Serial Killers have always been quite a dicey topic. Everyone is curious about their motives yet terrified by their antics. The most frightening thing about them is that art is hardly distinguishable from real life when one reads about their deeds and compares them with fictional depictions of this particular brand of criminals.
A lot of fictional works have been written about this sort of people. Here, you would read short appraisals about a few of those books.
1. The Stranger Beside Me-Ann Rule
The Stranger Beside Me is an autobiographical and biographical true crime book written in 1980. Ann Rule wrote this book about Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer whom she knew personally.
The first few chapters of the book are an introduction to Ted Bundy. It talks about the circumstances of his birth, his family, after which it goes on to describe the relationship between the author and Ted, her impressions of him, and her doubt about the whole affair of his crimes.
The author reveals how she met Bundy in the early 70s while studying psychology at the University of Washington. Ted and the author subsequently developed a close acquaintance and shared meals and conversations on occasion. Fortunately, she lost contact with him in the last months of 1973 when he stopped working at the emotional aid facility.
Shortly after that, in the early months of 1974, a spate of gruesome murders in Seattle left the city in shock. The murders happened at a consistent rate of about one woman per month or every 30 days. Around that time, Ted became a suspect in the case because the suspect was described as a handsome, tall male who identified himself as “Ted.”
Ted eventually gained admission to the University of Utah to study law. While there, the murders resumed, and they were done in the same fashion as those in Seattle when Ted resided there.
This book is a most gripping account of the grim story of Ted Bundy and the events of his capture, prosecution, and execution.
2. The Devil In The White City-Erik Larson
This book is a historical non-fiction written by Erik Larson and published in 2003. It is a story about real characters and events from history, rendered in a novelistic style.
It tells the story of the man known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, a man reputed to be the first “modern serial killer.” The book is set in Chicago, which is the actual place where H.H. Holmes plied his trade as a doctor and also committed his horrible crimes.
It recounts how H.H Holmes, a mentally disturbed pharmacist, and doctor lured his victims to an abandoned building opposite his pharmacy to murder them. He called the building his “Murder Castle.” The Real H.H Holmes was later caught and sentenced to death, after which the state executed him.
3. Zodiac: The Shocking True Story Of The Hunt For The Nation’s Most Elusive Serial KilleR-Robert Graysmith
This book is non-fiction, written about the unsolved murders of one of America’s most elusive serial killers, popularly known as “Zodiac killer” through the late 60s and early 70s.
The book recounts the author’s own personal efforts to find the Zodiac killer. The book also recounts the efforts of other law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the CIA in locating this killer.
The author expounds on a few personal theories on the case, which lead him to name two possible suspects. He then proceeds to narrate the details of some circumstantial evidence against them.
The author himself was a cartoonist working with the “San Francisco Chronicle” when the murders began. The San Francisco Chronicle received some letters from someone claiming to be the Zodiac, after which subsequent letters arrived with pieces of blood-stained cloth to prove his authenticity.
At that point, the author becomes intrigued and begins collecting his scrapbook of evidence which he intended to be the basis for his subsequent investigation into the identity of the Zodiac killer.
The author eventually spent ten years gathering information on the Zodiac. All that information and the investigations which went into the collation of the info became the material for his book. Although the identity of the Zodiac killer still has not been ascertained, this book has proved quite a hit among those curious about the events and details surrounding the mysterious murderer.
4. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search For The Golden State Killer-Michelle McNamara
This book investigates the murderer known as “The Golden State Killer,” who was active in California from the early ’70s to the mid-90s.
The title refers to one-half of a full threat the killer made to one of his victims. He reportedly said, “You would be silent forever, and I will be gone in the dark.” It’s quite chilling when one realizes how that part of the title came to be.
It was the author herself who coined the term “Golden State Killer.” The culprit was known as “East Area Rapist,” amongst many other grim epithets. The author’s work increased the public’s awareness about the existence of such a criminal.
Unfortunately, the author died suddenly of medical complications while writing the book’s final chapters. Therefore, it was completed by Paul Haynes, Bill Jensen, and the author’s husband, Patton Oswalt.
The book was released two years after her death. Shortly after that, a suspect would be arrested in connection with the case.
5. My Friend Dahmer-Derf Backderf
This book is unique because, unlike the others, it is a graphic novel and also doubles as a memoir. In this book, the author narrates his friendship with renowned murderer Jeffrey Dahmer when they were both teenagers.
The author goes into detail, describing vividly the relationship and events that transpired while he and Dahmer were friends in Revere High School and Eastview Junior High School. The narrative spans from when Dahmer was 12 up to around two weeks after they both graduated high school when he purportedly committed his first murder.
The author presents a brutally Frank narrative of Dahmer, detailing his struggles as a teenager and his battle with his demons. He describes how Dahmer was constantly bullied, the subsequent isolation which may or may not have contributed to his binge drinking and bizarre attention-seeking behavior.
He also noted Dahmer’s weird fascination with roadkill. The author manages to do all that without absolving Dahmer of any responsibility for his crimes, not even once. With a bit of regret, the author further narrates how he and the other kids encouraged Dahmer’s bad behaviors by urging him to fake epileptic seizures in public places like the shopping mall and even within the school itself.
This book tells the true origin story of the making of a villain. It illustrates an old African Adage that says: A Child who is denied warmth by the village would set it on fire to feel the same warmth.
