7 Great True Crime Reads You Can Read at Home

We are continuing our mystery month coverage here and as you can tell, our readers love mystery fiction.  But with today’s post, we thought we’d shake it up and bring you some non-fiction that is SCARY and TRUE.  There is NOTHING creepier than a crime book that is non-fiction.  The events, places, and people are real and have had very horrible things happen to them.  Some of these crimes are downright eerie and some are just plain weird.  Whichever type of non-fiction crime story you prefer,  OverDrive has 7  true crime tales you can download to your e-reader and enjoy with your library card.

Please note:  Several of the items below depict violence, murder, and possible gory details.  Please check out at your own discretion.  The library assumes no responsibility for psychological triggers and the decision to read the material lies at your discretion as a patron.  

 

The Burger Chef Murders in Indiana

Julie Young

Summary:

The evening of November 17, 1978, should have been like any other for the four young crewmembers closing the Burger Chef at 5725 Crawfordsville Road in Speedway, Indiana. After serving customers and locking the doors for the night, the kids began their regular cleanup to ready the restaurant for the following day.

But then something went horribly wrong. Just before midnight, someone muscled into the place, robbed the store of $581 and kidnapped the four employees. Over the next two days, investigators searched in vain for the missing crewmembers before their bodies were discovered more than twenty miles away. The killer or killers were never caught. Join Julie Young on an exploration of one of the most baffling cold cases in Indiana history.  — Goodreads.com

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The Killer of Little Shepherds

Douglas Starr

Summary:

A riveting true crime story that vividly recounts the birth of modern forensics.

At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher, known and feared as “The Killer of Little Shepherds,” terrorized the French countryside. He eluded authorities for years—until he ran up against prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era’s most renowned criminologist. The two men—intelligent and bold—typified the Belle Époque, a period of immense scientific achievement and fascination with science’s promise to reveal the secrets of the human condition.

With high drama and stunning detail, Douglas Starr revisits Vacher’s infamous crime wave, interweaving the story of how Lacassagne and his colleagues were developing forensic science as we know it. We see one of the earliest uses of criminal profiling, as Fourquet painstakingly collects eyewitness accounts and constructs a map of Vacher’s crimes. We follow the tense and exciting events leading to the murderer’s arrest. And we witness the twists and turns of the trial, celebrated in its day. In an attempt to disprove Vacher’s defense by reason of insanity, Fourquet recruits Lacassagne, who in the previous decades had revolutionized criminal science by refining the use of blood-spatter evidence, systematizing the autopsy, and doing groundbreaking research in psychology. Lacassagne’s efforts lead to a gripping courtroom denouement.

The Killer of Little Shepherds
is an important contribution to the history of criminal justice, impressively researched and thrillingly told.  — Goodreads.com

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A Murder in Music City

Michael Bishop & Richard Walter

Summary:

Nashville 1964. Eighteen-year-old babysitter Paula Herring is murdered in her home while her six-year-old brother apparently sleeps through the grisly event. A few months later a judge’s son is convicted of the crime. Decades after the slaying, the author stumbles upon a secret file related to the case and with the help of some of the world’s top forensic experts–including forensic psychologist Richard Walter (aka -the living Sherlock Holmes-)–he uncovers the truth. What really happened is completely different from what the public was led to believe.

In this true-crime page-turner, the author lays out compelling evidence that a circle of powerful citizens were key participants in the crime and the subsequent cover-up. The ne’er-do-well judge’s son, who was falsely accused and sent to prison, proved to be the perfect setup man. The perpetrators used his checkered history to conceal the real facts for over half a century.
Now, for the first time, the author reveals the true story. Including interviews with the original defense attorney and a murder confession elicited from a nursing-home resident, the information presented here will change Nashville history forever.  —  Goodreads.com

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At the Hands of a Stranger

Lee Butcher

Summary:

I didn’t kill them for any satisfaction. It was distasteful. It was dreadful. Of course, I was able to do it because of my general rage against society.

Meredith Emerson was a recent college graduate who disappeared while taking her beloved dog, Ella, for a hike on Georgia’s Blood Mountain on New Year’s Day, 2008. Cheryl Dunlap was a nurse whose body was found in Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest after she failed to show up to teach her regular Sunday School class in December 2007. Vibrant, beautiful, caring women, loved by their friends and families, with everything to live for. . .until they fell into the trap of Gary Michael Hilton, a former Green Beret paratrooper and expert outdoorsman with a twisted lust for violence. What they suffered at his hands was unspeakable. Even after two convictions, the question remains–how many innocent victims were prey to his evil designs?  — Goodreads.com

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The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

Kate Summerscale

Summary:

The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.

At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable—that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today…from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade.  — Goodreads.com

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Murder in Little Egypt

Darcy O’Brien

 

Summary:

The unimaginable crime of filicide takes on the cast of tragic inevitability in this haunting true tale of violence, greed, revenge, and death. Fusing the narrative power of an award-winning novelist and the detailed research of an experienced investigator, Darcy O’Brien unfolds the story of Dr. John Dale Cavaness, the southern Illinois physician and surgeon who in December 1984 was charged with the murder of his son Sean.

Outraged by the arrest of the skilled medical practitioner who selflessly attended to their needs, the people of Little Egypt rose to his defense. In the trial, however, a radically different, disquieting portrait of Dr. Cavaness would emerge. For throughout the three decades that he enjoyed the admiration and respect of his community, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments as well as brawling and womanizing.

What was not revealed in the trial, however, was that seven years earlier, in a homicide that had never been solved, the body of Cavaness’s firstborn son, Mark, had been found shot dead in the woods of Little Egypt. In addition to a compelling chronicle that uncovers the truth behind two ghastly crimes and lays bare the Jekyll–Hyde psyche of their perpetrator, Murder in Little Egypt brings into stark midwestern light the hidden, gothic underside of an America bred on violence and bathed in blood.  — Goodreads.com

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Empire of Sin

Gary Krist

Summary:

From bestselling author Gary Krist, a vibrant and immersive account of New Orleans’ other civil war, at a time when commercialized vice, jazz culture, and endemic crime defined the battlegrounds of the Crescent City

Empire of Sin re-creates the remarkable story of New Orleans’ thirty-years war against itself, pitting the city’s elite “better half” against its powerful and long-entrenched underworld of vice, perversity, and crime. This early-20th-century battle centers on one man: Tom Anderson, the undisputed czar of the city’s Storyville vice district, who fights desperately to keep his empire intact as it faces onslaughts from all sides. Surrounding him are the stories of flamboyant prostitutes, crusading moral reformers, dissolute jazzmen, ruthless Mafiosi, venal politicians, and one extremely violent serial killer, all battling for primacy in a wild and wicked city unlike any other in the world. — Goodreads.com

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