The most recommended books about murderers

Who picked these books? Meet our 95 experts.

95 authors created a book list connected to murderers, and here are their favorite murderer books.
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What type of murderer book?


White Oleander

By Janet Fitch,

Book cover of White Oleander

Asale Angel-Ajani Author Of A Country You Can Leave

From the list on badass mothers.

Who am I?

The first time I learned that I was raised by a “bad” mother was when I was in the first grade. The teachers complained that my mother hadn’t shown up for parent-teacher conferences and never could get me to school on time. But I knew what they did not, that my mother worked a lot and was raising kids all her own and yet still had time to take us to the library to read books that were well beyond the ones at school. Because of my highly iterant life raised by a bookish and neglectful mother, I have always been interested in the relationship between children and their less-than-perfect mothers.

Asale's book list on badass mothers

Why did Asale love this book?

This lush book, written in 1994, is now something of a classic.

Ingrid is scorned by a man that she sees as being beneath her so she poisons him, and is sent to prison, leaving her daughter Astrid to navigate a series of foster care and adolescence all on her own.

The sweep of descriptive language is lush and languid as the California it depicts. I read this book repeatedly when it first came out, I felt Astrid’s pain as my own. 

By Janet Fitch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

White Oleander is a painfully beautiful first novel about a young girl growing up the hard way. It is a powerful story of mothers and daughters, their ambiguous alliances, their selfish love and cruel behaviour, and the search for love and identity.Astrid has been raised by her mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet. Astrid forgives her everything as her world revolves around this beautiful creature until Ingrid murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life. Astrid's fierce determination to survive and be loved makes her an unforgettable figure. 'Liquid poetry' - Oprah Winfrey 'Tangled, complex and extraordinarily moving' - Observer

Fatal Vision

By Joe McGinniss,

Book cover of Fatal Vision: A True Crime Classic

Stephen Singular Author Of Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer

From the list on the psychology and emotions behind human violence.

Who am I?

I’m deeply interested in the psychology and emotions behind human violence. I’ve been exploring this subject for the past 35 years in 13 non-fiction books about crime, many of them high-profile cases. I have a passion to understand more about this phenomenon.

Stephen's book list on the psychology and emotions behind human violence

Why did Stephen love this book?

A highly controversial 1983 book about Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald who was accused of murdering his wife and two children in their home in 1970. Initially, MacDonald hired McGuiniss to prove his innocence, but the author eventually changed his mind about the physician’s guilt. He was convicted and the book underscored the perils of writers getting too close to their subjects, especially when they're criminals.

By Joe McGinniss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The electrifying true crime story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children—murders he vehemently denies committing...

Bestselling author Joe McGinniss chronicles every aspect of this horrifying and intricate crime and probes the life and psyche of the magnetic, all-American Jeffrey MacDonald—a golden boy who seemed destined to have it all. The result is a penetration to the heart of darkness that enshrouded one of the most complex criminal cases ever to capture the attention of the American public. It is a haunting, stunningly suspenseful work that no…

Writing My Wrongs

By Shaka Senghor,

Book cover of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison

Chris Wilson Author Of The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose

From the list on the criminal industrial complex.

Who am I?

I am a victim of the Criminal Industrial Complex. Before being sentenced to life in prison at 17, I lived in neighborhoods that were overpoliced and violent, I went to schools that were underfunded and didn’t have the resources to support my education, and the crack epidemic and subsequent War on Drugs did irreparable damage to my family. The systems discussed in these books are the ones that fundamentally changed the course of my life. In the long run, I was able to succeed despite these systems. Read these books and understand the many odds that are stacked against so many members of our society. People just like me.

Chris' book list on the criminal industrial complex

Why did Chris love this book?

Shaka Senghor is a friend and a personal inspiration of mine. This book is dear to me, not only because it’s the story of my friend, but also because, in many ways, it’s the story of my life as well. Shaka taught me so many valuable lessons in this book: the importance of writing down your goals, of having a plan, of overcoming the fear of failure. And it was just the beginning of all the flourishing I’ve seen Shaka do, and all the flourishing he has inspired from me.

