When we think of the perfect way to end the night, nearly every scenario involves a book that’s impossible to put down — and we’re not going to gatekeep our magical finds. 😉
We’ve gathered 13 acclaimed true crime books that make the perfect gift — from popular book club picks to moving memoirs, classics, and bold new investigations. You’re bound to find something you love.
See what we did there? Like book binding? Okay, we’ll stick to advocacy instead of comedy.
Here are the titles that are incredibly difficult to pass up.
Paul’s memoir kept our hearts racing and had us keeping tissues close by. He describes his book best by saying: “When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.”
When award-winning journalist and outdoors expert Kathryn Miles begins looking into the unsolved murders of Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, she discovers conflicting evidence, mismatched timelines, and details that just don’t add up. With unprecedented access to crucial crime-scene forensics and key witnesses—and with a growing sense of both mission and obsession—she begins to uncover the truth. An innocent man, Miles is convinced, has been under suspicion for decades, while the true culprit is a known serial killer, if only authorities would take a closer look.
This book details the life of Lonene Ray Rogers and that of her daughter, Alison. You will read horrific stories and devastating events that took place in the lives of this mother and daughter, yet the legacy of the story is not one of sadness. It is one of resilience. Read how Alison decided to “rewrite the story” in her mother’s honor. Prepare to laugh, cry, and be inspired. A Daughter’s Journey is a book you will not be able to put down, or soon forget.
Discover the classic, behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas’ twenty-five-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country’s most notorious serial killers and criminals.
During his twenty-five-year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time. John profiled the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle’s Green River killer.
Crime and tragedy have all too often disturbed the peace and stained the memory of Indiana’s bucolic countryside. Author Autumn Bones explores some of Indiana’s least-known unsolved cases. As a freelance journalist and Uncovered community member, Autumn spends her free time sifting through newspaper archives, searching national missing persons registries and scouring state records to find unsolved cases from Indiana. Some cases featured in her book include the suspected serial killer Lottie “Tot” Lockman, “The Boxy Lady of Benton County,” and Joseph Bova.
In The Third Rainbow Girl, Emma Copley Eisenberg uses the Rainbow Murders case as a starting point for a thought-provoking tale of an Appalachian community bound by the false stories that have been told about.
Weaving in experiences from her own years spent living in Pocahontas County, she follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, revealing how this mysterious murder has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and desires. Beautifully written and brutally honest, The Third Rainbow Girl presents a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America—divided by gender and class, and haunted by its own violence.
In the propulsive debut fiction novel from the host of the #1 true crime podcast Crime Junkie, Margot Davies, a journalist, uncovers her hometown’s dark secrets when she becomes obsessed with the unsolved murder of her childhood neighbor January —and the disappearance of another girl twenty years later. You can’t ever know for sure what happens behind closed doors.
On the surface, fifty-eight-year-old Jose Martinez didn’t seem evil or even that remarkable—just a regular neighbor, good with cars and devoted to his family. But in between taking his children to Disneyland and visiting his mom, Martinez was also one of the most skilled professional killers police had ever seen.
This suspenseful true story of a drug cartel hitman who got away with murder after murder in California’s Central Valley over three decades reveals how the criminal justice system fails our most vulnerable immigrant communities.
After more than twenty years in prison, Adnan Syed’s murder conviction was overturned, and he was finally set free. Rabia Chaudry’s New York Times bestseller and award-winner Adnan’s Story reveals how the case was mishandled and became the subject of Sarah Koenig’s Peabody Award-winning podcast Serial. In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland.
For over two decades, the identity of Melissa Witt’s murderer has been hidden among the dense trees and thorny undergrowth rooted deeply in the uneven ground of a remote mountaintop in the Ozark National Forest. Now, LaDonna gains a new ally in her effort to find justice, and they venture into the troubling “dark web” looking for answers. Each book in the Who Killed Melissa Witt series follows LaDonna Humphrey and her team as they hunt a killer on their quest for justice.
A vivid behind-the-scenes look into the creation of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and the evolution of criminal profiling, written by the pioneering forensic nurse who transformed the way the FBI studies, profiles, and catches serial killers. As one of the first women trailblazers within the FBI’s hallowed halls, Burgess knew many were expecting her to crack under pressure and recoil in horror—but she was determined to protect future victims at any cost. She helped track down notorious violent offenders, including Ed Kemper, Dennis Rader, Henry Wallace, and many others.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark — the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death — offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic — one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.
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