2022 is shaping up to be an incredible year for true crime books. From the true story of an underground cult to a young boy's brutal murder of a local family, here are the best horrific crimes you need to know about this year. Here are the 21 best true crime books to get lost in right now.
'The Boy In The Walls' by Joe Turner
The true story of Daniel LaPlante is one of the most bizarre and upsettling in true crime history. Teenager Daniel LaPlante was obsessed with a local girl in his hometown of Pepperell, Massachusetts, and went to shocking lengths to keep her in his sights. For months, the girl noticed odd happenings in her home, and eventually, made a disturbing discovery that traumatized her for life.
The Boy In The Walls from true crime author Joe Turner dissects the life and crimes of Daniel LaPlante, from his brutal childhood to his obsessive stalking to his eventual descent into maddened homicide. The book features personal interviews from those closest to the case, exclusively revealing new and shocking information for the first time. For a crazy ride, don't miss this one.
'Couple Found Slain: After A Family Murder' by Mikita Brottman
For a true crime account with a unique twist, Couple Found Slain: After A Family Murder will keep you reading until the early hours. This book begins with the story of Brian Bechtold, who one day in 1992, walked into a police state and confessed that he'd killed his parents. His reason? He had been possessed by the devil.
Clearly, this was no ordinary killing, and no ordinary killer. What follows is the horrifying story of Brian Bechtold's life inside a psychiatric hospital, subject to cruel conditions, police brutality and witnessing multiple patient-on-patient murders. It's a look at the seedy underbelly of the justice system and asks a number of troubling questions along the way.
'Golden Boy: A Murder Among The Manhattan Elite' by John Glatt
Young Thomas Gilbert had the perfect life. He lived in a luxurious mansion, he went to the best schools, and he rubbed shoulders with America's wealthiest socialites. But Gilbert was a troubled boy, plagued with paranoid delusions and uncontrollable OCD.
One day, Gilbert walked into his Manattan home, pulled out a pistol and shot his father in he head. The crime rocked Manhattan's upper class, and John Glatt's expose into Gilbert's mental state uncovers some bizarre revelations about why the coddled young man did what he did.
The audiobook and hardcover are both available here.
'Death On Ocean Boulevard' by Caitlin Rother
Rebecca Zahau was found dead in her boyfriend's beachfront home in Coronado, California. When police got there, they found the young girl hanging by a rope. On a bedroom door, someone had scrawled 'she saved him, can you save her?' in black paint.
Ultimately, the death was ruled a suicide, but as the details emerged, there seemed to be more to this bizarre story than met the eye. Caitlin Rother digs deep into this mysterious death and casts new light on the case.
'The People Who Eat Darkness' by Richard Lloyd Parry
In the summer of 2000, 21-year-old bartender Lucie Blackman vanished from the streets of Tokyo. It wasn't until the following year that her mutilated body was discovered in a seaside cave on the shores of Kangawa, Japan.
Her body had been dismembered into ten separate pieces, but who was responsible for this senseless crime of a British tourist in Asia? Richard Lloyd Parry weaves an intricate narrative that examines the corrupt Japanese justice system and the country's underground crime rings.
'Last Call' by Elon Green
Throughout New York City in the 80s and 90s, a perpetrator known as the Last Call Killer targeted gay men. Racking up a staggering victim count, the Last Call Killer terrorized the Big Apple and kept queer New York in a state of paranoia.
Elon Green examines the lives of these forgotten victims and looks into the circumstances around why the killer escaped justice so long. Set in New York City amidst yuppie culture during the AIDS epidemic, Last Call is an ideal choice for any avid reader of true crime.
'The Best New True Crime Stories: Tales Of Passion, Obsession & Revenge' by Mitzi Szereto
For those who want a little variety with their true crime, The Best New True Crime Stories: Tales Of Passion, Obsession & Revenge is a solid choice. This multi-author anthology covers cases from across the world, from vengeful serial killers to hate crimes to stories of disturbing obsession. Most of the cases are lesser known tragedies, so chances are even the most hardened true crime fan will learn a few new things.