While many books on my list will make you sad, angry, or both, I think this one will make you feel hopeful. It definitely did for me.

By Shaka Senghor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An “extraordinary, unforgettable” (Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow) memoir of redemption and second chances amidst America’s mass incarceration epidemic, from a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100

Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle-class neighborhood on Detroit’s east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor—but at age eleven, his parents’ marriage began to unravel, and beatings from his mother worsened, which sent him on a downward spiral. He ran away from home, turned to drug dealing to…


By Stephen King,

Book cover of Cell

R.A. Seckler Author Of Containment Zone

From the list on zombies that can think.

Who am I?

I hated reading as a kid. It wasn’t until I was in college I picked up Chuck Pahalniuk’s Survivor and fell in love with books and writing. Since then, I’ve been a non-stop reader and writer. I’d consume on average a book a week (sometime’s more) and write fiction every day. My first novel Containment Zone, combined my love of horror and zombies with themes of coming to terms with the end of one’s life and how we treat the elderly and infirm. For me, writing horror stories is a way of exploring deeper aspects of what it means to be human, all while having some thrills and chills along the way.

R.A.'s book list on zombies that can think

Why did R.A. love this book?

Call me a sucker for some Stephen King and you’d be right! While I could go on and on all day about different Stephen King novels, Cell in particular was one of my favorites. This novel jumps right into the action, bombarding the reader with the chaos of what is essentially a zombie outbreak caused by a mysterious cell phone pulse. I always love King’s attention to character in his novels and his ability to weave that characterization in with the story while not bringing the plot to a total standstill. Throw in some mystery when the zombies start operating as though they’re part of a hive-mind and this novel kept me turning the pages.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stephen King's bestselling apocalyptic thriller.

'Civilization slipped into its second dark age on an unsurprising track of blood but with a speed that could not have been foreseen by even the most pessimistic futurist. By Halloween, every major city from New York to Moscow stank to the empty heavens and the world as it had been was a memory.'

The event became known as The Pulse. The virus was carried by every cell phone operating within the entire world. Within hours, those receiving calls would be infected.

A young artist Clayton Riddell realises what is happening. He flees the devastation…

Murder Machine

By Gene Mustain, Jerry Capeci,

Book cover of Murder Machine: A True Story of Murder, Madness & the Mafia

Craig McGuire Author Of Carmine and the 13th Avenue Boys: Surviving Brooklyn's Colombo Mob

From the list on diving deep into the dark side of Brooklyn.

Who am I?

It’s no wonder South Brooklyn, in the latter half of the last century, is the setting for so many remarkable dramas for both page and screen. In fact, when legendary former NYPD Detective Thomas Dades offered to make introductions to a Colombo Crime Family associate who cooperated with the federal government, I leapt at the opportunity. I was born in Greenpoint in 1971 and grew up on 16th Avenue in the heart of Bensonhurst. It’s not just South Brooklyn’s raw, urban chaotic physical setting, but the sheer volatility of this period in time, where so many transformational trends of the larger culture were evident, and some even epi-centered.

Craig's book list on diving deep into the dark side of Brooklyn

Why did Craig love this book?

Love to know why this murderous mob masterpiece has yet to make it to film.

This must-have for any True Crime bookshelf is from the dynamic duo of Gene Mustain (author of John Gotti bio) and Jerry Capeci (“Gangland” journalist extraordinaire). It chronicles the blood-soaked rise and demise of the deadly Roy Demeo crew, a gaggle of Gambino grunts a couple of rungs under Captain Nino Gaggi.

It’s an underworld tour of the black-and-blue-collar South Brooklyn rackets, circa 70s and 80s, often through the bloodshot eyes of Dominick Montiglio, Gaggi’s nephew, and bolstered by an avalanche of investigative research. From the innards of a Mafia street crew, to the entrails of an auto-theft ring, to the autopsy of Demeo’s whack-tastic dismemberment routine (a.k,a. “The Gemini Method”), there’s so much to digest, if you can stomach the body count.

