True crime is a uniquely spooky genre. These books describe crimes that are by turns mysterious, gory, scary, and unsettling. What makes them even creepier is the fact that they’re true. In honor of the spookiest month of the year (October, of course!) we’ve rounded up five recent true crime books that are sure to get your pulse pounding. For those who favor a good night’s sleep, we recommend picking these up during daytime hours.
I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Michelle McNamara, who passed away before the publication of her book, spent years researching the Golden State Killer. This serial killer and rapist struck neighborhoods in California in the 1970s and 1980s, and wasn’t caught until April of this year. Here, McNamara transports readers to those terrifying times when the Golden State Killer was at large, and provides a front-row seat to the ensuing investigation. This book will have you triple-checking the lock on your front door every night and obsessing over every little sound. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
For readers who love spy thrillers, The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell delivers all of the same action and excitement in the form of a true story. In it, readers will join FBI Special Agent Steven Carr on his quest to find the traitor in his own ranks: someone who had stolen information from the U.S. government and was prepared to sell it for the right price. We bet you’ll be on the edge of your seat as Carr investigates and tracks down the spy. Betrayal is a major theme in this story, and it just might make you question the motives of everyone around you.
For readers who loved the first season of the popular podcast Serial, Rabia Chaudry’s name is probably familiar. Chaudry is a family friend of Adnan Syed, the high schooler in Baltimore who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, only to have the conviction later overturned. Here, Chaudry writes about the investigation, and provides information that she believes dramatically alters the facts of the case and proves Adnan’s innocence. Here, readers will find themselves forced to consider both the horrors of murder and of wrongful conviction.
David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon takes readers to 1920s Oklahoma, where extremely wealthy members of the Osage Indian nation were being murdered. These murders would become the subject of an early homicide investigation by the FBI, and Grann details both the brutal crimes and the subsequent scramble to find out who was behind them. This book raises important and troubling questions about treatment of American Indians while also giving readers insight into the early days of the FBI.
Couple Tonya Bundick and Charlie Smith set more than 70 fires in Virginia in 2012 and 2013, and American Fire is the story of their rampage. These fires turned neighbors against one another, put the county on edge, and haunted firefighters and police. This book is both a history of Virginia’s Accomack County, which was once wealthy but fell upon tough times, and a fascinating portrait of a couple with an unusual and consuming relationship. After reading this, we bet you won’t feel like lighting a fire in your fireplace or lighting your grill anytime soon.