True Crime

Please visit the Illinois State Library's Talking Book and Braille Service website at:

http://www.ilbph.org

Check out our new True Crime book list! If you're fascinated by the mysterious, psychological, and sometimes disturbing elements of criminals, their crimes, and the criminal justice system, don't miss out on any of these riveting bestsellers!

 

Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony

Jeff Ashton

DB074059

Retired Florida attorney details the three years he spent prosecuting Casey Anthony for the death of her two-year-old daughter Caylee. Recounts the evidence against Casey, her ever-changing story, unusual behavior during Caylee's absence, and history of fabrications. Expresses his astonishment at her 2011 acquittal. 2011.

Bestseller, Law, Sociology, Criminal Justice

Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt for the BTK Strangler

Robert Beattie

DB060180

Lawyer chronicles the more-than-three-decade search for the self-named serial killer BTK (bind, torture, kill), who terrorized Wichita, Kansas, residents. Begins with the 1974 discovery of the first-known victims, summarizes the murderer's media correspondence, and follows the case through the 2005 arrest of Dennis Rader. 2005.

Bestseller, Sociology, Biography, Serial Killers, Download Only

The Wolf of Wall Street

Jordan Belfort

DB078145

Autobiography of Wall Street mogul Belfort, who made billions in the early 1990s when he owned the Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm. Highlights his business dealings, substance abuse, and hard-partying lifestyle, as well as his 1998 arrest for securities fraud and money laundering. 2007.

Bestseller, Autobiography, Business

All the President's Men

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

DB050574

Two Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters chronicle their investigation of the Watergate scandal, which began as a burglary of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on June 17, 1972. They explain the events that precipitated their first suspicions and led them to ascertain the truth. 1974.

Bestseller, Politics, Government, History, Award Winning, Journalism

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus

DB081802

Drawing upon their recollections and diaries, two of the three victims of Cleveland school-bus driver Ariel Castro share the story of their abductions, their decade in captivity, and their dramatic 2013 rescue. Washington Post reporters Jordan and Sullivan interweave these events with the search efforts. 2015.

Bestseller, Biography, Commercial Audiobook

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Vincent Bugliosi

DB036994

Bugliosi prosecuted the 1969 murder case against cult leader Charles Manson and his followers. Among the brutal deaths attributed to the group is the mass murder of actress Sharon Tate and her house guests. Bugliosi gives detailed descriptions of the crime scenes, the frustrating investigation, the arrest and trial, and the retaliation murders. 1974.

Sociology, Cults, Criminal Justice, Download Only

Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder

Vincent Bugliosi

DB042643

Bugliosi, former prosecutor for Los Angeles County and renowned for winning a murder conviction against Charles Manson, analyzes the evidence in O.J. Simpson's murder trial. The author argues that Simpson did commit the grisly double murder of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman. 2008.

Bestseller, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Media

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City

John Buntin

DB069647

True Los Angeles crime legends from the 1930s to the 1960s. Features accounts of gangster Mickey Cohen and LA police chief Bill Parker amid the glitter of Hollywood and organized crime operations that included brothels, gambling circuits, drug dens, and bribery rings. 2009.

Bestseller, History, Organized Crime, Hollywood

Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-1934

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Joe Lansdal

DB069471

Discusses events that led to the FBI's 1933-1936 "war on crime" led by J. Edgar Hoover. Examines activities of John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, and Bonnie and Clyde to depict depression-era robbers and murderers. 2004.

Bestseller, History, Organized Crime, Sociology

In Cold Blood

Truman Capote

DB022726

The author coined the term "nonfiction novel" for this account of the murder of a Kansas family. He reconstructs the crime and the backgrounds and personalities of all the principals, drawing his information from observation, interviews, and official records. 1965.

Bestseller, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Award Winning

The Butcher: Anatomy of a Mafia Psychopath

Philip Carlo

DB071692

Author of The Night Stalker (DB062844) chronicles mobster assassin Tommy "Karate" Pitera's brutal killings in New York City during the 1980s. Discusses Pitera's life, his associates, and DEA agent Jim Hunt's investigation that led to Pitera's arrest. 2009.