Locations of interest: The Gemini Lounge on Flatlands Avenue; Bath Beach (Multiple…

By Gene Mustain, Jerry Capeci,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meet the DeMeo gang - the most deadly killers the Mafia has ever known. They were a small-time Brooklyn corner crew who, headed by the notorious Roy DeMeo, became the hitmen of choice for the Gambino family. Killing for profit and pleasure, they were ultimately feared by everyone - even the Mafia bosses they worked for.

When Men Murder Women

By R. Emerson Dobash, Russell P. Dobash,

Book cover of When Men Murder Women

Martin Daly Author Of Killing the Competition: Economic Inequality and Homicide

From the list on why people sometimes kill one another.

Who am I?

When my late wife Margo Wilson suggested, over 40 years ago, that we should study homicides for what they might reveal about human motives and emotions, her idea seemed zany. But when we plunged into police investigative files and homicide databases, we quickly realized that we had struck gold, and homicide research became our passion. Our innovation was to approach the topic like epidemiologists, asking who is likely to kill whom and identifying the risk factors that are peculiar to particular victim-killer relationships. What do people really care about? Surveys and interviews elicit cheap talk; killing someone is drastic action.  

Martin's book list on why people sometimes kill one another

Why did Martin love this book?

Rebecca and Russell Dobash had studied men's violence against their female partners for decades and were already heroes of the women's movement when they began interviewing incarcerated killers in Britain. Two fine books have resulted, one focused on men who killed women, the other on men who killed men. It is the former, especially the section on intimate partner homicide, that I find most captivating. The Dobashes skilfully blend national statistics with the self-serving testimony of their interviewees, who minimize their lethal acts as things that "happened" rather than things that they did, and apparently believe themselves to be the victims. These insights are essential.    

By R. Emerson Dobash, Russell P. Dobash,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the United States and Great Britain, 20-30% of all homicides involve the killing of a woman by a man, and it is far rarer when a woman is killed by another woman. Unfortunately, this is not a very well understood phenomenon. Most books on the topic discuss serial killings, but those only make up 2% of sexual murder-a sensationalist subset of a subset. There has never before been a comprehensive book that has covered the entire scope of homicide cases in which men
murder women.

Dobash and Dobash, two seasoned researchers and longtime collaborators in the study of violence…

The Light in the Ruins

By Chris Bohjalian,

Book cover of The Light in the Ruins

Karla M. Jay Author Of When We Were Brave

From the list on WWII with stories we haven’t heard before.

Who am I?

I love to write stories of historical injustice, so this is mainly the genre I read. In recent years, many new novels merely rehashed the same theme, such as the horror show known as Auschwitz or the other camps. Although those are worthy of the people who died there, I’m always on the hunt for a fresh story that has never been told about those tragic years. 

Karla's book list on WWII with stories we haven’t heard before

Why did Karla love this book?

I loved learning about what happened in Italy when the Germans occupied it. In this story, a wealthy Italian family becomes too close to the Germans by inviting them to search the secret ruins behind their villa for antiquities. This relationship has deadly consequences years later as members of the family are killed. The book goes back and forth between 1943 and 1955 until we learn why someone is seeking revenge.  

By Chris Bohjalian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge—set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa…

Shadow Country

By Peter Matthiessen,

Book cover of Shadow Country: A New Rendering of the Watson Legend

Marshall Jon Fisher Author Of Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season

From the list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida.

Who am I?

My work has appeared in the AtlanticHarper’s, and Best American Essays, among other places. My most recent book is Seventeen and Oh: Miami, 1972, and the NFL's Only Perfect Season. I grew up in Miami and as a writer had always intended to explore that wondrous year in Miami—when I was a nine-year-old fan—and I finally did so for its fiftieth anniversary. I wanted to write about much more than football; I hoped to bring alive the feel of old Miami, and to do so I reread many of my favorite books about South Florida. Here are a few of the best. 

Marshall's book list on showing you old (and very old) South Florida

Why did Marshall love this book?

