Well, that time has come. The final credits of “Making A Murderer” scroll past. The sweeping violin fades. If you’re me, this ending moment of the 10-episode Netflix program happened the same weekend it came out, the definition of binge-able.
So now what? Pick up one of these classic true crime books if you want to get your mind off the shmuckery of the justice system, but can’t get enough of lawyerisms, psychopaths, confessions, and swoon-worthy defense attorneys.
If I Can’t Have You by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris
This is one that had me yelling from page 1, “DON’T GO IN THERE!,” “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!,” and other such helpful words of wisdom. Josh Powell is one of the most obviously villainous villains from the get-go (not unlike Teresa Hallbach’s brother…or maybe that’s just MY theory…), and nobody saw it until it was too late. Then there’s Steve Powell, Josh’s dad, who has a sexual obsession with his son’s wife that’ll give you the willies for days. Charming family.
The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber
The way that “Making a Murderer” has viewers wringing their hands over the criminal justice system, this one will make readers roll their eyes about how desperate hospitals can be for staff. Which is the only way to explain how serial murderer Charlie Cullen was able to not-really-inconspicuously kill over 300 patients, get fired, and then re-hired elsewhere with some discrete erasure of his employment history.
People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
The disappearance and murder of Lucie Blackman struck a chord in Great Britain — the chilling story of this tall, charming, blonde, and beautiful young woman sucked into the gritty underbelly of Tokyo’s “hostessing” world, never to emerge. Some of the most fascinating parts of this book were about Japan’s criminal justice system, not to mention the unforgettably strange and evil man discovered as the murderer, Joji Obara.
Manson by Jeff Guinn
This is the most comprehensive and enlightening exploration of Manson and his legendary 60s murders. The fact that Guinn also uncovers (SPOILERS) a. how much of a twat Dennis Wilson truly was and b. that Charlie Manson greatly enjoyed the work of comedian George Lopez in his modern daily prison life are also real treats.
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
One of the most prolific and influential true crime writers of our time, commonly considered one of the founders of the genre, Ann Rule kicked off her illustrious career with The Stranger Beside Me. She was shocked to discover that one of her good friends and her coworker at a crisis hotline was notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. Luckily, she was not quite Bundy’s type. This is definitely one of those books that makes you give your coworkers the side-eye…
Judgement Ridge by Dick Lehr and Mitchell Zuckoff
I read this tale of two Dartmouth professors who were brutally murdered in their home by local teenagers on when I was on vacation in a remote locale–late at night, in the dark, when my entire family was asleep. The combination of violence, class politics, and an Ivy League setting chilled me to the core and had me jumping at every tiny sound. Don’t ruin your vacation like I did–please read this one with the lights on, preferably in a crowded location surrounded by people you love.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The grandfather tome of the true crime genre, In Cold Blood is required reading for any wannabe sleuth or Saturday night “Dateline” obsessive. Capote and his pal Harper Lee set out to interview local residents and investigators while the murderers who killed the entire Clutter family in their remote Kansas home were still on the loose, resulting in an epic look at the psychology of the killers and the impact of the crime on a tight-knit community.
Now go forth, my fellow “Making a Murderer” bingers. Go forth and read!