Charles Graeber’s Top 10 True Crime Books

The crime fiction genre is extremely popular.  I, too, am a big fan of the genre.  I came across an article in the Gaurdian, Charles Graeber’s Top 10 True Crime Books, and having enjoyed In Cold Blood by Truman Capote I thought I’d share this list of 10 classic true crime books to sate any crime fiction lovers appetite…except these stories aren’t stories at all… Charles Graeber is the author of The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder published in 2013.

“The most prolific serial killer in American history refused to speak with anybody. Then he started talking to me. Eight years later, the result is The Good Nurse, a book which, as a work of non-fiction with murder involved, is shelved in the genre of true crime.”

To start off this list of classic true crime I will begin with Graeber’s own novel:

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

“After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed “The Angel of Death” by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.  Cullen’s murderous career in the world’s most trusted profession spanned sixteen years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When, in March of 2006, Charles Cullen was marched from his final sentencing in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, courthouse into a waiting police van, it seemed certain that the chilling secrets of his life, career, and capture would disappear with him. Now, in a riveting piece of investigative journalism nearly ten years in the making, journalist Charles Graeber presents the whole story for the first time. Based on hundreds of pages of previously unseen police records, interviews, wire-tap recordings and videotapes, as well as exclusive jailhouse conversations with Cullen himself and the confidential informant who helped bring him down, THE GOOD NURSE weaves an urgent, terrifying tale of murder, friendship, and betrayal.” (read more on GoodReads)

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty insist they were commanded to kill by God. Krakauer’s investigation is a meticulously researched, bone-chilling narrative of polygamy, savage violence and unyielding faith: an incisive, gripping work of non-fiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behaviour.  (read more on GoodReads)

All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

All the President's Men

In the most devastating political detective story of the century, two Washington Post reporters, whose brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation smashed the Watergate scandal wide open, tell the behind-the-scenes drama the way it really happened. Beginning with the story of a simple burglary at Democratic headquarters & then continuing with headline after headline, Bernstein & Woodward kept the tale of conspiracy & the trail of dirty tricks coming—delivering the stunning revelations and pieces in the Watergate puzzle that brought about Nixon’s scandalous downfall. Their explosive reports won a Pulitzer Prize for The Washington Post & toppled the President. This is a book that changed America. (read more on GoodReads)

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine

Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, “Columbine” is an award-winning journalist’s definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.  It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?  On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave a lasting impression on the world. Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence–irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting ‘another Columbine.  (read more on GoodReads)

Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson

Blood and Money

Power, passion, oil money, murder—all the ingredients of a fast-paced, gripping mystery novel drive this true-crime story that on its original publication leapt onto best-seller lists nationwide. To that mix, add glamorous personalities, prominent Texas businessmen, gangland reprobates, and a whole parade of medical experts. At once a documentary account of events and a novelistic reconstruction of encounters among the cast of colorful characters, this anatomy of murder first chronicles the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death in 1969 of Joan Robinson—the pampered daughter of a Texas oil millionaire and the wife of plastic surgeon Dr. John Hill—then examines the bizarre consequences that followed it. For in 1972, having been charged by his father-in-law with Joan’s death and having survived a mistrial, John Hill himself was killed, supposedly by a robber. So was the robber, by a cop, supposedly for resisting arrest. From the exclusive haunts of Houston’s super-rich to the city’s seamy underworld of prostitutes, pimps, and punks, author and investigative journalist Thomas Thompson tracks down all the leads and clues. And in a brutal tale of blood and money he uncovers some shocking and bitter truths. (read more on GoodReads)

The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

The Executioner's Song

In what is arguably his greatest book, America’s most heroically ambitious writer follows the short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of America’s prisons who became notorious for two reasons: first, for robbing two men in 1976, then killing them in cold blood; and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on dying for his crime. To do so, he had to fight a system that seemed paradoxically intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death. Norman Mailer tells Gilmore’s story–and those of the men and women caught up in his procession toward the firing squad–with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a restraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gilmore’s Utah. The Executioner’s Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest sources of American loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement–impossible to put down, impossible to forget. (read more on GoodReads)

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy, the Shocking Inside Story by Anne Rule

The Stranger Beside Me (Revised and Updated): 20th Anniversary

Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting. (read more on GoodReads)

Homicide: a year on the Killing Streets by David Simon

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the center of this hurricane of crime is the city’s homicide unit, a small brotherhood of hard men who fight for whatever justice is possible in a deadly world.  David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and this electrifying book tells the true story of a year on the violent streets of an American city. The narrative follows Donald Worden, a veteran investigator; Harry Edgerton, a black detective in a mostly white unit; and Tom Pellegrini, an earnest rookie who takes on the year’s most difficult case, the brutal rape and murder of an eleven-year-old girl. (read more on GoodReads)

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider’s position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the twentieth century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Here is the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime. (read more on GoodReads)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.  As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence. (read more on GoodReads)

People Who Eat Darkness: the Fate of Lucie Blackman by Richard Lloyd Parry

People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman

Lucie Blackman – tall, blonde, and twenty-one years old – stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.  The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie’s desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a ‘hostess’ in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve? (read more on GoodReads)

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Verity M

Writer. Love Reading, Photography, & Life Design. I'm all about Curiosity & Creativity.

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