In the 1990s, I was captivated by Peter Matthiessens three Mr. Watson” novels, which explored the lawless world of Floridas fin de siècle Ten Thousand Islands region.

Last year, I finally reread them in their final form, fused into the magnum opus Shadow Country. In telling the story of the murder of real-life Florida pioneer and renegade Edgar Watson from many different points of view, Matthiessen creates a richly textured landscape.

Outlaws, escapees, and adventurous settlers work, intermarry, and squabble, making a hardscrabble life among the swamps, the rivers, the mosquitos, and the gators.

By Peter Matthiessen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself to his own violent end at the hands of his neighbours. Following the story of his son Lucius as he tries to learn the truth about his father, the story tells of devastating events and traverses wild landscapes inhabited by Americans of every provenance and colour. In this new rendering of the Watson trilogy, Matthiessen has consolidated his fictional masterwork into a poetic, compelling…

The Outlander

By Gil Adamson,

Book cover of The Outlander

Kim Taylor Blakemore Author Of The Good Time Girls

From the list on fierce women in the American West.

Who am I?

The United States Old West is a legend, a myth, a land of contradictions. I grew up and have never left this vast land of scorching deserts, soaring peaks, misty coasts, and redwoods that touch the heavens. I grew up on the myths – Tombstone, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, Pearl Hart. What I love most are the stories of the women of the West, who survive with grit, wiles, and no small amount of courage. I love finding the lesser known women through novels and research and seeing their lives bloom before my eyes. Cowgirls, sufragettes, doctors, ex-slaves, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, cattle rustlers, homesteaders, dancehall girls.

Kim's book list on fierce women in the American West

Why did Kim love this book?

The Outlander is a gripping historical fiction novel set in the Canadian Rockies.

The story follows Mary Boulton, a young woman on the run from her dangerous husband. As Mary navigates the rugged wilderness, she encounters a cast of memorable characters and faces numerous trials.

I loved its evocative and atmospheric writing, transporting me to the untamed Rocky Mountains in the early 20th century. Adamson's portrayal of Mary as a strong and resourceful protagonist captivated me. The land is brutal and beautiful at one, as are the characters she encounters.

The Outlander is a compelling tale of survival, filled with suspense, surprising twists and turns, and a captivating exploration of the human spirit. I could not put this down.

By Gil Adamson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a moonlit night in 1903, a mysterious young woman flees alone across the Canadian wilderness, one quick step ahead of her pursuers. Mary Boulton is nineteen years old, half mad, and widowed - by her own hand. Tearing through the forest with dogs howling in the distance, she is desperate, her nerves burning, and she is certain of one thing only - that her every move is being traced. Two red-headed brothers, rifles across their backs, lurch close behind her: monstrous figures, identical in every way, with the predatory look of hyenas. She has murdered their brother, and their…

Maeve Fly

By CJ Leede,

Book cover of Maeve Fly

V.P. Morris Author Of ShadowCast

From V.P.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Thriller novelist Horror enthusiast Over thinker

V.P.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, V.P.'s 3-year-old's favorite books.

Why did V.P. love this book?

One thing C.J. Leede is able to do to right off the bat is make you uncomfortable in a way that makes you want to know more about this strange young woman you’re reading about.

Leede pulls you into the warped worldview of Maeve, a certifiable sociopath who is a Disney Princess performer by day and a weirdly obsessed menace to society by night. This novel has been hailed as a female version of American Psycho, but Leede’s voice is all her own and not a feminized take on Brett Easton Ellis’ Patrick Bateman.

While Maeve is a morally deranged person and the plot contains disturbing situations, what intrigues me about this novel is its surprising feminist manifesto: why can’t women be seen as dangerous and as monstrous as men are in the same violent context? Overall, this novel is one hell of a rollercoaster ride that anyone with…

By CJ Leede,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A provocative, blood-soaked slasher about unsung villainesses - a nightmarish blend of Eric la Rocca meets American Psycho.

By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child's favorite ice princess.

By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes.

But when Gideon Green - her best friend's brother - moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet.

Untethered, Maeve ditches her…