Organized Crime, Criminal Justice, Sociology

The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez

Philip Carlo

DB062844

The background, crimes, capture, and trial of the serial rapist and murderer dubbed "Night Stalker," who terrorized Los Angeles in 1985. Original 1996 edition with supplemental transcript of a 2005 death-row interview in which Ramirez discusses his groupies--one of whom he married. 1996.

Criminal Justice, Sociology, Serial Killers, Download Only

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper--Case Closed

Patricia Cornwall

DB055063

Author of the Kay Scarpetta mysteries uses forensics to try to determine the true identity of the 1888 London serial killer Jack the Ripper. Reconstructing the case and its context, Cornwell charges painter Walter Sickert with the much-disputed mutilation murders of prostitutes. 2002.

Bestseller, History, Sociology, Serial Killers

A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation

Catherine Crier

DB060149

Former judge analyzes the California murder case and evidence that Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife, Laci, on December 24, 2002, because he had a sociopathic personality. Reconstructs the police investigation, Peterson's suspicious behavior, family dynamics, and the trial that sent Scott to death row. 2005.

Bestseller, Biography, Criminal Justice, Download Only

Columbine

David Cullen

DB068856

Journalist uses eyewitness testimony, police reports, and the killers' writings to dispel myths that the Columbine shooters were bullied, isolated kids who targeted victims. Argues Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had friends, good grades--and plans to blow up the school. Discusses the murderers' psychological assessments. 2009.

Bestseller, Psychology, Mass Shootings

A Stolen Life: A Memoir

Jaycee Dugard

DB073692

The author describes her 1991 abduction at age eleven by parolee Phillip Garrido and his wife. Recounts her eighteen years of captivity, during which she endured sexual abuse and raised two daughters, and her 2009 discovery and rescue. 2011.

Bestseller, Autobiography

My Dark Places

James Ellroy

DB044271

A mystery writer's dark memoir of his mother's murder when he was ten years old, and his youthful decline into crime, substance abuse, and alienation. Obsessed with his mother's memory, he investigates her death--and her life--thirty-six years after the fact. 1996.

Bestseller, Biography, Family, Download Only

Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

John Grisham

DB063332

In 1982, a twenty-one-year-old cocktail waitress was raped and murdered in Ada, Oklahoma. Five years later, a former Oakland A's pitcher and his friend were arrested for the crime, convicted, and sentenced. Grisham examines the impact police misconduct, DNA analysis, and the death penalty had on the case. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2006.

Bestseller, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Biography, Commercial Audiobook

The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime

Miles Harvey

DB052209

Reconstructs the 1990s crime career of Gilbert Bland Jr., a master thief of rare, valuable maps from renowned libraries. Embellishes Bland's biography with the history of cartography; portrays a subculture of scholars, collectors, and dealers who are obsessed with antique maps. 2000.

Cartography, Sociology, Download Only

Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder

Steve Hodel

DB056255

Retired LAPD detective describes how he pieced together evidence that led him to conclude that his own father--a sophisticated Hollywood doctor who died in 1999--was a sadistic serial killer who committed the notorious, long-unsolved 1947 murder and mutilation of Elizabeth Short, known as the Black Dahlia. 2003.

Bestseller, Sociology, Family, History, Download Only

Mississippi Mud: A True Story from a Corner of the Deep South

Edward Humes

DB039713

When a county judge and his mayoral-candidate-wife were murdered in 1987, their daughter was dissatisfied with the investigation that the local police force in Biloxi, Mississippi, mounted. So she hired a private investigator and soon learned that her suspicions were well-founded. It seems that her father was the target of an organized-crime operation. 1994.

Southern Culture, Organized Crime, Criminal Justice, Download Only

Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer

Michael D. Kelleher

DB047023

A study of nearly one hundred female serial killers outlining their motives, methods, and eventual punishments. Organized into ten chapters by category of murder such as: black widows, revenge, angels of death, and team killers. 1998.

Serial Killers, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Download Only

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

Piper Kerman

DB077538

Upper-middle-class author chronicles her conviction and incarceration in 2003 for drug smuggling and money laundering--crimes she committed ten years earlier after graduating from Smith College. Kerman relates her immersion into prison culture at a minimum-security facility in Connecticut. 2010.

Bestseller, Autobiography, Sociology, Prison

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

Robert Kolker

DB077197

New York magazine writer fleshes out the lives of five suspected victims of a serial killer--all escorts who advertised online--whose bodies were found on the barrier islands of Long Island in 2010 and 2011. Describes investigators' efforts to solve the murders. 2013.

