The most recommended books about mass murder

Who picked these books? Meet our 9 experts.

9 authors created a book list connected to mass murder, and here are their favorite mass murder books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of License to Die

Tom McCaffrey Author Of The Wise Ass

From my list on bringing magic into your daily life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a Walter Mitty view of the world. If I were a movie character, I would be Edward Bloom, in Big Fish. I have been a lawyer in the entertainment industry for almost four decades. As a result of my personality and profession, my books mix fantasy, science fiction, and the mystical into our everyday world, and I do it in a way that makes you wonder if what I’m telling you is true, causes you to hope it is true and compels you to wish you could join in the adventures.    

Tom's book list on bringing magic into your daily life

Tom McCaffrey Why did Tom love this book?

This is the latest in a series that is a clever parody of the James Bond series of books by Ian Fleming. 

Haris Orkin is an excellent writer who has built this series around his charming protagonist, James Flynn, who you cannot tell if he is crazy or has the deepest and most brilliant cover story imaginable – a patient in a psychiatric hospital.

While it is told with a tongue firmly planted in cheek, there is plenty of real action and adventure. It is a great escape from the mundane everyday life.     

By Haris Orkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hornitos State Mental Hospital houses the worst of the worst. Those convicted of violent criminal behavior and judged not guilty by reason of insanity. Mass murderers, serial killers, mad bombers, arsonists, terrorists, and now... James Flynn. Still convinced he's an international super spy, Flynn finds himself in the most dangerous predicament of his life.

He faces off with old enemies, new enemies, and psycho killers who just want to watch the world burn. He also meets a fierce and beautiful woman who might be even more dangerous and delusional than he is.

Together they walk a tightrope between objective reality…


Book cover of The Big Dark Sky

Margaret Duarte Author Of Between Will and Surrender

From my list on metaphysical themes that plunge you into the surreal.

Why am I passionate about this?

Books have the power to do so much more than to simply entertain. I believe it’s my job as a fiction writer to condense research of complex subjects into understandable language and then play it out in story. My Enter the Between fiction series introduces readers to the world of metaphysics—the bridge between the seen and the unseen, science, and spirituality—which serves as a key to understanding consciousness, death, and the meaning of life. I’ve spent twenty years researching contemporary paganism, holistic theory, quantum mechanics, and transpersonal psychology to come up with stories that bridge science and spirituality with paranormal, supernatural underpinnings, and contemplative messaging that aims toward a kinder, wiser, more peaceful world.

Margaret's book list on metaphysical themes that plunge you into the surreal

Margaret Duarte Why did Margaret love this book?

I’m willing to bet that Dean Koontz would be the first to admit that, like many of his characters, he’s a little weird. But in a good way. Weird like those knowledgeable about quantum physics, synchronicity, and artificial intelligence. Weird like those into Edgar Allan Poe, T.S. Eliot, Werner Eisenberg, and Carl Jung. And weird like authors who use the last line of their stories to leave their readers with unsettling questions long after the reading is through. In my opinion, this very quality, this weirdness, applied to the art of fiction, results in tales that not only entertain but make a captivating read. The Big Dark Sky is an example of both, with its unforgettable characters, especially Jimmy Two Eyes and Artimis (the most intriguing—and scary—of them all), and the thought-provoking scientific, psychological, and philosophical concepts woven into the tale.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A group of strangers bound by terrifying synchronicity becomes humankind's hope of survival in an exhilarating, twist-filled novel by Dean Koontz, the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.

As a girl, Joanna Chase thrived on Rustling Willows Ranch in Montana until tragedy upended her life. Now thirty-four and living in Santa Fe with only misty memories of the past, she begins to receive pleas-by phone, through her TV, in her dreams: I am in a dark place, Jojo. Please come and help me. Heeding the disturbing appeals, Joanna is compelled to return to Montana, and to a strange…


Book cover of The Only One Left

Dana Perry Author Of The Nowhere Girls

From my list on books that are ripped from the headlines by a headline writing journalist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I know a lot about “ripped from the headlines” news stories because I’ve been around a lot of news stories and headlines most of my life. I’m a longtime New York City journalist who has worked as a top editor at both the NY Post and the NY Daily News. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot of wild headlines in these places (e.g., Headless Body in Topless Bar!). So you can understand why I now like ripping from news headlines for fiction books as an author. 

