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The Best True Crime Books In 2020 Will Ensure You'll Never Want To Leave The House

These riveting true crime reads will keep you plenty entertained as you ride out the coronavirus pandemic.

By Becca van Sambeck
Books Coronavirus

People are choosing to stay indoors during the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), and rightfully so. By self-isolating and social distancing, the disease's spread can be mitigated and thousands of lives can be saved. But while staying at home is the right thing to do, it can still be pretty boring. So, how do you kill time? Well, how about with books about killers?

The below reads all came out in the first few months of 2020 and detail all kinds of crimes. Looking for one focused on a murder investigation? We have that. More into debunking conspiracy theories? Dive into a book about Elisa Lam's mysterious death. Not into murder? Well, try one about the origins of an eerie cult.

Trust us, these true crime books, both creepy and enthralling, will ensure you'll have no interest in leaving your home, anyway.

Broken Faith

Associated Press reporters Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr take readers inside their investigation of the secretive Word of Faith Fellowship, a Christianity-based cult that grew from a small congregation in North Carolina to churches in Brazil. As reported by Weiss and Mohr, Word of Faith leaders exert complete control over their congregants' lives and practice a frightening ritual called “blasting,” in which people are screamed at and abused in order to drive out “demons.” Relying on personal stories of people who escaped the faith, court cases, and recordings of “blasting sessions,” Weiss and Mohr tell a compelling and frightening story about a group that continues to operate.

The Adventurers Son

In July 2014, scientist and National Geographic explorer Roman Dial's 27-year-old son, Cody, embarked on a hike through Costa Rica, emailing his father to tell him he expected the excursion to last four days. His father never heard from him again. In Dial's book, he recounts his journey into the rainforest to learn what exactly happened to his son. The area he was going into was home to poachers and drug dealers, after all — could it have been murder? An accident out in nature? Or something else altogether?

American Sherlock

We've all heard of Sherlock Holmes, but have you ever heard of Edward Oscar Heinrich, the man referred to as the American Sherlock Holmes? Starting work in the 1930s, decades before the advent of DNA testing and widespread security camera usage, he would go on to solve 2,000 cases in 40 years. In this biography of Heinrich, you can learn about the high-profile cases he solved and how he promoted techniques law enforcement still uses today like blood splatter analysis and finger printing, as well as the mistakes he made along the way.

The Third Rainbow Girl

In July 1980, Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in Pocahontas County, West Virginia while hiking to a festival called the Rainbow Gathering. The investigation into the Rainbow Murders, as they became known, went through several twists as multiple suspects emerged over the years. In this book, Emma Copley Eisenberg spends time living in the Pocahontas County, investigating the murders and the long-lasting impact they've had on the tiny rural community.

Gone At Midnight

The security video footage of Elisa Lam before her death in 2013 went viral years ago, sparking all kinds of conspiracy theories: Why was the young woman so agitated, seemingly speaking and reacting to a figure who wasn't there? And how did she end up dead in the water tank of Los Angeles' infamous Hotel Cecil? This book investigates the circumstances of Lam's death, the morbid history of the hotel, and the various theories — murder, accident, or the paranormal? — surrounding her mysterious demise.

Natalie Wood

The life of iconic Hollywood movie star Natalie Wood is often overshadowed by the mystery of her death. She died at the age of 43 during a yacht trip with husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken. However, the book “Natalie Wood: The Complete Biography” explores in painstaking detail Wood’s life, from her relationship with her mother to the trajectory of her storied career. The biography puts her legacy as an actress and family woman at its center, but still provides a detailed account of the actress’ tragic final moments.

The Falcon Theif

We so often read about crimes against humans, but that's not the only kind of crime out there: Wildlife is often threatened and hurt by people, too. This book takes you all around the globe as it follows a man who captures rare endangered birds to make millions and the detective who works to protect birds around the world from predators like this criminal.

The Phantom Prince

Most true crime fans know all about "The Phantom Prince," Elizabeth Kendall's 1981 memoir of her time dating infamous serial killer Ted Bundy while he was carrying out a murder spree. But in conjunction with Amazon's latest docu-series, "Falling For a Killer," which was inspired by the book, a newly updated edition has been released. Read all about the six years Kendall and Bundy spent together to get a better image of who Bundy was, and to truly understand how we might not really know the people closest to us.

Start By Believing

America has long been proud of its phenomenal gymnastics team, which regularly wins medals during the Olympics and other competitions. But a dark secret was recently uncovered in USA Gymnastics: Larry Nassar, a doctor at Michigan State University who treated countless young Olympians, also molested hundreds of young gymnasts. In this book, reporters unravel how Nassar was protected by corrupt institutions — and document the brave people instrumental to taking down the sexual predator.

Yellow Bird

Sierra Crane Murdoch tells the story of Lissa Yellow Bird, a Native American woman who is released from prison in 2009 and returns home to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, only to discover a community totally changed by an oil boom. In this haunting book, Yellow Bird attempts to hunt down an oil site worker, Kristopher “KC” Clarke, who has gone missing, while reckoning with the effects that corporate interests have had on her reservation, as well as her own past crimes and trauma.