10 Books That Will Change How You See True Crime

If you're excited for American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, here are some shocking, compelling, and thought-provoking books that should be on your to-read list:
  1. 1.
    The Run of His Life: The People vs O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
    The source material for FX's new limited series. Toobin, who covered the court proceedings for the New Yorker, presents a gripping and page-turning play-by-play of the "Trial of the Century" that reads more like a thriller than a work of nonfiction.
  2. 2.
    People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
    One of those books that makes you fall off the face of the earth until you finish it, this concerns the case of a young British woman who disappeared from the streets of Tokyo in 2001. Following the discovery of her dismembered remains in a seaside cave, Richard Lloyd Parry spent ten years dissecting Japan’s convoluted legal system, Tokyo’s booming sex industry, and the lingering stigma of Korean immigration in order to delve deep into the “unprecedented and extremely evil” mind of the accused.
  3. 3.
    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    Laconic and atmospheric, this intensively researched narrative of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and the two men who brutally murdered them on the night of November 15, 1959, 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.
  4. 4.
    Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
    There is a serial killer at large on Long Island with five murders to his credit. Lost Girls is the haunting account of the unsolved case and a humanizing depiction of Craigslist escorts. Robert Kolker reveals the three-dimensional truths about the lives of the five known victims and where these women’s stories come together in death and a dark mystery.
  5. 5.
    Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
    Jon Krakauer, author of Into The Wild and Into Thin Air, has staked his literary reputation on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extreme physical adventure to the extremes of religious belief within America’s own borders, taking readers inside an isolated community of Mormon fundamentalists who insist they received a command from God to kill an innocent woman and her baby girl.
  6. 6.
    Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi
    In the summer of 1969, a series of brutal, random murders shook Los Angeles and captured headlines across America. The Manson murders assumed the proportions of myth, coming to mark the end of the sixties and represent the dark underbelly of that era. Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the trial, and this book is his enthralling account of the case.
  7. 7.
    Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance by Ian Buruma
    It was the emblematic crime of our era: on a cold November day in Amsterdam, Mohammed Bouyeri, the son of Moroccan immigrants and an Islamic extremist, shot and killed the celebrated and controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh, great-grandnephew of Vincent and iconic European provocateur. The murder horrified Holland, a nation that prides itself on being a bastion of tolerance, and sent shock waves across Europe and around the world.
  8. 8.
    God’ll Cut You Down by John Safran
    John Safran, a Jewish Australian documentarian, spent two days in Mississippi with Richard Barrett, a notorious white supremacist, for a film about race. When Barrett was brutally murdered a year later by a young black man, he hightailed it back to Mississippi. As he became entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder—white separatist frenemies, oddball neighbors, even the killer himself—the more he discovered how complex the truth about someone’s life and death can be.
  9. 9.
    Midnight in Peking by Paul French
    In 1937, Peking was thick with tension. A heady mix of privilege and opulence—Japanese troops had occupied nearby Manchuria and were encircling the ancient city walls, One night, the mutilated body of Pamela Werner, the daughter of a former British consul to China, is discovered, and even as the Japanese tighten their noose around the city, her murder transfixes Peking.
  10. 10.
    Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon
    A detective procedural set in Baltimore that aired throughout the 90s, one of its producers/writers, David Simon, later went on to create The Wire. But long before The Wire or Homicide were on the air, Simon was the author of this classic