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5 Books to Read After Watching Bravo’s Dirty John

by | November 28

The camera pans over crashing waves. A shy smile from actress Connie Britton (who plays Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights) as she catches the eye of her new boyfriend. Sun dappled shots of the California coast, then menacing music and a realization that this picturesque setting of sunshine love actually hides something menacingly dark…then rolling credits. Huh? What are you supposed to do now to meet your newfound need for can’t-believe-it’s-true drama, con men, criminals, and insane survival stories between episodes of Bravo’s new scripted series Dirty John—inspired by the acclaimed investigative journalism podcast of the same name? Here are some book suggestions to keep you riveted.

The Hot One

The Hot One

by Carolyn Murnick

If you’re craving true crime, Cali sun, and meditations on female friendships and roles in society, The Hot One is for you. This memoir-meets-investigation by journalist Carolyn Murnick tells the story of two New Jersey girls whose lives, from seemingly the same origin, take drastically different turns. Carolyn, the bookish writer, and her best friend Ashley, a cool ‘hot’ girl, drift apart until shocking news of Ashley’s Hollywood Hills murder stirs Carolyn to examine not only Ashley’s death, but how their lives diverged and why.

A Deal with the Devil

A Deal with the Devil

by Blake Ellis

One of the most engrossing and grotesque aspects of Dirty John is how the titular criminal preyed on the vulnerabilities of kindhearted individuals. In A Deal with the Devil, two award-winning investigative journalists set out on a mission to find a mysterious French psychic at the center of a global scam targeting the elderly and emotionally exposed. After victims responded to personalized letters from a woman claiming clairvoyant powers, they were tricked into offering up their savings and losing thousands of dollars to the promise of a long life and good fortune. What Ellis and Hicken found exposed a worldwide scam that raked in hundreds of millions of dollars, in one of the longest-running cons in history.

The Man from the Train

The Man from the Train

by Bill James

Dirty John inspired countless questions, but none echoed throughout the internet as much as wondering just how John got away with his deceptions for so long. How do criminals, thieves, and murderers become serial offenders without getting caught? In The Man from the Train, famed statistician and baseball writer Bill James turns his analytical eye to investigating a century-old mystery from one of America’s deadliest serial killers. Bill and his daughter Rachel sifted through thousands of local newspapers, transcripts, and public records searching for patterns in notorious unsolved murders and made an astonishing discovery: the identity of one of the most monstrous killers in American history, and theorize on how he could have evaded capture.

Playing Dead

Playing Dead

by Elizabeth Greenwood

Looking for something a little lighter to keep the nightmares of con men away? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em and become a con man yourself! Or, more specifically, learn how one of the most impressive cons—faking your own death—is possible. Writer Liz Greenwood, when facing a mountain of student debt, let her imagination run away with her, and considered how much easier everything might be if she just disappeared…so she learned how. This smart and darkly comedic look at the business of “pseudocide” offers astonishing accounts of the people who’ve succeeded—and failed—at this bizarre feat.

Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders

Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders

by Christopher Goffard

This is an easy one. If you want more Dirty John, read more by the whip-smart investigative journalist who did the original reporting! Not only does this collection of articles from LA Times crime writer Christopher Goffard include the original “Dirty John” series, it also contains additional page-turning stories of suburban mayhem, runaways, false imprisonment, and other desperate acts. You won’t want to put it down, unless of course it’s to tune back for the next episode on Bravo…

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Raised in London, Elizabeth graduated with a degree in English from Smith College in 2013. When not reading six different novels at once she can be found Instagramming artisanal pastries and working in the marketing department of Simon & Schuster. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @eliz_bree!