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Are the best Criminal Minds episodes on repeat just not cutting it anymore? Have you already finished Mindhunter and all TV shows similar to Mindhunter? I know the feeling. I don't know what it is, but anything related to serial killers or true crime is a must-watch in my book. Maybe that says something about me... Oh well, best to ignore it.
If you're continuously looking for chilling and engrossing criminal content, you need to check out the best true crime books of 2018. There are a lot of books being released this year that are captivating and will leave you with your jaw on the floor. So if what I described above applies to you, keep scrolling and take your pick from the best that 2018 has to offer.
The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder by Nikki Meredith
Released in March, Nikki Meredith's true crime book is certainly chilling. The award-winning journalist visited Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, two women who committed brutal acts of murder for Charles Manson, in prison to try and glean their motives.
Manson, who recently died at 83, was the infamous cult leader that formed "The Manson Family" in California. He was the patriarch and brain behind nine killings, all carried out by his "family" members. Meredith's conversations and relationship with the two women offer a new perspective on the infamous killings and what makes seemingly normal people commit horrific crimes.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson
One of the most recent true crime books of 2018, The Feather Thief was published in late April. Kirk Wallace Johnson's novel deals with one of the more unique crimes you'll ever hear: bird theft. Edwin Rist, a 20-year-old American flutist who was attending the London Royal Academy of Music, stole hundreds of exotic bird skins from the Natural History Museum at Tring in the UK.
Johnson's investigation lasted for years, as he was committed to finding out why Rist would steal dead birds and if he ever paid for his crime. Falling away from the normal, more heinous themes of most true crime stories, this is the perfect choice for those who don't have the strongest stomach.
True Crime Stories Volume 10: 12 Shocking True Crime Murder Cases (True Crime Anthology) by Jack Rosenwood
This one is definitely a cheat of some sort but I felt it needed to be included. A #1 best-seller on Amazon, Jack Rosewood presents you with 12 total true crime murder cases. For those who enjoy investing themselves in one story with one set of characters for several hundred pages, this is obviously not for you.
This is for the those of you who love to watch Law and Order marathons all day, experiencing a different case every hour. The crimes that Rosewood goes over are mainly related to youth violence, showing you how killers not yet old enough to drive can become terrifyingly unbalanced. It will give you goosebumps and keep you obsessed until the last page.
Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter
The best books regarding criminality involve serial killers, and that is certainly the case for the best true crime books of 2018. Belle Gunness is one of America's most prolific serial killers but does not have the same name recognition as Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. Luring men to her "Murder Farm," Gunness is believed to have killed somewhere around 25 to 30 people. I say killed, but what would be a more apt description is "butchered." Harold Schechter delivers a full-length background and overview of one of the worst murderers in American history that no one has heard of.
Hunting El Chapo: The Inside Story of the American Lawman Who Captured the World's Most-Wanted Drug Lord by Andrew Hogan and Douglas Century
Taking a step back from serial killers and gruesome murders, we stumble across a good ol' fashioned manhunt. The most notorious drug lord since Pablo Escobar (Narcos was so, so good), Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman evaded and escaped capture for years. Written by the Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent who tracked and chased the Mexican drug kingpin, Andrew Hogan, Hunting El Chapo provides real accounts and firsthand experience about what capturing him was truly like.
If you enjoy fast-paced detective work and behind the scenes looks at large-scale operations, this is your best option and is very reminiscent of Zero Dark Thirty. Soon to be a major motion picture, make sure to read this so you can be the annoying person who says, "the book was better" in the theater and actually know what you're talking about. No shame in that—the book is always better, after all!
A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong
A False Report combines a heartbreaking tale with the high-quality storytelling of two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists. T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong chronicle the story of a teenager who is raped, confronted by the police, and branded a liar for having inconsistencies in her story. Years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith is investigating a similar case when she makes a connection between the two victims.
Another detective-heavy story, this book follows the hunt for a serial rapist who is an expert in blackmailing his victims and erasing any evidence left behind. A powerful and tragic story, this is one of true crime books of 2018 you need to read.
Mary Flora Bell: The Horrific True Story Behind An Innocent Girl Serial Killer by Nancy A. Veysey and Ryan Becker
Nothing is creepier than a child murderer. Mary Flora Bell was only 11 years old when she was found guilty in 1968 for the murder of two boys. She strangled a four-year-old and three-year-old, whom she later mutilated with a pair of scissors. Nancy A. Veysey and Ryan Becker review and analyze her life, including the traumatic childhood she endured and her short-lived killing spree. Bell was released from prison in 1980 and remains free to this day, albeit with an anonymous identity and new life.
The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington
Even though the cadaver king and the country dentist sound like somewhat cool nicknames, they do not depict somewhat cool people. They refer to Dr. Steven Hayne and Dr. Michael West, two "experts" that are responsible for the incarceration of Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. Brooks and Brewer were found guilty of the rape and murder of two three-year-old girls.
The only problem was, they didn't do it. The two innocent men would spend a combined thirty years in prison before exoneration in 2008. The first of the true crime books of 2018 to touch upon racially-charged crime, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington detail the story of how bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional negligence were at the forefront of this gargantuan failure of justice.
In Plain Sight: The Kaufman County Prosecutor Murders by Kathryn Casey
The infamous Kaufman County killer, Eric Williams, was sentenced to death in 2014 for his crimes. In 2017, a court of appeals upheld the death sentence. This ensured that the man who killed Mike McLelland, the district attorney of Kaufman County, his wife Cynthia McLelland, and top prosecutor Mark Hasse, would face justice. A case that grabbed national headlines in 2013, Kathryn Casey's creep-filled book has just the right amounts of suspense and intrigue. It takes you into the minds of law enforcement officials who had to track down this killer before he could do anything to hurt anyone again.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle Eileen McNamara
Of all the best true crime books of 2018, this one has tragedy attached after its release. Michelle Eileen McNamara, wife of actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, died while writing this novel. Due to the nature of the book, it has been reported that McNamara suffered from anxiety and nightmares that were not permitting her to sleep. Oswalt revealed the believed cause of death in 2017, citing an unfortunate overdose of Xanax as the primary culprit.
McNamara's life can be remembered for her incredible writing and extensive research in I'll Be Gone in the Dark. In it, she tries to identify the Golden State Killer, a person believed to have committed over 50 sexual assaults and at least ten murders. Original and invested, McNamara offers a look into the environment of the time period and personal accounts of victims that lived through it.