5 Great True Crime Books to Keep You Up at Night

As a lover of horror fictin, I also have a great affinity for true crime. My shelves are lined with books on these gruesome acts. Here a few of my favorites.

BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) by Roy Wenzl, Tim Potter, L. Kelly, and Hurst Laviana

The BTK killer is one of the most heinous serial killers to have haunted this planet. BTK is written by a group of award-winning reporters for the Witchita Eagle who covered the killings as they occurred. This book follows the killer as he plots his next attacks and follows through with them; the imagery evoked from these gruesome scenes actually made me put the book down several times before I could go back to it. We learn a lot about the detectives and their personal struggles while dealing with the cases, which is something we don’t often get let in on. Check this one out, but leave the lights on!

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Recently, true crime writer Ann Rule passed away, but she left us with many great works. In particular, the one that helped her make a name for herself. Before Rule was a writer, she worked at a suicide prevention center. Her co-worker? Infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy! The book discusses her time working with him and her hindsight on the matter. It’s fascinating to hear a first-hand account of Ted Bundy as he pretended to be a normal guy.

Amy: My Search For Her Killer by James Renner

James Renner of Northeast Ohio became fascinated with the disappearance and eventual death of Amy Mihaljevic since he was a child. That first unsolved murder was a slippery slope for Renner, who continued studying the case long into adulthood. His captivating story of his experiences hunting down suspects and witnesses is incredibly gripping. Amy is by far the most immersive book on this list, with firsthand experiences from Renner dropping in alleged suspects (and met with hostility). As a reader, you identify with Renner and feel his heart break every time a lead dries up.

The Hollywood Book of Death by Robert James Parish

While this book isn’t entirely true crime, it devotes two sections to murder and unsolved mysteries in the land of Hollywood. This book is one of the most comprehensive guides to the dark side of Hollywood and really lets the reader have it with details. It’s fascinating how many grim and sordid tales plagued Hollywood from the Silent Era to the present. Tragic and dark, some of the most interesting tales of true crime that I’ve read come from this book.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

Well, I can’t very well leave Helter Skelter off a list of great true crime novels. Many hold this in the highest esteem when it comes to in-depth analysis on crime. I read Helter Skelter as a freshman in high school; it was my gateway drug into the disturbed world of brutal crime. The pictures alone had me enthralled and terrified, but I couldn’t get enough. Bugliosi put his heart and soul into this book and you can feel it pumping with energy in every flip of a page.


Are there any true crime novels keeping you up at night? Or how about books that are perfect Halloween?






Jess Hicks
Jess Hicks
Jess lives in Ohio with her husband and 3 cats. She is a freelance writer, film critic, and overall horror hound. Her interests aren't solely movie related though and you can check out her work on Phactual, Bloody-Disgusting, Geek Legacy, and more.