Many of authors have personal connections to the stories too, from family members of victims to law enforcement detailing their harrowing experiences. Crimes of Passion, Obsession & Revenge is edited by author Mitzi Szereto, who also offers her own contribution to the anthology too. For a true crime book with a difference, this one will have you reading long into the night.
'The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing' by Sonia Faleiro
In an Indian village on a hot summer night, two teenage girls were found hanging by their necks in a local orchard. These two best friends, so close that the locals had given them a single name, had been brutally killed without reason, but locals weren't so convinced.
Some people believed it was suicide. Others assumed it was an honor killing. The senseless killings of these 'good girls' exposed some ugly truths about violence against women throughout India, prompting victimized women to finally stand up against inequality.
'Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors' by Ann Rule
Over her long and storied career, the queen of true crime wrote dozens of true crime books. However, Ann Rule's masterpiece will always be her particularly harrowing debut the Stranger Beside Me.
The book documents Ann's personal relationship with a charming, handsome co-worker, who later turns out to be ruthless serial murderer Ted Bundy.
The newest installment in Rule's 'Crime Files' series, Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors draws from Rule's archive of previous works. In this book, Rule describes in detail two tragic cases that left behind a plethora of unanswered questions, including the case of missing woman Susan Powell - a particularly gripping story that will keep the avid reader immersed.
'The Rope' by Alex Tresniowksi
Taking a trip back to the era of the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement, The Rope weaves a complex story dealing with the 1910 murder of schoolgirl Marie Smith in New Jersey.
The book is far from a straightforward true crime book, instead bringing together multiple subplots that eventually intersect to paint a shocking picture.
'The Rope' reads like a crime fiction novel, keeping the reader on edge with regular twists and turns. There's a creepy sex predator, a detective's first murder case, and a wrongfully accused black man who narrowly avoids being lynched. For a real life story of unbelievable brutally, The Rope delivers.
'I'll Be Gone In The Dark' by Michelle McNamara
While I'll Be Gone In The Dark isn't a brand new release, it's mandatory reading for any lover of true crime books.
For decades, a mysterious assailant known as the Golden State Killer terrorized California, committing sexual assaults and murders up and down the state. This book chronicles a the investigation of a woman obsessed with finding the truth.
Michelle McNamara was a true crime reporter who collected hundreds of police reports and legal documents on the case, desperate to find whoever this monster was. McNamara's work was the eventual key that helped uncover the Golden State Killer's true identity. I'll Be Gone In The Dark is nothing short of a true crime classic.
'The Third Rainbow Girl' by Emma Copley Eisenberg
This New York Times bestseller looks into a decades-old double murder that took place in rural West Virginia in 1980. Two young women hitchhiked to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering, but never arrived at their destination. Eventually, their disappearances were ruled a suicide.
Many suspects came and went, with one being eventually found guilty, but then an infamous serial killer confessed to the murders and took the case on a series of wild turns. Emma Copley Eisenberg navigates the reader through the case's trials and tribulations with effective and masterful prose.
'Don't Call It A Cult' by Sarah Berman
For something a little different than your usual serial killer non-fiction, Don't Call It A Cult makes a superb choice. Anyone who's seen Netflix's The Vow will already know about the bizarre NXIVM cult and their manipulative ways, and this book exposes their cruel methods even further.
Utilizing blackmail, iron branding, physical abuse and extreme starvation to bend people to their will, this is the true tale of how NXIVM leaders kept their followers in line. The book draws on public records and witness testimonies to really paint a picture of cult life.
'Two Truths And A Lie' by Ellen McGarrahan
Ellen McGarrahan was a reporter whose obsession with a particular case turned her into a private investigator. As a reporter for the Miami Herald, McGarrahan covered the case of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted for the murders of two police officers. But McGarrahan soon arrives at the conclusion that a wrongful man had been sentenced to death.
McGarrahan follows the evidence; court files, interviews, articles, desperately seeking the truth. She soon realizes that the questions of who is innocent and who is guilty are complex and difficult to untangle.