A fascinating read about the making of a psychopath.
6. The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, And Why Of The World’s Most Terrifying Murderers-Harold Schechter
This book is a chilling compendium of some of the grim characters who make Hollywood horror movies seem like comedies compared to their lives. It chronicles a terrifying tapestry of the macabre menaces known to humanity as serial killers.
The author is a much-acclaimed scribbler of biographies for the bedeviled. He had three such tomes to his credit, each of which dealt with a single character before he dropped this one which touched the vast majority of the depraved and demonically deranged subset of criminals.
The book boasts meticulous research on each character, detailing every aspect of the lives and habits of these individuals. He spares no detail as he shows us their favorite
His narrative spans through history, too, as he goes from Ed Gein, who became the metaphor for the modern psychopathic killer, to the fifteenth-century cave-dwelling Beane family who were insatiable cannibals. He also mentions the Hillside Stranglers, a sex-crazed, killer cousin duo whose real names were Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono.
7. In Cold Blood-Truman Capote
In Cold Blood was released in 1966. The author tells the story of the murders of the members of the Herbert Clutter family, which happened in 1959. The author describes his journey from when he first learns of the murders to his investigation. He travels to Kansas from New York to write about the crime, all before the criminals were even caught.
The book saw instant success and is reportedly the second-best crime thriller book in history. The author delves into the events preceding the crime and the subsequent events. The author narrates the story using three perspectives: the lives of the killers, the lives of the victims, and the lives of other community members.
The book is regarded as a pioneer in true crime, although the book omits important details and some important real events that concern the whole murder for reasons best known to himself.
8. American Predator-Maureen Callahan
The author chronicles the life of a lesser-known killer who was no less depraved than those of his ilk. Israel Keyes. The author noted that the culprit was sometimes referred to as – a force of pure evil.
The author reveals in the book how Isreal would travel across the country to commit murders with his self-named “murder kits” and dispose of the bodies before returning home to live a peaceful life as a construction worker who dotes on his only daughter.
The author does a credible job considering her limited resources when compared to traditional law enforcement.
9. Vulgar Favors-Maureen Orth
In the first half of 1997, Gianni Versace was shot and killed by Andrew Cunanan in his own house in Miami beach.
Coincidentally, the author was already writing an article about the killer. She gleaned her material from thousands of pages of police reports and interviews with more than four hundred people. She explains why the FBI had difficulty catching him.
The author presents a candid view of a psychopath using an image carefully built from numerous sources.
10. Nobody’s Women-Steve Miller
The author of this work is an investigative journalist and a correspondent with the Dallas Morning News. The book details the horrid crimes of registered sex offender and ex-marine Thomas Sowell.
In 2009 police officers showed up at his house to arrest him but stumbled upon a gory scene. His house contained the rotting bodies of two women. Upon further investigation, 11 more bodies of murdered women were found.
Thomas Sowell, despite his respectable and well-spoken persona, was a monster of the most depraved variety. He specialized in snatching homeless and drug-addicted women off the street and murdering them.
His logic was that since they existed on the fringes of society, no one would not miss them. The book is an intelligent narrative of his reprehensible activities as a psychopathic killer-a chilling read.
11. The Want-Ad Killer-Ann Rule
Ann Rule, the prolific chronicler of the macabre, is the author of this account of yet another depraved maniac named Henry Louis Carignan. He was taken to court for his crimes once and managed to beat a death sentence.
However, that was not enough to set him straight. He continued on his grim course using job ads to lure women to his abode, where he would rape and then bludgeon them to death.
The book tells the story of his deeds and eventual arrest and incarceration.
12. Perfume-Patrick Suskind
Perfume is the tale of a serial killer who was born with an absolute sense of smell. In the slums of France in the 18th century. He grows up and hones his gift by becoming an apprentice to a perfumer.
He then embarks on a personal quest to create the perfect perfume when he discovers that the scents of young virgin girls are the most powerful and exotic of all-his quest results in a murder spree. Perfume is a fascinating tale of murder and sensual depravity.
13. And Then There Were None-Agatha Christie
This book is a gripping tale about a group of people who received an invitation to the island, after which they start getting murdered one after the other in a gruesome fashion. The identity of the killer is a mystery to all.
The author admits it was the most difficult work of prose she ever scribbled. A thoroughly engaging read it turned out to be.
14. Invisible Darkness-Stephen Williams
This book was published on the 1st of December 1997. It tells the strange tale of a psychopathic Husband and Wife duo, Paul and Karla Bernando.
The couple specialized in kidnapping, imprisonment, and eventual murder of high-school girls to satisfy their sexual fetishes.
15. Jane Steele-Lyndsay Faye
This novel tells the tale of Jayne Eyre, who was maltreated cruelly by her aunt and schoolmaster. When she eventually flees, she makes sure she leaves their corpses behind.
As a result, she becomes a serial killer who lives in London’s underbelly. Subsequently, she embarks on her twisted one-woman vigilante quest until she falls in love and has to balance both facets of her life.
Serial killers are a reprehensible subset of humanity. Regardless of the reasons for their actions, no one deserves the fate they mete out their hapless victims. The list of books would fascinate, horrify and maybe even depress you if you have no way to nullify the gloomy contents.