Serial Killers, Sociology, Criminal Justice

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Jon Krakauer

DB081250

Krakauer investigates the epidemic of acquaintance rape on college campuses, chronicling the experiences of women at Montana State University. Documents their assaults, fear and self-doubt in the aftermath, treatment by police and attorneys, public vilification and private anguish, and bravery in coming forward--and its cost. 2015.

Bestseller, Sexual Assault, Education, Criminal Justice

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

Erik Larson

DB055748

The author of Thunderstruck (DB 063094) traces the crimes of Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who preyed on young women during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in the amazing landscape that architect Daniel H. Burnham created in a mere two years. 2003.

Bestseller, Biography, History, Sociology, Architecture

Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal

Dick Lehr

DB055068

Investigative journalists expose FBI corruption. In 1975 Boston FBI agent John Connolly began using Irish mobster Jim "Whitey" Bulger as an informant. Though Bulger committed outrageous crimes, the state police and federal drug agents were never able to get a conviction, and authorities became suspicious of a fix. 2000.

Bestseller, Organized Crime, Government, Criminal Justice

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

Jill Leovy

DB080674

The kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder--one young black man slaying another--and driven detectives like John Skaggs, whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. 2015.

Bestseller, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Commercial Audiobook

The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief

Ben Macintyre

DB044865

Portrait of a famous "gentleman" thief of the Victorian age. After being misreported as dead in the Civil War, Adam Worth began a forty-year career that would lead him to the top of an international criminal empire. Worth became the literary model for Professor Moriarty, the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. 2011.

Bestseller, History, Biography, Download Only

The Executioner’s Song

Norman Mailer

DB013985

True-life novel meticulously details the events of a haunting nine-month period. An obscure criminal, Gary M. Gilmore, who is sentenced to die for two murders, rejects any attempts at reprieve and becomes the first man executed in America in more than a decade. Mailer scrupulously presents the evidence in the case and its outcome. Pulitzer Prize for fiction. 1979.

Bestseller, Creative Non Fiction, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Download Only

Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy

Jim Marrs

DB034712

Marrs pulls together an enormous number of theories and mountains of information about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He provides all the data he believes relevant to allow people to draw their own conclusions regarding the slaying. He discusses the shooting scene and eyewitnesses to the event, as well as major persons and organizations that may have been involved. 1989.

Bestseller, History, Politics, Government, Download Only

News of a Kidnapping

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

DB044812

A Nobel Prize-winning writer's factual account of the 1990 political abduction of prominent Colombian citizens by drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. Starkly chronicles the hostages' seizures, their ordeals in captivity, and their ultimate releases or deaths. 1997.

Bestseller, Organized Crime, Politics, South American Interest, Download Only

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us about Crime

Val McDermid

DB085116

Scottish author of A Place of Execution (DB067779) and other crime fiction--who is also a former journalist--examines the science and history of forensics in crime solving. Uses past cases to explain how such things as blood spatter, DNA, forensic psychology, fingerprinting, pathology, and entomology have proven guilt. 2014.

Science, Psychology, History

The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics

James O’Brien

DB076285

Chemistry professor and Sherlock Holmes scholar O'Brien analyzes the ways the fictional detective relied on forensic science to solve crimes. Details Holmes's use of handwriting analysis, cryptology, and--two years before police did--fingerprinting. Traces the development of these techniques and their application in actual cases. 2013.

Science, History, Criminal Justice, Literature

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up

Richard Lloyd Parry

DB076031

London Times Tokyo bureau chief investigates the case of twenty-one-year-old Englishwoman Lucie Blackman, who was murdered after moving to Tokyo, Japan, in 2000 to work as a nightclub hostess. Follows the trial of the accused and describes the Blackman family's anguish. 2011.

Japanese Interest, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Commercial Audiobook

The Monster of Florence

Douglas Preston

DB066942

Author Preston describes the cold case of a serial killer who murdered seven pairs of lovers outside Florence, Italy, between 1974 and 1985. Working with Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi, Preston details their quest for the man they believe is guilty and their run-ins with authorities. 2008.