Dana's book list on books that are ripped from the headlines by a headline writing journalist

Dana Perry Why did Dana love this book?

Riley Sager has become one of my favorite new authors, and his latest book is marvelously inspired by one of the most famous news stories of all time: The infamous Lizzie Borden murders of her parents in Fall River, Mass. back in 1892.

Like most people, I can still remember the famous lyric chanted from that long-ago crime: “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks; when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.”

In this book, I loved the way Sager used this idea to create a modern-day story of a Lizzie Borden-type character, even though the book really has nothing else to do with the original case. I found it all absolutely fascinating! 

By Riley Sager,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Only One Left as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BRAND NEW HEART-POUNDING GOTHIC THRILLER FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Everyone believes that Lenora Hope is a mass murderer.

When the Hope family was massacred decades ago, she was the only one left after that tragic night.

Mute, paralysed and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora has never been able to tell her side of the story.

Until her new live-in caregiver Kit brings her a typewriter.

And with one working finger Lenora begins to type:

I want to tell you everything.

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 Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shootings

Thomas Gabor Author Of American Carnage: Shattering the Myths That Fuel Gun Violence

From my list on gun violence and the gun industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former Professor of Criminology who has published over 200 works. While I have written about gun policy for 30 years, my first book on the topic was stimulated by the murder of an unarmed Trayvon Martin in Florida by an armed neighborhood vigilante who pursued Trayvon for no reason other than that he was a tall black male wearing a hoodie. I was outraged by the shooter’s contention that he was acting in self-defense. This case prompted me to write my book Confronting Gun Violence in America which included two chapters on the issue of defensive gun use. 

Thomas' book list on gun violence and the gun industry

Thomas Gabor Why did Thomas love this book?

Rampage Nation combines sober analysis with case material to produce an original and engaging book on mass shootings.

Klarevas has a unique focus—gun massacres or high-fatality shootings in which six or more victims die. You should read this book if you would like to know the impact of gun-free zones and armed civilians on mass shootings. This book makes it clear that successful prevention of mass shootings involves targeting both the perpetrator and the weapons that enable gun massacres.

It is simply the best book on mass shootings.

By Louis Klarevas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the past decade, no individual act of violence has killed more people in the United States than the mass shooting. This well-researched, forcefully argued book answers some of the most pressing questions facing our society: Why do people go on killing sprees? Are gun-free zones magnets for deadly rampages? What can we do to curb the carnage of this disturbing form of firearm violence?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the author shows that gun possession often prods aggrieved, mentally unstable individuals to go on shooting sprees; these attacks largely occur in places where guns are not prohibited by law; and…


Book cover of Memory Man

Edmond Gagnon Author Of Trafficking Chen

From my list on crime from a retired police detective.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired police officer who worked the streets and conducted criminal investigations for over thirty-one years in a busy city with Detroit as a neighbor. I handled everything from narcotics to arson and murder. Having lived the life, I truly enjoy a well-written crime novel, especially those inspired by real events. That is what I also write. I prefer crime stories where the protagonist is truer to life and doesn’t possess superpowers.  

Edmond's book list on crime from a retired police detective

Edmond Gagnon Why did Edmond love this book?

If you like a crime drama that builds slowly, teasing you all the way, only giving you enough details to guess who done it, Memory Man by David Baldacci is a story you should read.

The elements of the story were familiar, with cops and killers, but the characters were special, each in their own way. Amos Decker is not a super cop, but he has a super brain - from an injury, that makes him more of a super freak. His condition gives him an almost perfect memory, which is a help and hindrance to him in solving a mass murder case.

It took me a while to get into the story, but once I was hooked, I enjoyed the ride and raced to the end. A great read!

By David Baldacci,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This "impossible to put down" #1 New York Times bestseller introduces Amos Decker, a gifted police detective with a perfect memory who must solve a mystery he wishes he could forget: his family's murder (Washington Post).

Amos Decker's life changed forever--twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to play in the NFL. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field forever, and left him with an improbable…


Book cover of The Trouble with Trying to Date a Murderer

Debbie Iancu-Haddad Author Of Speechless in Achten Tan

From my list on fantasy with characters who can't talk.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing a protagonist who can't talk out loud is quite a challenge. I talk constantly as I'm both an extrovert and a public speaker for my day job, but I have had several bouts of severe laryngitis and have been under severe no speaking orders from the doctor. People react differently when you can't talk. Nowadays, we all have a convenient mobile device on hand to help, but that isn't always the case in the fantasy books we read. In Speechless in Achten Tan my main character Mila can't talk because magic took her voice. Her magic power is connected to her ability to speak, so she's pretty desperate to regain her ability to speak.

