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During lockdown a lot of us were inspired to indulge in hobbies and interests we may not get to do very often, us included!

One of my favourite past times is reading. My dream home would have floor to ceiling book cases everywhere. My favourite type of books to read are true crime books (or anything factual, my brain is like a SPONGE). I have an undying thirst that only the darkest, weirdest most gruesome true crime cases can quench.

Below is a list of my favourite True Crime books – (that I’ve read so far).

*Reader discretion is advised – this article and the books listed include graphic details of REAL murders.

Cruel Sacrifice – by Aphrodite Jones

true crime books - cruel sacrifice

‘On a freezing January in 1992, five teenage girls crowded into a car. By the end of the night, only four of them were alive. The fifth had been tortured and mutilated nearly beyond recognition. Her name was Shanda Sharer; her age-twelve.’

Hard to read but wonderfully written. Not for the faint hearted as this book covers the now infamous murder of 12 year old Shanda Sharer. This book dives into all the details of the case including the events running up to her murder. It also covers the consequences of the actions of four vicious young girls. This case is abhorrent but Cruel Sacrifice is regarded as one of my favourite books I own.

Dead In The Water – by Penny Farmer

dead in the water - true crime books

In 1978, two tortured corpses were discovered in the sea off Guatemala. Hooded, bound and weighted down with heavy engine parts, Chris and his girlfriend Peta were still clinging to life when they were thrown overboard.

This was one of those books I bought on a whim after reading about the case. And boy did this turn my stomach. It’s not very often a book really gives me nightmares but this one haunted me for a couple of days after I finished it. This case is heartbreaking and the way it is written sucks you in and brings you crashing down to Earth. Penny did an excellent job writing about such a painful part of her life.

Unsolved Child Murders: Eighteen American Cases, 1956-1998 – by Emily. J Thompson

unsolved child murders

‘An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States. Only one in 10,000 are found dead. Drawing on FBI reports, police and court records, and interviews with victims’ families, this book provides details and evidence for 18 unsolved cases from 1956 to 1998.’

I may be bias including this book on our list as I have been a fan and follower of Emily’s writing since I was a teenager. She manages to handle very tough subjects with sensitivity and compassion. This book is excellent for anyone who may not be able to read long-winded books, alternatively anyone who may not have the time to sit though a thousand page novel. Each chapter covers a different case. Emily also currently runs her own True Crime podcast and website called Morbidology, you can find more info on where to listen to it on her website HERE!

Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge – by Jim Schutze

bully

‘Bobby Kent was a bully–a steroid-pumped 20-year-old who dominated his peers in their comfortable, middle-class Ft. Lauderdale beach community through psychological, physical and sexual abuse. But on a summer night in 1993, Bobby was lured to the edge of the Florida everglades with a promise of sex and drugs and was never seen alive again.’

Bobby Kent was murdered by a gang of 7 people he regarded as friends, including his ‘best friend’ – Martin Joseph “Marty” Puccio, Jr. Author Jim Schutze covers all details of this case including the events leading up to the murder. They meticulously planned out Bobby’s murder and even sought out the help of a ‘hit-man’, as well as making one failed attempt to take his life. Very well written and detailed!

Life After Death – by Damien Echols

life after death

‘In 1993 three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley Jr were arrested and charged with the murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Echols was accused of, among other things, practising witchcraft and satanic rituals – a result of the “satanic panic” prevalent in the media at the time. Baldwin and Miskelley were sentenced to life in prison. Echols, deemed the ringleader, was sentenced to death. He was eighteen years old.’

Although not specifically a True Crime book, this autobiography captures the years Damien Echols spent behind bars on Death Row after being found guilty, along with Jessie Miskelley Jr and Jason Baldwin, of the child murders at Robin Hood Hills. This book also covers Damien’s eventual release. It’s not everyday someone survives Death Row!

Devils Knot – by Mara Leveritt

 

‘Devil’s Knot is the story of the West Memphis Three, three teenagers convicted of the murders of three third graders in 1992. The story is highlighted by gross incompetence on the part of the police dept and the courtroom tactics of Judge Burnett, who it appears, had made up his mind about the outcome of the trial before it began.’

In this book author Mara Leveritt covers the murders of three young boys at Robin Hood Hills and the trial of the three young men accused of their murders. Now famously known as the ‘West Memphis Three’. This case gained a lot of press coverage as it was during a time of ‘Satanic Panic’. A time where there was mass paranoia over the practise of witchcraft, magic and Satanism.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – by Mary Roach

‘Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings.’

This one doesn’t quite fit in with true crime books, but I enjoyed it too much not to include! This was a super interesting and humorous read about the various ways our bodies are used when donated (or in some cases, stolen!) after death.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our list of True Crime Books! Our email is always open to new reading suggestions.

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