Guilty Pleasures: 9 true crime books to get caught reading

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Vancouver Public Library and V.I.A. have teamed up to help you discover new reads, hidden book gems and surprising literary finds. 

Are you guilty of bingeing on true crime podcasts and Netflix series? Looking to get an even deeper look at these stories? Clear your weekend because we’ve curated a collection of books that will not let you go until you’ve turned the final page.

Books with wooden judges gavel
Books with wooden judges gavel /iStock

The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas P. Starr

This is a thrilling account of the origins of modern forensic science in late 19th-century France. In alternating chapters, Starr tells the story of sadistic serial killer Vacher and the criminologist Lacassagne, who modernized forensics.

I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara obsessively examines the unsolved Golden State Killer murders hoping to solve this decades-long mystery. Released after McNamara’s untimely death, this is a masterful true crime story.

Cold Case Vancouver by Eve Lazarus

Local history buffs and fans of true-crime writing will be fascinated with Eva Lazarus’ study of Vancouver area crimes from the last 50 years that remain unsolved to this day.

The Girl on the Velvet Swing by Simon Baatz

In 1901 a chorus girl named Evelyn Nesbit dined with architect Stanford White. After drinking champagne Nesbit lost consciousness and awoke to find herself in bed with the much older man. Years later her husband, millionaire Harry Thaw would murder Stanford White in front of New York society for this transgression. This story chronicles the sensational murder and subsequent trial.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

This book gives the full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist John Carreyrou.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the former an architect responsible for constructing the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and the latter the charismatic serial killer responsible for luring young women to their death in his “World’s Fair Hotel.”

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

This captivating piece recounts the brutal murder of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas. Originally told as a serial in the New Yorker in 1965, this story alternates between the lives of the Clutter family and the two men that murdered them, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith. This chilling narrative will make you feel like you were there on that fateful night in 1959.

American Fire by Monica Hesse

The arsons in Accomack County began in November and continued night after night for months. Monica Hesse, a reporter who spent years investigating the story, explores the life of the struggling mechanic that confessed to the crimes and the love story that motivated him.

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy Tyson

This book re-examines the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a pivotal event of the civil rights movement. Tyson draws on new evidence and testimony from those involved as well as court transcripts from the trial.