14 Best True Crime Books

True Crime Books

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname–Buffalo Bill–is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter–Hannibal the Cannibal–who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Dr. Lecter is a former psychiatrist with a grisly history, unusual tastes, and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs–and ingenious, masterfully written book and an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.

Jack Reacher is an innocent bystander when he witnesses a woman kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight. In the wrong place at the wrong time, he’s kidnapped with her. Chained together, locked in the back of a stifling van, and racing across America to an unknown destination for an unknown purpose, they’re at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom. Because this mysterious woman is worth more than Reacher ever suspected. Now he has to save them both—from the inside out—or die trying…

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

In this classic novel, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, backed by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

It accomplished for its own time and place what Hubert Selby, Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn did for his. Rents, Sick Boy, Mother Superior, Swanney, Spuds, and Seeker are as unforgettable a clutch of junkies, rude boys, and psychos as readers will ever encounter. Trainspotting was made into the 1996 cult film starring Ewan MacGregor and directed by Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave).

The Elephant Tree by R.D. Ronald

Mark Fallon is an overworked detective investigating a spate of attacks at a string of high profile city centre nightclubs. Scott is a dejected 24 year old struggling to make ends meet working for his brother and supplementing his income with a small-scale drug dealing operation. Angela is an attractive 23 year old, raised by her father, a career criminal and small time drug dealer who supplies Scott with cannabis. This is a chilling tale spanning a few months in the lives of Scott and Angela, where realizations about the present combine with shocking revelations from the past leading to an apocalyptic climax where they no longer know whom they can trust.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life–as she sees it–is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Red Dragon by Thomas Harry

Feed your fears with this terrifying classic that introduced cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

FBI agent Will Graham once risked his sanity to capture Hannibal Lecter, an ingenious killer like no other. Now, he’s following the bloodstained pattern of the Tooth Fairy, a madman who’s already wiped out two families.

To find him, Graham has to understand him. To understand him, Graham has only one place left to go: the mind of Dr. Lecter.

“Ten . . .”
Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious “U. N. Owen.”

“Nine . . .”
At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

“Eight . . .”
Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . as one by one . . . they begin to die.

“Seven . . .”
Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The curse of the Baskervilles dates to the seventeenth century, when the wicked Hugo Baskerville chased a farmer’s daughter across the pitch-dark moor of Grimpen with vile intentions. The poor girl died of fright, but Baskerville’s fate was worse—a giant black hound, eyes afire and jaws dripping with blood, tore out his throat and devoured it on the spot. Since then, the specter of that terrible beast has haunted Baskerville Hall, many of whose inhabitants have met violent, mysterious, and tragic ends.
 
News of the latest death is brought to 221B Baker Street by a local doctor who hopes that Sherlock Holmes can solve the riddle of the curse before it claims yet another victim or leaves the hall forever empty. Sir Charles Baskerville perished alone on the edge of the moor, his face twisted in fright, the footprints of a gigantic hound marking the ground twenty yards from where his body was discovered. Has the mythical monster returned? Or does some other villain now inhabit the desolate moorlands? Holmes and Watson will be pushed to the very edge of reason as they seek to discover just who—or what—wants to see the Baskervilles destroyed.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.