A body is found brutally murdered. Blood is splattered across the pathway, a large pool seeps silently into the ground below. The blade of a hunting knife is embedded into the bark of a nearby fir. An empty black glove lies folded over the handle, its fingers trembling in the evening wind. You begin to feel chills up your spine.
Who doesn’t love the thrill of a good crime story? Especially when there are so many to choose from. Fictionalized crime, white collar crime, missing persons, robberies, kidnappers, and other non-violent acts, make for good stories with compelling characters that keep you reading well into the night.
But let’s be honest. There’s nothing like true crime. Especially violent, unsolved, or just plain weird. There’s something entirely captivating about stories so dark and mysterious, they seem too good to be true. So turn up the lights and lock the doors. Here are eight true crime stories to read during National Crime Writing Month.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In 1959 in a small Kansas town, a family was savagely murdered in their farm house. There was no motive, no witnesses, and almost no clues. Famous writer Truman Capote reconstructs the murder, the investigation, and the trial and eventual execution of the killers. Capote’s in-person interviews with residents, police, and the accused adds an extra spice to this chilling tale.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
The best selling true crime book about the Charles Manson murders of 1969 still enjoys robust sales even after all these years. Presenting a first-hand account, Bugliosi recounts the arrest, and prosecution of this grisly, unfathomable crime. Even now, the Charles Manson murders hold an almost mythic status in the annals of true crime.
Murder by Milkshake by Eve Lazarus
This story revisits the suspicious 1965 death of a popular radio personality's wife that became one of Canada's most sensational criminal cases of the century. When Esther Castellani — wife to charismatic CKNW radio personality Rene Castellani — passed away after a painful and prolonged illness, the cause of death was initially undetermined. But soon after Rene quickly moved on with his girlfriend Lolly, the truth was revealed: he had methodically poisoned his wife by putting poison in her vanilla milkshakes. This nonfiction work by Lazarus provides a well-researched look at murder, infidelity and the social and political realities in 1960s Canada.
Blood in the Water by Silver Donald Cameron
A true story of revenge in the Maritimes is late Canadian journalist and author Silver Donald Cameron’s account of a horrifying crime that occurred in June 2013. It’s a gripping, insightful account of small town murder that asks us to consider if such actions can ever be justified?
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
The investigation of a missing mother reveals a still-raw violent past. Dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, the 38-year-old mother of ten, was never seen again. In a climate of fear and paranoia caused by the notorious Troubles of Northern Ireland, the story examines the cost of keeping quiet to keep the peace.
The Billionaire Murder by Kevin Donovan
Found dead at their indoor swimming pool in their Toronto mansion in 2017, the murder of Barry and Honey Sherman shocked the country. Staged to look like a murder-suicide, newspaper reporter Kevin Donovan tackled the investigation into this mysterious, and still, unsolved crime.
Furious Hours by Casey Cep
Named one of the best non-fiction books of 2019, this is a gripping account of a violent crime in the southern U.S.,an intense courtroom drama years later, and famous author Harper Lee’s involvement. The author of To Kill a Mockingbirdspent a year in town reporting on the case and many more years working on her own version of events. It’s a story of shocking murders, racial politics, and a deeply moving portrait of a beloved writer’s struggle with fame and artistic creativity.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Master story-teller Larson, recounts the tale of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago from the designers’ viewpoint as well as a con artist/serial killer who lured his victims to their deaths in his elaborately constructed “Murder Castle” just west of the ‘White City’ fairgrounds.
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In the meantime, happy reading!