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Books to Read for True Crime Fans

Just in case you weren't already aware, I have a bit of a soft spot for true crime and serial killers. "Soft spot" is probably a phrase in bad taste, but I am fascinated with true crime and serial killer history and life stories so it should be no surprise that I've read my fair share of serial killer-related texts in my time and will continue to.

One thing I enjoyed about introducing this interest of mine into my blog earlier this year, was the conversations it started with all you guys - it turns out I am amongst friends when it comes to enjoying these darker topics! With that being said, I spoke to a few people who found the whole topic of serial killers in particular very interesting but just didn't know where to start with learning more about famous killers etc. because let's face it: it's a big ol' subject with a lot of information overload. So I thought I'd compile a wee list of some of the best non-fiction (and kind of fiction, but we'll get into that!) to read if you've recently discovered an underlying interest in serial killers and/or true crime or you're a seasoned expert on the topic and would just like to know which reads are the best to have in your collection.

Talking with Psychopaths and Savages by Christopher Berry-Dee
Having reviewed this book before for NB, I won't discuss the ins-and-outs of it too much here, but I feel like Christopher Berry-Dee is a great author to have in your serial killer/true crime book collection for a number of reasons. One thing I enjoy is Berry-Dee's easy-reading style of writing. You can pick and drop off the book whenever you feel like it and not lose your place or the flow of the content at all. He also talks about the individuals included in his work in such a personal way because he has met them, confronted them, and got to know each one on a personal level due to his criminologist career.

If you want to get an idea of what it's like speaking to serial killers first hand, Berry-Dee is your man. I particularly like this book of his the most as it explores a variety of criminals and Berry-Dee explains why some can be seen as "one time" people and why others will repeatedly reoffend again and again. It's a great introductory book to learn about killer motives, logic, IQs and psychological backgrounds as well as getting know some of the lesser known/talked about serial killers. This book seems to get a bad rep because of Berry-Dee's constant name-dropping of himself and the terrible editing, but if you can get past that, it gives you a wide variety of true crime topics so it's fab for newbies to this genre/topic. It's an absolute steal at £3 to buy, here

Mind Hunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
Although there's a lot of non-fiction books out there that talk at great length about one particular killer and their backstory, there's also quite a few books that bunch a lot of famous killers together. This book however really gets down to the nitty gritty and is a fantastic look at what it's like to deal with serial killers and true crime on the front line so to speak. This book is a NY Times bestseller and it's easy to see why as John Douglas, one of the most famous criminal profilers in the world, talks in detail about how does his job. Douglas shares first-hand accounts of how he tackles case files for the FBI as a special agent and it's *so* eye opening to the "behind the scenes" of true crime activity. You might recognise the name of this book as it's the inspiration behind the very popular Netflix series so if you've watched that and loved it, go back to the OG and give this a read. Mindhunter is £7.19 to buy here

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
Next up I have to mention this book that fits into my aforementioned "kind of fiction" category. Recently the Jeffrey Dahmer movie came out and seemed to be popular with critics and those interested in serial killers alike and this is a great accompaniment for the film but the joy about this book is it's a graphic novel. I've talked at great length about my love for comics and graphic novels before so naturally, I thought this book was amazing when I got my hands on it. I always feel that graphic novels do a great job of really creating an image in your mind of the plot/scenarios etc. because of the illustrations used and the limited writing and this one is no different.

My Friend Dahmer is written by a classmate of Dahmer's and its really insightful into what sort of an individual Dahmer was growing up as a vulnerable teen, susceptible to things going on around him that could have influenced aspects of his adulthood. Pick up My Friend Dahmer for £11.99 here

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
Okay so I know y'all are here for the serial killer sort of content but this book will blow your socks off even with it's single killer/murder story. John Safran is a controversial Australian journalist (think our beloved Louis Theroux but, well, Australian) who interviewed one of Mississippi's most notorious white supremacists back in 2009. After finding out he had been murdered, Safran flew back to Mississippi to talk with the killer.

The reason this book is *so good* is because the story goes extremely deep with many twists and turns, so many quirky characters and drama that it's almost unreal that it's a true story. Safran's writing style is extremely enjoyable to read and he somehow gets a lot of humour into this piece of work which makes it even more of a thrill ride to flick through. For £9.99, you can get a copy here

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry
Another book I've reviewed on NB before, but one I couldn't possibly miss out of this post. Helter Skelter is the number one bestselling true crime book in publishing history and ya girl ain't surprised as it's a fantastic in-depth read. The book details the "true events" of the Manson Family - possibly one of the most well known names in true crime history. Manson himself read this book and critiqued it, and Bugliosi has come under fire from some critics for sharing his opinion amongst the cold hard facts throughout the pages, but you just have to pick it up if you haven't already.

Manson died earlier this year and his death seemed to reignite conversation around his involvement in the murders, the cult he led, and just everything surrounding the Manson cases. If you want to know the ins and outs of one of the most famous cases in true crime history but also be entertained by an extremely good writer, this is the one for you. To add this must-need book to your collection, grab it for £7.99 here

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
Another book a little like My Friend Dahmer, The Stranger Beside Me is about a well known serial killer from the voice of someone who knew them in real life. The Stranger Beside me is about the notorious Ted Bundy but from the point-of-view of one of his former co-workers, Ann Rule, who writes about the sort of person Bundy was - surprisingly, not the cold-blooded killer you would be able to just identify off the bat. Rule writes so much detail and gets down on a really personal level that makes it impossible to put this true crime book down. If Bundy is someone who fascinates you and/or you're keen to see the biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, this is a good appetiser for the movie's release and a great insight into the sort of man Bundy was behind the murders. Grab a copy of £8.95 here

Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt
The last book I'm going to mention is possibly the greatest choice for you fans out there of the hit Netflix series, Making a Murderer. Devil's Knot follows the story of three men: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, who were more commonly known as the West Memphis Three and blamed for the murder of three eight-year-old boys. In 2011, they were released from prison after it was concluded that the 18 years they had spent behind bars, Echols on death row, was a great miscarriage of justice and in fact these teenagers at the time were wrongfully imprisoned and were innocent.

This case was so controversial from start to finish as there were huge pot holes in the investigation, the teens at the time just seemed to be randomly targeted and accused of being members of a satanic cult, as well as much much more. Leveritt manages to condense down all the dark aspects of this case and squeeze them into this page-turner that you honestly need to get your hands on. Reading this makes you literally say out loud "how TF did this happen?!" and is bound to outrage you but in the best way. Devil's Knot is available from £5.99 here

There's *so* many great reads in the true crime category that to be honest, you can pick up a vast majority of non-fiction books and get an exciting insight into various crimes, particularly serial killer stories, but of course there can be just as many misses compared to hits. These are some personal favourites that I would recommend for very different reasons but if you're new to true crime reading or you need some new reads that might have slipped under your radar, hopefully I've added to your "to-read" pile!

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