'The Babysitter: My Summers With a Serial Killer' by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan
The Babysitter blurs the lines between investigative journalism and memoir. One of the authors, Liza Rodman, recalls her childhood with great fondness. While her mother was busy working, Liza was left alone with her babysitter - a generous, charming gentleman by the name of Tony Costa.
Costa would often take Rodman to his 'secret garden' in the woods of Truro, and it wasn't until many years later that Rodman discovered exactly why this garden was so secret.
Her handsome babysitter moonlighted as a serial killer, and left the remains of his vicims in that very place. The story is one of despair and personal tragedy and will leave readers with a heavy sense of unease.
'Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion' by Tori Telfer
For something a little lighter but still very much true crime, Confident Women by Tori Telfer takes a look into the lives and crimes of what are commonly known as conmen. Or in this case, conwomen. All of the manipulative swindlers in this book are ladies who conned, connived and deceited their way to fortune.
Elizabeth Holmes, the phony blood test entrepreneur. Social illusionist Anna Delvey. Kate and Maggie Fox, the 1800s sisters who convinced people they could communicate with spirits. Confident Women is a fascinating look into the lives of these tricksters, including their impact on popular culture and American history.
'The Beauty Defense: Femmes Fatales on Trial' by Laura James
On the subject of deadly women, here's another fantastic read that deals with femme fatales. The Beauty Defense is a collection of true stories that follows cases from the 1800s right through to present day, featuring poisoners, sex workers, scorned mistresses and more.
Laura James throws in plenty of gender discussion for good measure. One particularly riveting stories features that of Madeline Smith, a serial poisoner who murdered lover after lover. Smith's attorney later used Smith's gender as a defense tactic, asking whether someone so beautiful could really commit murder.
'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote
While not a brand new true crime release, no list of crime books is complete with Truman Capote's classic. The book tells the true story of the Clutter Family, who were brutally slain in Kansas, 1959 by shotgun-wielding attackers. What was once mandatory reading in schools is now a crime story for the ages.
Capote's writing style mimicks that of a thriller novel, keeping readers on the edge throughout the whole story. Alongside similar classics like Devil In The White City and the Manson Murders, In Cold Blood is one of the crime books that changed America.
'Say Nothing' by Patrick Radden Keefe
One of the most distressing stories of all time, Say Nothing deals with a sinister abduction in Northern Ireland in 1972. Jean McConville, a mother of ten, was forcefully taken from her home in front of her children. She was never seen alive again.
Patrick Radden Keefe paints a picture of the circumstances surrounding the crime and how McConville's sensless murder haunted a generation in Ireland for decades. Say Nothing is proof that a high death toll isn't necessary to craft a captivating story.
'The Psychopath: A True Story' by Mary Turner Thomson
After several years of blissful marriage, Mary Turner Thomson discovered that her loving husband Will wasn't who she thought he was. Thomson discovered that Will was a con man and convicted sex offender who'd been hiding behind a mask their entire relationship.
Her husband, the titular psychopath, actually had several families and numerous children all under Thomson's nose. Thomson then set on a mission to expose her former lover and help protect other women who might also end up victims. The results are both harrowing and explosive.
'A Life Stolen' by Sarah Sak
Those who've seen the recent hit show Four Lives with Stephen Merchant might already be familiar with this tragic story. Between 2014 and 2015, British serial killer Stephen Port took of the lives of four young men who he met on various dating apps. Port would lure his victims to his home, drug them and leave them for dead.
The author, Sarah Sak, has a close connection to the case as she's actually the mother of one of the victims. Sak writes with ferocity holds nothing back, describing Stephen Port as a remorseless monster who disguised himself as a saint but acted as a coward. A Life Stolen is a tragic story that leaves the reader heartbroken and yearning for justice.
The Daniel LaPlante book seems MIA. On twitter the author keeps saying it’s delayed but there’s no trace of it on any bookseller or publisher site that I can find. Is there any inside scoop as to who is publishing this book?
Can’t wait to read the Daniel LaPlante book. The Mary Turner Thomson one is already out and it’s really good too