From “Serial” and “S-Town” to “In the Dark” and “The Grift,” we obviously can’t get enough of true crime podcasts. There’s a clear fascination with the more shadowy corners of the human experience and the justice system, investigative techniques, and perhaps discovering something that was previously missed.
While we certainly love true crime podcasts, there’s more than one way to get that dose of the darker side of reality. True crime books have been captivating and unnerving readers for decades, but part of the allure of podcasts is that you can listen on the go or while doing virtually anything. Fortunately, the same can be said for audiobooks. If you happen to be in between podcast obsessions or just in the market for a different experience, these are a few of our favorites.
A True Story of Passion and Murder
Read by the author
Ann Rule made a name for herself in true crime with her spellbinding account of her friendship with serial killer Ted Bundy. She has since proven to be one of true crime’s most captivating writers. In Small Sacrifices, Rule delves into the infamous case of Diane Downs, a suburban mother who killed her three young children in cold blood.
Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession
Read by Mark Deakins
This true crime book from journalist David Grann reads as much like an anthology as anything else. Comprised of essays by Grann originally published in various magazines from 2000-2009, the book explores a wide range of crimes and murders committed by the Aryan Brotherhood, corrupt politician, con men, Haitian death squads, and more. It’ll be tough to stop listening to this one.
Read by Gabra Zackman, Gillian Flynn, and Patton Oswalt
Tragically Michelle McNamara did not live to see the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo as the suspected Golden State Killer. Her book, which was finished by her lead researcher and a close colleague after McNamara passed away unexpectedly, shines a spotlight on one of the most disturbing cases a of serial murder and rape in in U.S. history. The mystery of the Golden State Killer – a moniker coined by McNamara – became an obsession for the journalist and this book is a masterful and riveting example of the true crime genre.
Read by Scott Brick
The Manson Family Murders remain one of the most infamous crimes of the latter twentieth century. The brutality of the crimes, the sway Charles Manson held over his followers, and Manson’s own bizarre antics, are just a few reasons why the story gripped and unnerved much of the country. Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecutor in the Manson Family case and Helter Skelter takes readers deep inside the investigation and trial. There’s a reason it’s the topselling true crime book of all time.
Murder and Injustice in a Small Town
Read by Craig Wasson
Combine John Grisham’s legal expertise, his ability to craft a top-notch legal thriller, and a fascinating real world murder case and you have The Innocent Man. Ron Williamson thought he was headed for Major League Baseball glory when his life took a turn. Then in a 1982, a young cocktail waitress was brutally murdered near his home. On scant evidence, Williamson was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Grisham’s account of the case and its eventual outcome is as tightly-paced as any of his best thrillers.
Read by Scott Brick
First published in 1966, In Cold Blood may not have started the true crime genre, but few other works have done as much to popularize it. Truman Capote’s taut exploration of the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas is a meticulously researched and, at times, breathless account of the murder and its investigation. And Capote’s portrait of Perry Smith, convicted of the crime, is one of the most chilling in American literature.
Read by Anthony Heald
Few books live up to the adage that truth is stranger than fiction more than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. John Berendt’s masterful chronicle of a 1981 murder in Savannah, Georgia and its bizarre decade long aftermath is truly captivating. It’s a true story that reads like southern gothic fiction complete with a host of eccentric and unforgettable characters. There’s nothing quite like this one.
John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker
Read by Richard M. Davidson
During a twenty-five year career as agent with the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit, John Douglas pursued and investigated some of the of most notorious and sadistic killers of his time, most notably the infamous Green River Killer. In his quest to understand the mind of a serial killer, Douglas interviewed a number of the most notorious murders in recent memory – Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, Charles Manson. In Mindhunter, Douglas and co-author Mark Olshaker take readers inside the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit and into some of the most dangerous minds of the twentieth century.
Read by the author
Blurring the line between memoir and true crime, The Fact of a Body is a relentlessly captivating examination of tragedy, trauma, and family secrets. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich felt an unnerving surge of anger when reviewing the case of convicted murderer Ricky Langley while working a summer job at a law firm. As she delved deeper into the case and its circumstances, she was forced to confront her own complicated history and long-buried family secrets.
Read by Suzanne Toren
In 1899 in the town of Truevine, Georgia, two young African American boys were kidnapped from the sharecropper’s farm they called home. The boys, George and Willie Muse, were stolen into the circus and made to act out outrageous caricatures – cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, ambassadors from Mars. They became famous around the world, even performing at Buckingham Palace. Their mother, never accepting their disappearance, spent twenty-eight years trying to get the boys back.