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Crime News Serial Killers

10 True Crime Books To Read Before The New Year

Downtime around the holidays. Here's 2019 true crime reading you need to catch up on.

By Gina Tron
True Crime Books

The best thing about a slower holiday work schedule? More time to read about true crime. 

Yes, you and your loved one already have subscriptions to all the streaming platforms and you love texting about all the gory details. Now, instead of arguing over which episode of "Snapped" was most disturbing, you and your bud can have your own little true crime book club. And while we'd never suggest cutting down on binging Oxygen, a break from screens can be helpful every once in a while. 

Take a little "me" time —shut your blinds, turn off your phone, put some candles on and dive into your true crime book. Here are some ideas about Charles Manson, Israel Keyes, the BTK Killer and more.

The Last Charles Manson Tapes

The Last Charles Manson Tapes: Evil Lives Beyond the Grave 

So you've read Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter”and seen "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." If you still want more Charles Manson, this new book is a good buy. 

“The Last Charles Manson Tapes” dives into new interviews with Manson’s followers, as well as interviews with experts and historians. There are also hours worth of exclusive transcripts of Manson’s rants from prison. 

Know My Name

Know My Name: Chanel Miller

This book is written by the woman who was raped by Brock Turner and she wants to make sure that her name is also remembered, as well as her story.

In “Know My Name,” Chanel Miller recounts the night she was assaulted while blacked out outside a Stanford party. The 2015 attack led to the now infamous Turner trial. He ended up getting sentenced to only six months in jail, but served less after he was released on good behavior. The case sparked widespread backlash and shed light on how unjust sexual assault cases can be. Before revealing her name, Miller had delivered powerful victim impact statement in court that was published in its entirety on BuzzFeed News.

Lady In The Lake

Lady in the Lake

Best-selling author Laura Lippman came out with another gripping crime book in 2019, this one set in 1960s Baltimore and focused on housewife Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz, who leaves her marriage of 20 years and sets off to become a reporter. Two of the cases in the story were inspired by real Baltimore area murders in 1969: Esther Lebowitz, a case of a missing girl Lippman read about when she was a child, and that of Shirley Parker, whose body was found in a fountain in the lake at the zoo, which Lippman heard about years when she worked at The Baltimore Sun. 

"It struck me that they happened in the same year, one was a big story in the local daily newspapers and the other only was covered by African-American newspapers," Lippman told Oxygen.com "A little white kid like me growing up never knew anything about that case, and there’s a window into the 1960s, and maybe not just the 1960s. In 2019, cases of missing women that receive national attention and still tend to be young, white women. Lots of women of color disappear all the time and it doesn’t become national news."

If You Tell

“If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

The daughters of a woman imprisoned for murder reached out to the author of this book so that they could help warn the public in anticipation for their mom’s upcoming release. Michelle "Shelly" Knotek has been serving time for the torture deaths of Kathy Loreno and Ronald Woodworth but is due to be released in the summer of 2022.

Author Gregg Olsen dives deep into the case through the perception of Knotek’s now adult daughters Nikki, Sami, and Tori. The siblings ultimately went to the police when they realized their mom was a killer. Their bravery led to the official discovery of Loreno and Woodworth’s murders, in addition to the murder of their cousin Shane Watson, whom Knotek’s husband was convicted of killing.

Hoffas Shadow

In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth

Did you watch “The Irishman”  are are still wondering how Jimmy Hoffa really died?  This book is written from the point of view of Chuckie O’Brien’s adopted son Jack Goldsmith. O’Brien was the foster child of Hoffa. He was also one of the key suspects in Hoffa’s vanishing. Nobody was ever convicted in connection with Hoffa’s disappearance, but the suspicions have long cast shadows over O’Brien’s life. Goldsmith addresses these rumors and his relationship with his father in this book which gives a whole new angle to the Hoffa case.

Highway Of Tears

Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 

Journalist Jessica McDiarmid meticulously investigates decades worth of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, cases that have often been overlooked due to systemic racism. The book specifically focuses on isolated stretch of highway in Canada known as the Highway of Tears.

Through interviewing those close to the victims, McDiarmid gives these women and girls a voice after their voices have long been ignored. This book illuminates how systemic injustice decides which murder victims are deserving of sympathy, and proves that this practice needs to stop.


Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales 

Have questions about multiple-millionaire sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein’s death? The book promises to offer “bombshell new revelations along with “groundbreaking new reporting, never-before-seen court files, and interviews with new witnesses and confidants.”

American Predator

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

This book shows just how creepy Israel Keyes was. Not only was he a serial killer, but he took road trips with the specific destination of murder in mind. In “American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century,” author Maureen Callahan, goes into horrifying detail about just how diabolical Keyes was and how much he loved killing. She explains how the man with ties to the Oklahoma Bombing created and buried kill kits and how he may have even tried to biohack himself to turn himself into the perfect killer. 

Chase Darkness

Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders

This book isn’t just an interesting look into what made investigative journalist Billy Jensen start solving murders through crowd-sourcing, but it also gives tips on how to do it yourself. Jensen, one half of the “Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad” podcast has solved and help solve ten homicides and counting. So, he knows what he’s talking about. From bonding over true crime stories with his dad as a kid to teaching people how to track down assailants, this book is entertaining and informative. 

A Serial Killers Daughter

A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming

This book gives unbeatable insight into the life of Dennis Rader, the notorious serial killer known as the BTK (short for bind, torture, kill) Killer. That’s because it’s written by his own daughter Kerri Rawson.  While the book does go into her father’s crimes, it mainly focuses on how the realization that her father was a killer impacted her. 

Spoiler: it was obviously devastating. She takes the reader down the same journey she went after discovering that the same man that terrorized Kansas for decades was the same man posing as a family man, her father. She also brings the reader in as she makes the difficult decision to forgive him.

Gina Pace contributed to this report.