Our top ten true crime books

08 June 2016

By Pan Macmillan

If you've watched every episode of Netflix's Making a Murderer and you're waiting for the next Serial podcast, here are ten true crime books that are equally captivating and shocking. Sometimes reality really is stranger than fiction...

In Cold Blood
Truman Capote

In the early morning of 15 November 1959, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith broke into the home of Herbert Clutter. On discovering there was no money in the house, the two men brutally killed Herb, his wife and his two younger children. Skilfully researched and powerfully evocative, In Cold Blood offers insight into the nature of American violence.

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Our Story: Reg and Ron Kray
Reginald Kray

The Kray twins ruled Sixties London underworld for more than a decade. As gang lords they were among the most powerful and feared men in the city. Their reign of terror ended on 8 March 1969 when they were sentenced to life for the East End gangland murders with which their names have become synonymous. Compiled from a series of interviews with Fred Dinenage from inside their prison walls, Our Story explodes the myths surrounding the Kray twins as they set the record straight in their own words.
 
Read the opening chapter

 
The Innocent Killer
Michael Griesbach

The book that inspired the hit Netflix documentary Making A Murderer. Steven Avery spent eighteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In 2003, he was exonerated after new DNA testing revealed that another man had committed the crime. Only two years later, Steven Avery was arrested again for the brutal murder of Teresa Halbach – a photographer who went missing several days earlier. Had the so called "Inncocent Man" turned into acold blooded killer? Or was he wrongly accused, again...

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Mad Frank and Sons
David Fraser

With sawn-off shotguns as toys, the Kray twins as family friends and a mother who urged them as teenagers to 'get out of bed and rob a bleedin' bank', it is little wonder that the Fraser boys were heavily involved in organized crime by the time they were in their twenties. Featuring some of the most famous names in the London underworld, this is a fascinating slice of gangland history seen through the eyes of Frank Fraser and his two renegade sons.

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A Good Month for Murder
Del Quentin Wilber

Follows twelve homicides, three police-involved shootings and the furious hunt for an especially brutal killer in Washington D.C. After gaining unparalleled access to the homicide unit in Prince George's County, which borders the nation's capital, bestselling author Del Quentin Wilber begins shadowing the talented, often quirky detectives who get the call when a body falls. After a quiet couple of months, all hell breaks loose: suddenly every detective in the squad is scrambling to solve one shooting and stabbing after another. This is the inside story of how a team of detectives carry out their almost impossible job.

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Naming Jack the Ripper
Russell Edwards
 
In 2007, Jack Edwards bought a shawl believed to have been left beside the body of Jack the Ripper’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. Using ground-breaking forensic testing by one of the country’s top scientists, the shawl was not only proven to be genuine and stained with Catherine Eddowes’ blood, the killer’s DNA was also discovered. Evidence that would allow Russell to finally identify Jack the Ripper.

Read the first chapter

 
The Run of His Life : The People versus O.J. Simpson
Jeffrey Toobin

The trial of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman has been described as the most publicised criminal trial in American history. The People v. O.J. Simpson tells the whole story. From the secret dealings and manoeuvring on both sides of the case, to how the prosecution’s over-confidence and the defence’s shrewdness, alongside the Los Angeles Police Department’s incendiary history with the city’s African-American community, gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.

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The Murders at White House Farm
Carol Ann Lee

Nevill and June Bamber, their daughter Sheila and her two young sons were discovered shot to death in their home. All the windows and doors of the farmhouse were secure. The Bambers' son, 24-year-old Jeremy, alerted the police after apparently receiving a phone call from his father who told him Sheila had 'gone berserk' with the gun. At first it appeared to be a straightforward case of murder-suicide, but a dramatic turn of events was to disprove the police's theory and Jeremy was convicted of killing his entire family.

Carol Ann Lee on her correspondence with Jeremy 


Gomorrah
Roberto Saviano

Gomorrah is the story of Italy’s other Mafia, the Camorra. Known by insiders as ‘the System’, the Camorra exerts a malign grip on cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast is the deciding factor in why Campania has the highest murder rate in all of Europe. To get inside this deadly organisation, Roberto Saviano disappeared into the Camorra and witnessed at close range its audacious, sophisticated, and far-reaching corruption that has paralyzed his city.

Read a chapter

 
Under the Banner of Heaven
Jon Krakauer

In July 1984, Dan and Ron Lafferty entered the home of their brother Allen and killed Allen’s wife and daughter. They insisted they were commanded to kill by God. Examining the origins of the Mormon faith, along with the events that led the brothers to kill, Jon Krakauer raises provocative questions about faith-based violence.

Read the opening chapter




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Mad Frank and Sons
Our Story
Gomorrah
A Good Month For Murder
Naming Jack the Ripper
Under The Banner of Heaven

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