If you enjoyed the in-depth crime investigations Making A Murderer and Serial, you'll soon get hooked on these true crime books.
Killing For Company
Not for the faint-hearted, Brian Masters’ investigation of the Dennis Nilsen case seeks to get inside the mind of the serial killer who took young men back to his flat, killed them and kept their corpses for company. Written with Nilsen’s co-operation, it also includes graphic pictures the murderer drew of his killings.
In Cold Blood
When two men broke into the Clutter family’s Kansas home and shot them at point-blank range, it was the start of a murder hunt that would end up with Percy Smith and Richard Hickock dying for their crimes. In this piece of journalistic genius, published in 1965, Capote virtually invented the true-crime genre. Haunting, captivating and incredibly sad.
The horrific abduction and killing of James Bulger by two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, has gone down as one of the most troubling and tragic crimes in British history. Writer Blake Morrison attended the trial and in this haunting book he reflects on the crime itself, the lives of the killers, and the public’s reaction to the crime. As If is also, in part, an essay on the nature of childhood and parenthood.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold sought to leave ‘a lasting impression on the world’, and carrying out the Columbine High School massacre, killing 12 students and a teacher, was their warped way of doing so. Dave Cullen seeks to explain how two seemingly good students could end up as a two-person army intent on wreaking havoc, death and destruction.
Anybody who has seen Goodfellas probably knows that this book is the first-hand account of Henry Hill, the mobster who ‘ratted out’ his old friends in the Mafia to save his own skin. This blunt account doesn’t try to romanticise mob life, but instead shows a world where it was every man for himself.
Another tale of American Mafia life that ended up on the big screen, Donnie Brasco is the inside story of a cop going undercover to trap mobsters. The scenes where Joseph Pistone – posing as jewel thief Donnie Brasco – becomes a friend and confidante of Mafia hit man Lefty Ruggiero, and embeds himself into Sonny Black’s crew, are both tense and moving. That he spent six years undercover – and the effect that had on his ‘real’ life – make this an unforgettable read.
Journalist David Simon – creator of box set favourite The Wire – gained full access for a year to the homicide unit policing Baltimore’s mean streets as it tried to cope with a tidal wave of murder. The ‘year on the killing streets’ offers an unflinching and honest view of an extraordinary murder epidemic.
From the same school of writing as Homicide, Jill Leovy is another reporter who lived alongside the people most affected by America’s murderous cities. The writer attempts to make sense of the bigger picture of how South Los Angeles came to be a battleground in gang warfare, and how the system of policing the bloodshed was more of a hindrance than a help to the likes of Detective John Skaggs, determined to get justice for the victims, whatever their background. A moving, frustrating and eye-opening book.
The Executioner’s Song
Noted author Norman Mailer helped make the name Gary Gilmore famous with this epic book. Having killed two men in cold blood – and it bears many similarities to Truman Capote’s book of that name – Gilmore was convicted and sentenced to death but ended up battling with the State as he insisted it see through his sentence. Mailer’s meetings with Gilmore and the suspense as his execution date nears, make for gripping reading.