A killer clown, an “angel of death,” and cousins who strangle women for fun. These might seem like bad guys from horror movies, but it’s much scarier than that: They’re all real-life criminals, who left a shocking number of victims in their wakes. Read about their crimes against humanity in the chilling true crime books below.
Holcomb, Kansas, is left in shock when the Clutter family is shot dead in their home with no apparent motive. Though you know who the killers are early on in the book, it is Capote’s masterful narration and the detailed, disturbing look into the minds of the accused that made In Cold Blood the benchmark of the true crime genre.
John Wayne Gacy was a businessman who was found guilty and sentenced to death for murdering 33 boys — and hiding many of their bodies underneath his house. It’s a horrific account of the “Killer Clown” that begins with an abusive childhood, his double life as an adult, and a graphic account of the sexual assault and murder inflicted upon the young victims.
Winter of Frozen Dreams, by Karl Harter
After Jeremy Davies and his fiancée, Barbara Hoffman, find a stranger’s dead body in the snow, the police reveal that this man was an ex-lover of Hoffman’s … and that he was killed in her apartment. Does Davies need to fear for his own life?
The Hillside Stranglers, by Darcy O’Brien
Like Truman Capote in In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer in The Executioner’s Song, Darcy O’Brien weds the narrative skill of an award-winning novelist with the detailed observations of an experienced investigator. In Hillside Stranglers, he unravels the chilling true-crime story of Kenny Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono, who brutally sexually assaulted and murdered young women.
The People Who Eat Darkness, by Richard Lloyd Parry
In the summer of 2000, 21-year-old Lucie Blackman disappeared in Tokyo, her dismembered remains found in a cave a year later. The culprit, a wealthy businessman Joji Obara, was a serial sex offender who drugged his female victims. Richard Lloyd Parry takes us through the flawed Japanese legal system that failed to convict Obara of murder and the divisive effect the trial had on Blackman’s family.
The Good Nurse, by Charles Graeber
Charlie Cullen took advantage of his profession and access to ailing patients to enable his twisted desire to kill—over and over again. As the murders racked up (300-plus) his friend and NJ detectives raced to stop him. But what is also unearthed is the climate of negligence of hospital administration. Rather than report Cullen, they sought to cover up his crimes and make him some other hospital’s problem.