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True Crime

Updated: January 20, 2016

True crime books may be written by journalists, lawyers, law enforcement professionals, literary writers, or historians. Not every style will appeal to every reader - these are just a few examples of well-regarded and award-winning true crime titles.

Uruburu, Paula M., 1957-
Call Number: 364.9747 U82
Uruburu's account of the love triangle involving a renowned architect, an insane coal heir, and America's first supermodel, and of its grisly end, is meticulously researched, and lurid as a turn-of-the-century dime novel.

Sugden, Philip.
Call Number: 364.942 S947 2002
The most comprehensive book on the Jack the Ripper murders, written by a historian who relies on original documents and police reports to support his findings, rather than myths surrounding the case.

Ruddick, James.
Call Number: 364.942 R914
Who poisoned Charles Bravo in his London mansion in 1876? His deceitful housekeeper? His long-suffering wife? Her lover? Or was it by his own hand? Bravo's unsolved death has fascinated generations of true crime enthusiasts, including Agatha Christie.

Larson, Erik.
Call Number: 364.92 M944La
This books juxtaposes the Colombian Exposition (the Chicago World's Fair of 1893) with the activity of Dr. H. H. Holmes (a notorious serial killer acting contemporaneously). An exciting book, it provides both a myriad of architectural detail and a voyeuristic examination of the deeds of an evil man.

Leveritt, Mara.
Call Number: 364.9767 L661-1
Leveritt was one of the only journalists in Arkansas who questioned the guilt of three Arkansas teenagers convicted of the 1993 murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis. While researching this book, published in 2002, she combs through every piece of evidence, interview, and court transcript in search of the truth - and uncovers some serious miscarriages of justice along the way.

Raab, Selwyn.
Call Number: 364.92 R111
Longtime crime reporter for the New York Times Selwyn Raab provides a comprehensive history of the Mafia in New York City.

Baatz, Simon.
Call Number: 364.92 L587Ba
In 1924, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in an attempt to get away with "the perfect crime." Baatz focuses on both the psychological factors that led up to the murder, and the defense that famed attorney Clarence Darrow mounted on their behalf.

Guinn, Jeff.
Call Number: 364.92 P238Gu
Guinn avoids sensationalism and mythology in this account of the notorious Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, but it's still quite the page-turner.

Bugliosi, Vincent.
Call Number: 364.9794 M289Bu 1994
Written by Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and several members of the Manson Family, Helter Skelter is the bestselling true crime book of all time, and is considered one of the best.

Simon, David, 1960-
Call Number: 364.21 S594 2006
David Simon's look inside the homicide unit of the Baltimore Police Department inspired a critically acclaimed television series.

Capote, Truman, 1924-1984.
Call Number: 364.92 H629Ca 2002
Capote's true crime masterpiece about the brutal murder of the Clutter family, and the men who killed them for a few dollars was originally published in 1965.

Buntin, John.
Call Number: 979.41 L881Bunt
The 1950s in Los Angeles marked the rise of notorious gangster Mickey Cohen and controversial police chief William Parker. Buntin chronicles their struggles to control Los Angeles.

Seierstad, Asne, 1970-
Call Number: 364.9481 S458

This book tells the story of Anders Breivik and the horrific killing spree he undertook in Norway.  It provides an in-depth look at both the perpetrator and a selection of his victims, as well as a disturbingly thorough look at the actual man hunt Breivik executed. 

Wambaugh, Joseph
Call Number: 364.9794 W243 2007

Former LAPD sergeant Wambaugh tells the story of the 1963 kidnapping of two LAPD officers during a traffic stop, and the execution of one of them in an onion field outside Bakersfield.

Blum, Deborah, 1954-
Call Number: 364.9747 B6575
Before 1918, poisoning was an almost sure way to get away with murder in New York City - chloroform was sold in drug stores, arsenic was in a variety of household products, and many apartment buildings had leaky gas lines and poor ventilation. This story of the city's first chief medical examiner, Charles Norris, and the puzzling cases he solved is simply fascinating.

Flacco, Anthony.
Call Number: 364.9794 F569
During the 1920s, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed horrific murders at his southern California chicken ranch. Some of the events of this case are featured in the film The Changeling.

Rule, Ann.
Call Number: 364.973 R935 2000
Ann Rule met Ted Bundy in 1971, while the two were working at a suicide hotline in Seattle. Several years later, as women disappeared around college campuses in the Pacific Northwest, Rule began to suspect her friend.

Pearson, Edmund Lester, 1880-1937.
Call Number: 364.973 P361 1999
Edmund L. Pearson was not only a librarian, but also the father of modern true crime writing.

Summerscale, Kate, 1965-
Call Number: 364.21 W571Su
In 1860, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Jack Whicher was sent to investigate the murder of three-year-old Saville Kent at his family's country estate, and gambled his career when he became convinced that the murderer was a member of the Kent family.

Call Number: 364 T8665
An exceptional collection of true crime essays dating from colonial times to the 20th century, and featuring such unlikely crime writers as Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Zora Neale Hurston.