on true crime that still honor the victims

Rebecca McKanna Why did Rebecca love this book?

Gabby Petito. Natalee Holloway. Laci Peterson. These names probably sound familiar. Lauren Cho, Stephany Flores, and Latoyia Figueroa might not. This illustrates what news anchor Gwen Ifill dubbed “missing white woman syndrome,” the disproportionate media coverage in missing persons cases that attractive, upper-middle-class white women receive.

McDiarmid’s moving book illustrates this phenomenon, following the cases of thousands of Indigenous women who have disappeared from a stretch of road in British Columbia dubbed “The Highway of Tears.” For decades, the cases garnered little media attention until a white woman named Nicole Hoar disappeared in 2002, bringing more resources and coverage.

In painstaking detail, this immersive and necessary book follows several of these previously ignored women’s lives, illustrating the systemic issues that failed the victims and their loved ones.

By Jessica McDiarmid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“These murder cases expose systemic problems... By examining each murder within the context of Indigenous identity and regional hardships, McDiarmid addresses these very issues, finding reasons to look for the deeper roots of each act of violence.” —The New York Times Book Review

In the vein of the bestsellers I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and The Line Becomes a River, a penetrating, deeply moving account of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls of Highway 16, and a searing indictment of the society that failed them.

For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found…


Book cover of I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her

Rebecca McKanna Author Of Don't Forget the Girl

From my list on true crime that still honor the victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing a novel about the toll true crime can take on victims’ loved ones and the risk it runs of glamourizing killers while overshadowing victims, I’ve been on the hunt for true crime books that don’t fall into these traps. The titles on this list showcase beautiful writing and tell compelling stories without dehumanizing the victims or glamourizing the perpetrators. 

Rebecca's book list on true crime that still honor the victims

Rebecca McKanna Why did Rebecca love this book?

While on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Connors was raped by a man recently released from prison. Before, he lets her go, he tells her not to contact the police, warning her, “[…] I will find you.”

The phrase becomes the through line of Connors’ book, which is both about her quest to find a way forward after the assault and about her journey to uncover her assailant’s past and the reasons he might have committed this crime. The result is a poignant look at both the trauma left in crime’s wake as well as the societal influences that cause crime to occur in the first place.

By Joanna Connors,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Will Find You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hard-hitting memoir about a woman's search to understand the man who raped her

Joanna Connors was thirty years old when she was raped at knifepoint by a stranger.

Many years later she realised she had to confront the fear that had ruled her life ever since that day. She needed, finally, to understand. So she went in search of her rapist's story, determined to find out who he was, where he came from, what his life was like - and what leads a person to do something as destructive as what he did to her.

'More chilling than a…


Book cover of Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

Rebecca McKanna Author Of Don't Forget the Girl

From my list on true crime that still honor the victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing a novel about the toll true crime can take on victims’ loved ones and the risk it runs of glamourizing killers while overshadowing victims, I’ve been on the hunt for true crime books that don’t fall into these traps. The titles on this list showcase beautiful writing and tell compelling stories without dehumanizing the victims or glamourizing the perpetrators. 

Rebecca's book list on true crime that still honor the victims

Rebecca McKanna Why did Rebecca love this book?

In 1991, a maintenance worker at a Pennsylvania rest area discovered a man’s head in a trash barrel.

Even though he hadn’t touched blood, people suggested the worker should take an AIDS test. Green’s exceptional book opens with this moment, dropping the reader into early ‘90s AIDS panic and the brutal murders of a string of gay and bisexual men from Manhattan.

Green fleshes out the victims’ lives, showing how homophobia was their constant companion, even in the way the police and media treated their eventual murders. Diligently researched and compassionately written, Green’s book is a page-turner that never dehumanizes its victims or glorifies their killer.

By Elon Green,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**WINNER OF THE EDGAR® AWARD FOR BEST FACT CRIME**

A "terrific, harrowing, true-crime account of an elusive serial killer who preyed upon gay men in the 1990s."
-The New York Times (Editor's Pick)

"In this astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction, Green meticulously reports on a series of baffling and brutal crimes targeting gay men. It is an investigation filled with twists and turns, but this is much more than a compelling true crime story. Green has shed light on those whose lives for too long have been forgotten, and rescued an important part of American history."
-David Grann, #1…


Book cover of Murder at the Met

Lisa Black Author Of Red Flags

From my list on crime for music lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up watching every cop show on the air with my father. I always wanted to be a detective, but one that didn’t have to do a lot of chasing, like Starsky and Hutch, or get beat up a lot, like Mannix—one who could take a laid-back approach and work his own hours, like Ellery Queen. I wound up becoming a forensic specialist who also writes thrillers. The protagonists have my same job, only with smarter criminals and better-looking colleagues. I also grew up playing the clarinet—not, I admit, particularly well—in a band and/or orchestra from the fourth grade until well after I married. 

