The best books on psychopathy 📚

Browse the best books on psychopathy as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock

By Graham Greene

Why this book?

It’s not strictly historical fiction since it was published in 1938 and set in pre-War Brighton, nor does it deal with the coming War, since Greene couldn’t know about that at the time. However, anyone interested in this moment in history should read one of its best novels by one of the period’s greatest writers.

From the list:

The best historical thrillers set just before the Second World War

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Book cover of Zombie

Zombie

By Joyce Carol Oates

Why this book?

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates is a disturbing look into the mind of a serial killer. Loosely based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's notorious life and murders, Quentin P. is a young man struggling to come to terms with his disintegrating mental state as he succumbs to his urges and a psychopathic blood-lust. I recommend this book not because it is one of Oates's best books, but because it is one of her most interesting in the way it manages to capture such a realistic portrayal of the workings of a psychopathic mind. Unique, disturbing and thought-provoking, and well worth…

From the list:

The best first-person serial killer novels

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Book cover of The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory

By Iain M. Banks

Why this book?

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is a wonderfully macabre first-person account of a budding psychopathic serial killer. The language and matter-of-fact narration subtly twists the reader's mind along the same bloody trails of the protagonist, Frank, an odd teenager with a predilection for animal torture, fire-starting, and sadistic games with anyone he encounters. This novel is very dark, in both humour and psychological horror, and one I consider a classic of modern literary horror.

From the list:

The best first-person serial killer novels

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Book cover of None Shall Sleep

None Shall Sleep

By Ellie Marney

Why this book?

Ellie is an Australian writer and we share the same publisher so I’ve got to know her a little. This is her first book set in the States (us antipodean writers need bigger readerships!) and I think she’s done great. I can’t even start to imagine the research that’s gone into it to make every fact right. And the blood! I love this book. I think it’s the perfect introduction for teenagers into the world of crime fiction. Go Ellie!

From the list:

The best young adult crime (because crime book lovers should start young)

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Book cover of Child of God

Child of God

By Cormac McCarthy

Why this book?

When I worked for a daily newspaper, I covered the trial of serial killer Richard Biegenwald. Unlike a lot of serial killers, who tend to be loners, Biegenwald was married. He seemed fairly normal, except for his habit of occasionally killing people and burying them in his mother’s backyard. Serial killers, people who don’t kill in self-defense, or to protect someone from harm, but just because they like killing, have always fascinated me. Sitting in court, twenty feet from a real, live serial killer, was intensely interesting and not a little creepy.

Having covered the trial of a serial killer,…

From the list:

The best Southern Gothic novels that are dark and twisted

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Book cover of The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith

Why this book?

This book taught me that villains can be compelling protagonists. It is a wonderful portrait of an amoral aspirational underdog who, through the ability to mimic the pretensions and manners of the wealthy, successfully cheats his way into the persona of his obsession, after murdering him. And, despite the fact he lacks empathy, he is fascinating, his motive, even more disturbing, relatable. Highsmith taught me the importance of the back-story of characters to understand them psychologically. Once you have established that, you can take the reader anywhere and this book does. Part of the fascination and tension is reading how…

From the list:

The best thrillers to educate, illuminate, and escape into guilt-free

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