True crime reads for your social distancing needs

Full disclosure: I’m very behind on my reading list, and I’m still working through (or planning to start) several of the selections here. But since we’re all cooped up at home anyway, it looks like we have plenty of time to finally enjoy them.

For maximum impact, I highly recommend lighting a candle, applying a moisturizing face mask and pouring yourself a glass of wine (cheap or otherwise) before diving into one of these books. If you’re stuck in quarantine by yourself, like I am, be sure to read the spookiest chapters at night in complete silence for full freak-out effect.


A Mind for Murder by Noreen Renier with Naomi Lucks

I barely still have the memory of going to the local Barnes and Noble with my dad to hear the author (a psychic investigator!!!) read from this book, but I love that both of them encouraged my early fascination. Since I can’t even remember reading this one, it’s definitely back on my list.


The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I started reading this book sometime last year (?) but didn’t manage to finish it before returning it to the library. It’s a long read but it beautifully captures the ethos of Holmes’ heyday in late 19th-century Chicago, which is something most Holmes documentaries struggle to do without turning totally lurid and campy. Fortunately Leo DiCaprio is adapting this into a film with Scorsese, so I’m confident the two of them will get it right. I was very pleasantly surprised when my friend Sammy offered me this copy to keep (thanks, girl!), so now I get a second chance to read about the rest of H. H. Holmes murder mansion exploits before the movie debut.


Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

This classic was a gift from my beloved Honorary Mom Allison, an early encourager and friend of the blog 🙂 It’s such a true crime standby that in the Netflix series Mindhunter, the FBI agent character is seen reading this book in preparation for his interview with the notorious Charles Manson.


Southern Nightmare by Richard Foster

My favorite hometown true crime read is by Richmond author Richard Foster, who generously sent a copy of his book with me after I shared how much I enjoyed his podcast, Southern Nightmare. If you aren’t familiar with Richmond’s own serial killer, the South Side Stalker, I highly recommend diving into this morbid chapter of the city’s history with both the podcast and the book.


Mindhunter by John Douglas and Mark Okshaker

I started reading this timeless true crime masterpiece during vacation last summer, shortly after devouring the second season of Netflix’s series based on this book. With mandatory quarantine looming, what better time to finish it?


I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara 

When this book was released in 2018, I rushed to the book store to get my copy and then celebrated with murderinos around the country when the Golden State Killer was finally captured shortly after. This is one of my favorite true crime novels because as much as I love Michelle’s writing style, her irresistible fascination with cold cases and her determination to be involved in the hunt really resonated with me in an unexpected way. Michelle, Billy Jenson and all the armchair detectives of the world remind us that ordinary people have the power make real contributions to social justice.


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

After coming across a preview of this novel on NPR’s website, I immediately pre-ordered it to take on vacation and devoured it in less than a week. Although it’s hard to declare a real winner, this book might perhaps be my number one favorite true crime book of all time, so I absolutely believe you should read it for yourself. Rumor has it that Leo DiCaprio is also turning this one into a film, and I can’t wait to see how this incredibly important story will be told on the big screen.


Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark 

These ladies brought me full into the murderino fold, so I owe it to them to finally finish reading the last 50 pages of their dual memoir that I started when it first came out last year. Tbh I was mildly distracted by my life falling apart at the time, but now everyone’s lives are at a standstill so I’m ready for Karen and Georgia to comfort me once more. I’ve been planning a full-fledge review of this book for awhile, so stay tuned.


BONUS: Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell

While not pictured, this book was a great close look into the most famous and possibly the most misunderstood cold case in the U.S. Pair it with the Dahlia-adjacent story of I Am the Night for extra entertainment.


What are you reading right now? Got any recommendations to share?