The Best True Crime Books
Everyone loves a good murder mystery, but what about the outstanding literature of true crime?
Crime fiction spends a great deal of time sorting through the chaos to find some order, a sense of resolution for the often inexplicable madness of murder. Real crimes, however, don’t work that way. Evidence is misfiled, suspects evade arrest on technicalities, investigations stretch out for years before an end comes in sight—if at all. True crime is a messier affair, but in the hands of these writers, the true specter of violence and mayhem, science and psychology is elevated to literary art.
In Cold Blood By Truman Capote
In many ways, this is the ur-true crime text, defining the upper limit of what this often sneered-upon genre can do: use the story of one grisly act as a jumping-off point for larger considerations of the human condition. The bare bones of how Perry Smith and Dick Hickock tortured and killed the Clutter family are easily available via Wikipedia, but settling for the facts is like choosing McDonald’s over Peter Luger’s for your burger. Capote’s account of the crime’s impact on the small town of Holcomb, Kansas illuminates the banality of evil, and reminds us how thin is the line that separates horror from normality.