Lisa's book list on crime for music lovers

Lisa Black Why did Lisa love this book?

In July of 1980, a beautiful violinist disappeared during a 45-minute break while the visiting ballet company used a prerecorded piece. Helen Hagnes Mintiks was a Julliard grad who had played with professionals since her teens. After the evening’s performance ended, her colleagues knew—as any musician would—that Helen would never have left the building without her violin. It took another nine hours to find her body, thrown down a ventilation shaft, hands tied with knots that stagehands used. A witness led them to the killer, who promptly confessed—a real villain, robbing the world of a kind-hearted talent out of lust. I read this book probably 30 years ago, while I was reading my way through the entire true crime section of the Cleveland Public Library. 

By David Black,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The inside story, written with the cooperation of the detectives involved, of the investigation into the murder of a young violinist


Book cover of In Broad Daylight: A murder in Skidmore, Missouri

Neal W. Fandek Author Of Peter Pike and the Revenge of the Romanovs

From my list on psycho killers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of the Peter Pike private eye series. Pike regularly tangles with psychos; you can’t have crime novels without them. Why? People love psychos. Psychos horrify and fascinate us. Do we wish we could be them? Maybe. The best psychos are outwardly lovable and charming and get whatever they want, making you laugh and shudder at the same time. Wish fulfillment? Fantasy? Subconscious longings? Again, maybe. I know such fiction lets you dive deeply into what’s now called transgressive territory without consequences. Does fiction get any better than that?

Neal's book list on psycho killers

Neal W. Fandek Why did Neal love this book?

This isn't a novel but a true crime narrative, a depiction of a man named Ken McElroy gunned down on the main street of a small Missouri town in, well, broad daylight. No witnesses. No suspects. Well, the whole town, the whole county, are suspects. This guy raped very young girls then got them to marry him, shot people, stole cattle and equipment, burned down houses. This book was a jolt to me because my wife is from that area, an area I, a man who's spent most of my life in urban areas, had always thought bucolic, filled with amiable, honest, peaceful people. I started looking at the natives in a different light after this. And, not to freak anybody out here, chances are pretty good there’s been a terrible crime, if you’re lucky an unsolved one, committed not very far at all from where you are right now.

By Harry N. MacLean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ken Rex McElroy was an illiterate hog farmer who lived on the outskirts of a small town in Northwest Missouri. For over twenty years he raped, robbed and burned almost at will. Cops were scared to arrest him, prosecutors were scared to prosecute him, judges were scared to judge him, and juries were scared to convict him. Over the years, Skidmore and many other small communities became convinced that the law was incapable of protecting them from McElroy. They watched in awe as he walked away from one crime after another. Ken McElroy was shot to death on the main…


Book cover of Jane: A Murder

Madison Davis Author Of The Loved Ones: Essays to Bury the Dead

From my list on honest portrayals of death, grief, and mourning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I turned twenty-five, I lost my father to illness, my brother to a car accident, and a cousin to murder. Experiencing this string of tragedies so young profoundly changed me. As a writer, I’ve often worried that my naked grief on the page would come across as soft, cloyingly sentimental, and wholly without bite. Over the years, I have looked to examples of books that deal with death, grief, and mourning with a kind of brutal honesty. I sought out writing that conveyed the reality of loss in all its messiness. Reading these beautiful, honest accounts of grief have always made me feel less alone in mine.

Madison's book list on honest portrayals of death, grief, and mourning

Madison Davis Why did Madison love this book?

Writing about crime is understandably fraught. Some true crime stories are told with genuine care and attention to impact, while others are definitely…not.

In Jane, Nelson finds a way to grapple with the death of her aunt and the impact it is had on her and her family. It was a guiding light for me when I thought about ways to tell an unwieldy story about murder.

Nelson leans on honesty, compassion, and curiosity to stay safely away from the most common true crime traps, and the result is a wonderful, affecting book. 