Bestseller, Serial Killers, Italian Interest

Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

William Queen

DB060481

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent, who's also a Vietnam vet, describes how he went undercover in 1998 to join Southern California's vicious Mongols Motorcycle Club. Reconstructs his twenty-eight-month experience as a member of the gang. 2005.

Bestseller, Organized Crime, Autobiography, Sociology, Download Only

Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer

Ann Rule

DB059828

Crime journalist analyzes the twenty-two-year search for a serial killer who terrorized the Seattle area and murdered over fifty prostitutes. Traces the victims' lives while assessing the police investigation that led to Gary Ridgway's confession in 2003. 2004.

Serial Killers, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Biography

The Stranger Beside Me

Ann Rule

DB029031

On the surface, Ted Bundy appeared to be a charming young man. He had done well in law school, was successful with women, and was on the threshold of a brilliant career. What, then, caused him to turn into a mass murderer? Ann Rule, who knew Bundy for ten years, gives her views on what happened to Bundy that made him end up on Florida's death row. 1980.

Bestseller, Serial Killers, Biography, Sociology, Download Only

True Crime: An American Anthology

Harold Schechter

DB068386

Selection of American crime reporting that spans three centuries, from Plymouth Colony governor William Bradford's description of a seventeenth-century hanging to Dominick Dunne's 2001 account of the Menendez brothers' patricide. Traces cultural shifts in true-crime writing, from its religious origins to its commercialization and sensationalization. 2008.

Journalism, History, Sociology, Literature Analysis and Criticism

Perfect Murder, Perfect Town

Lawrence Schiller

DB048109              

Describes the murder investigation of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey, who was killed at home on Christmas Day 1996. Portrays the role of the FBI and the antagonism between the Boulder, Colorado, police department and the district attorney's office. Examines newspaper articles, interviews with suspects, and the role of tabloids. 1999.

Bestseller, Criminal Justice, Family, Journalism, Download Only

Lucky

Alice Sebold

DB055335

Woman's brutally honest account of her rape as an eighteen-year-old college freshman. From the crime to the courtroom, Sebold copes with the legal and emotional consequences of the profound violence that changed her life. 1999.

Bestseller, Sexual Assault, Autobiography, Criminal Justice, Download Only

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter

Mark Seal

DB073396

Author of Wildflower (DB 70537) investigates the case of Christian Gerhartsreiter, who came to America from Germany in 1978 and adopted a series of blue-blood identities. Details Gerhartsreiter's schemes, including his last and biggest, when he posed as "Clark Rockefeller" and kidnapped his own daughter. 2011.

Bestseller, Biography, Psychology

My Story

Elizabeth Smart

DB077683

Elizabeth Smart recounts her ordeal of being kidnapped at age fourteen from her family's home in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 5, 2002, and her nine months of captivity. Highlights the ways her religious faith sustained her sanity, her subsequent recovery, and the trial of her abusers. 2013.

Bestseller, Autobiography, Religion, Criminal Justice

Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away with Murder

James Stewart

DB048832

Questions why Dr. Michael Swango was allowed to continue practicing medicine despite clear evidence that he was a serial psychopathic killer and a convicted felon--for poisoning his fellow workers. Criticizes the medical establishment's "code of silence." 1999.

Bestseller, Medicine, Serial Killers

Honor Thy Father

Gay Talese

DB035832

The story of the Joseph Bonanno organization of the Mafia, with special concentration on Bill Bonanno, son of the founder. Talese emphasizes the 1960s and focuses on the conflicting influences within the system of organized crime. 1971.

Bestseller, Organized Crime, Biography, Download Only

Tears of Rage

John Walsh

DB045026

The host of TV's America's Most Wanted show reveals the ghastly killing that devastated his family and inspired his crusade against crime. He recounts the discovery of his young son's severed head, the flawed police investigation, and his unrelenting struggle for justice. 1998.

Bestseller, Autobiography, Family, Criminal Justice, Download Only

Silent Witness: The Karla Brown Murder Case

Don W. Weber

DB037568

In 1978, twenty-two-year-old Karla Brown was raped and brutally murdered in the basement of her newly purchased Wood River, Illinois, home. Prosecuting attorney Weber and reporter Bosworth discuss the years-long investigation, the lack of evidence to tie the crime to either of the two main suspects, and the out-of-town experts who provided the instructions to finally crack the case. 1993.

Bestseller, Illinois Interest, Criminal Justice, Download Only