Debbie's book list on fantasy with characters who can't talk

Debbie Iancu-Haddad Why did Debbie love this book?

This is actually a humorous fantasy book, but I only discovered the fantasy elements about halfway through. It's also M/M romance. The MC lost his voice as a baby when his father cut his vocal cords. Pretty gruesome. He usually communicates with his phone, nonverbal cues, and lots of body language.

By Jennifer Cody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Trouble with Trying to Date a Murderer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Romily:

Third time’s the charm, right? At least that’s what I tell myself when I witness the same hot guy commit mass murder three times in a few days. I’m either the luckiest mute boy ever or possibly the unluckiest. Who knows, maybe him kidnapping me will turn into the greatest love story ever told? Hey, it could happen! You never know how these things will turn out. I happen to believe in love and soulmates, and if nothing else, Arlington Fox doesn’t treat my disability like a nuisance. It’s not everyday you find someone who just gets you, and…


Book cover of Delivered from Evil: True Stories of Ordinary People Who Faced Monstrous Mass Killers and Survived

Andy Brown Author Of Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base

From my list on man-made disaster and tragedy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being a connoisseur of historical nonfiction and a survivor of the 1994 shooting spree and aviation disaster at Fairchild Air Force Base, allowed me to create a unique narrative of the two tragedies. I’ve been naturally curious since childhood and grew even more observant and detail-oriented during my career in law enforcement and criminal investigations. I appreciate books that delve into historical disasters and tragedies giving us the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. When I realized none of my favorite authors were writing about the Fairchild tragedies, I took up the challenge myself. Warnings Unheeded is the result of more than seven years of research, it is an incredible story and a timeless lesson from history.

Andy's book list on man-made disaster and tragedy

Andy Brown Why did Andy love this book?

Delivered from Evil covers ten incidents of mass murder and serial killing. In each well-written narrative, Franscell tells the story of the crime, the criminal, and the victims. Even the most devoted crime buff will learn something new from Franscell’s thorough research and unique style. I appreciate the attention he gives to the survivor’s stories and their experience with the life-altering effects of trauma.

By Ron Franscell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written by bestselling crime author, Ron Franscell, Delivered from Evil is a compelling look at the most notable mass murders told from the harrowing perspective of those who escaped certain death. Using survivor's accounts, many of which have never been told until now, the crime and its aftermath are laid out in chilling detail. * Suzanna Gratia Hupp watches as her parents are gunned down in the Luby's Cafeteria shooting massacre-while 100 feet away is the handgun Suzanna left in her car. * Dianne Alexander is brutally assaulted and left for dead by serial killer Derrick Todd Lee-but survives to…


Book cover of The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery

Rick Geary Author Of A Treasury Of Victorian Murder Compendium: Including: Jack The Ripper, The Beast Of Chicago, Fatal Bullet

From my list on unsolved murders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I trace my interest in true crime back to the early 1970s when I worked as a staff cartoonist for a weekly newspaper in Wichita, Kansas. A former cop lent me his vast collection of mugshots. Looking into the literal face of crime awakened in me a lasting interest. He also gave me a copy of the complete police file of an unsolved murder from years earlier. Scrutinizing it gave birth to my passion for real-life mysteries like Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, Mary Rogers, and the Black Dahlia. To my mind, questions are always more fascinating than answers.  

Rick's book list on unsolved murders

Rick Geary Why did Rick love this book?

The baseball writer and analyst Bill James sets out to trace the path of a serial ax murderer who left a bloody trail across the US in the early 20th century. Starting with the well-chronicled deaths of eight people in Villisca, Iowa, in 1912, he reveals the signature connections between this crime and dozens of others committed over a period of 15 years from Washington State to Florida, crimes for which innocent people were put to death. A mind-boggling feat of research.

By Bill James, Rachel McCarthy James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Edgar Award finalist for Best Fact Crime, this "impressive...open-eyed investigative inquiry wrapped within a cultural history of rural America" (The Wall Street Journal) shows legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applying his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history.

Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa, murders, received national…