By Maggie Nelson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Part elegy, part true crime story, this memoir-in-verse from the author of the award-winning The Argonauts expands the notion of how we tell stories and what form those stories take through the story of a murdered woman and the mystery surrounding her last hours.

Jane tells the spectral story of the life and death of Maggie Nelson’s aunt Jane, who was murdered in 1969 while a first-year law student at the University of Michigan. Though officially unsolved, Jane’s murder was apparently the third in a series of seven brutal rape-murders in the area between 1967 and 1969. Nelson was born…


Book cover of A Death in Belmont

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’ve long admired Sebastian Junger, who writes with precision, empathy, and intelligence.

He’s best known for A Perfect Storm, but in A Death in Belmont, a 1962 photograph shows him as an infant in his mother’s lap, posing with the two carpenters who’d just added an art studio to the Jungers’ home: The younger man is Albert DeSalvo, later known as The Boston Strangler.

Junger argues, convincingly but not definitively, that DeSalvo may have been responsible for the rape-murder of Bessie Goldberg, who lived near the Jungers, despite the conviction, based on circumstantial evidence, of Roy Smith, an African-American man seen walking the neighborhood,

My copy is feathered with Post-it notes marking passages that speak to the nature of murder and the difficult process of investigating a wrongful conviction.

By Sebastian Junger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Death in Belmont as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim's house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues.

On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo-the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the…


Book cover of See What I Have Done

Michelle Bennington Author Of Widow's Blush: A Widows & Shadows Mystery

From my list on traveling back in time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an English major in college. In pursuing my love of books and language, I fell into a love of history. The passion for history began with author biographies as I tried to understand how the culture affected various authors’ writings. This is why my history strength resides in European history, because most of my favorite authors come from Europe. The more I read of the biographies, I often came across historical events I wasn’t knowledgeable about and so fell down a rabbit hole of historical research. The more I learn, the more I love history! 

Michelle's book list on traveling back in time

Michelle Bennington Why did Michelle love this book?

I love true crime and I love history. This book combined the two in an enthralling, often poetic read.

It’s about the case of Lizzie Borden. In this multi-POV story, Schmidt gets into the characters of Lizzie, her sister, a housemaid, and Lizzie’s uncle to explore how the crime unfolded.

It leans literary in its narration style, but I personally like that. The details used in the story really make the reader feel present in the scenes and get into the minds of the characters.

By Sarah Schmidt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked See What I Have Done as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.

'Eerie and compelling' Paula Hawkins
'Stunning' Sunday Times
'Gripping... outstanding' Observer
'Glittering' Irish Times

Just after 11am on 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered. He's found on the sitting room sofa, she upstairs on the bedroom floor, both murdered with an axe.

It is younger daughter Lizzie who is first on the scene, so it is Lizzie…


Book cover of Defending Jacob

Lori Duffy Foster Author Of Never Let Go

From my list on thrillers with twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my years on the crime beat, I often met good people who did bad things and criminals with good intentions and good hearts. We tend to draw a line between good and evil, putting ourselves on the good side. From that perspective, we sit in judgment, believing we are incapable of evil because it’s “over there.” Inaccessible. Unfathomable. But that line is fictional. We redraw it constantly to feel good about ourselves and avoid empathizing with the worst of human nature. What I love about these five novels is that they expose that truth. The twists remind me that even my own line is blurred and ever-shifting.

Lori's book list on thrillers with twists

Lori Duffy Foster Why did Lori love this book?

This book is on my list of all-time favorites. I read it more than a decade ago, but I still can’t get the ending out of my head. The book is intriguing and fast-paced, and I found the characters so relatable–normal, middle-class people, much like my own family.

Maybe that is why the ending hit me so hard. I didn’t see it coming, but I should have. Maybe I didn’t want to believe it could happen or even consider the possibility. Who would? What a twist. All the evidence is there. The motive is there. It is the only ending that makes sense. It’s perfect. 

By William Landay,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Defending Jacob as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If your son was on trial for murder, what would you do?

Andy Barber's job is to put killers behind bars. And when a boy from his son Jacob's school is found stabbed to death, Andy is doubly determined to find and prosecute the perpetrator.

Until a crucial piece of evidence turns up linking Jacob to the murder. And suddenly Andy and his wife find their son accused of being a cold-blooded killer.

In the face of every parent's worst nightmare, they will do anything to defend their child. Because, deep down, they know him better than anyone.

Don't they?


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