True Crime: Adult Core Collection

Read the true stories behind some of the most well-known crimes in the world. You’ll find everything from murder and serial killers to environmental and political wrong-doings to historical tellings and first-person investigations.

Berendt, John, 1939-

In charming, beautiful, and wealthy old-South Savannah, Georgia, the local bad boy is shot dead inside of the opulent mansion of a gay antiques dealer, and a gripping trial follows.

Bowden, Mark, 1951- author.

"A tour de force of investigative journalism, Killing Pablo is the story of the violent rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar's criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage in a reign of terror that would end only with his death. In an intense, up-close account, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes details never before revealed about the U.S.-led covert sixteen-month manhunt. With unprecedented access to important players--including Colombian president Cesar Gaviria and the incorruptible head of the special police unit that pursued Escobar, Colonel Hugo Martinez--as well as top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar's intercepted phone conversations, Bowden has produced a gripping narrative that is a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world"--Provided by publisher.

Burns, Sarah, 1982-
Clark, Anna (Anna Leigh), author.

"Recounts the gripping story of Flint's poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure"-- Provided by publisher.

Cornwell, Patricia Daniels.
Cullen, Dave, 1961- author.

"On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school and to leave 'a lasting impression on the world.' Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence ... Dave Cullen delivers a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal. The result is an account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives a complete account of the Columbine tragedy ... A close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups, it is a human portrait of two killers."--Publisher description.

Dawson, Kate Winkler, author.

In winter 1952, London automobiles and thousands of coal-burning hearths belched particulate matter into the air. But the smog that descended on December 5th of 1952 was different; it was a type that held the city hostage for five long days. Mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and 12,000 people died. That same month, there was another killer at large in London: John Reginald Christie, who murdered at least six women. In a braided narrative that draws on extensive interviews, never-before-published material, and archival research, Dawson captivatingly recounts the intersecting stories of the these two killers and their longstanding impact on modern history.

Douglas, John E., author.

"During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life. As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Using his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing their habits, and predicting their next moves."--Page 4 of cover.

Gilmore, Mikal.

Gary Gilmore, the infamous murderer immortalized by Norman Mailer in The Executioner's Song, campaigned for his own death and was executed by firing squad in 1977. Writer Mikal Gilmore is his younger brother. In Shot in the Heart, he tells the story of their wildly dysfunctional family: their mother, a blacksheep daughter of unforgiving Mormon farmers; their father, a drunk, thief, and con man. It was a family destroyed by a multigenerational history of child abuse, alcoholism, crime, adultery, and murder. Mikal, burdened with the guilt of being his father's favorite and the shame of being Gary's brother, gracefully and painfully relates a murder tale "from inside the house where murder is born ... a house that, in some ways, [he has] never been able to leave." Shot in the Heart is the history of an American family inextricably tied up with violence, and the story of how the children of this family committed murder and murdered themselves in payment for a long lineage of ruin.

Grisham, John, author.

In the major-league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory." "Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits - drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept twenty hours a day on her sofa." "In 1982, a twenty-one-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.

Hesse, Monica, author.

"The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn't stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate--there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning. The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America"-- Provided by publisher.

Jentz, Terri, 1957-

In 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent, then attacks them with an ax. The crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna has amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack--their friendship is shattered. Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the town and makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her interviews with the townspeople yield a revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth, and ultimately finds herself face-to-face with the alleged psychopath.--From publisher description.

Johnson, Lacy M., 1978-

"Lacy Johnson was held prisoner in a soundproofed room in a basement apartment that her ex-boyfriend rented and outfitted for the sole purpose of raping and killing her. She escaped, but not unscathed. The Other Side is the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson's kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover. At once thrilling, terrifying, harrowing, and hopeful, The Other Side offers more than just a true crime record. In language both stark and poetic, Johnson weaves together a richly personal narrative with police reports, psychological evaluations, and neurobiological investigations, provoking both troubling and timely questions about gender roles and the epidemic of violence against women. "-- Provided by publisher.

King, Gilbert, author.

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller "Devil in the Grove" comes a gripping story of sex, race, class, corruption, and the arc of justice. In December 1957, Blanche Bosanquet Knowles, the wealthy young wife of a citrus baron, is raped in her home while her husband is away. Journalist Mabel Norris Reese and an inexperienced young lawyer pursue the case, winning unlikely allies and chasing down leads until at long last they begin to unravel the unspeakable truths behind a racial conspiracy that shocked a community into silence.

Kirn, Walter, 1962-

The true story of a young novelist who meets and befriends an eccentric, privileged New Yorker when he delivers a crippled hunting dog to him from an animal shelter, and later discovers that his friend was a serial imposter and brutal double-murderer.

Kolker, Robert, author.

"A literary account of the lives and presumed serial killings of five "Craigslist" prostitutes, whose bodies were found on the same Long Island beach in 2010. Based on the New York Magazine cover story"-- Provided by publisher.

Krakauer, Jon.

FAcquaintance rape is a crime like no other. Unlike burglary or embezzlement or any other felony, the victim often comes under more suspicion than the alleged perpetrator. This is especially true if the victim is sexually active, if she had been drinking prior to the assault--and if the man she accuses plays on a popular sports team. For a woman in this situation, the pain of being forced into sex against her will is only the beginning of her ordeal. If she decides to go to the police, undertrained officers sometimes as if she has a boyfriend, implying that she is covering up infidelity. She is told rape is extremely difficult to prove and repeatedly asked if she really wants to press charges. If she does want to charge her assailant, district attorneys frequently refuse to prosecute. If the assailant is indicted, even though a victim's name is supposed to be kept confidential, rumors start in the community and on social media, labeling her a slut, unbalanced, an attention-seeker. The vanishingly small but highly publicized incidents of false accusations are used to dismiss her claims in the press. If the case goes to trial, the woman's entire personal life often becomes fair game for the defense attorneys. This brutal reality goes a long way toward enplaning why acquaintance rape is the most underreported crime in America. In addition to physical trauma, its victims often suffer devastating psychological damage that leads to feelings of shame, emotional paralysis, and stigmatization. In Missoula, Krakauer chronicles the experiences of several women in Missoula--the nights when they were raped, their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them.

Krakauer, Jon.

Traces the 1984 murder of a woman and her child by fundamentalist Mormons, exploring the belief systems and traditions that mark the faith's most extreme factions and what their practices reflect about the nature of religion in America.

Lloyd Parry, Richard

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, chronicles the 2000 disappearance, massive search, long investigation, and the even longer murder trial behind the gruesome murder case of Lucie Blackman in Japan.

MacLean, Harry N.

Recounts the true story of the murder of Ken Rex McElroy, a man who had terrorized and bullied the citizens of Skidmore, Missouri, and whose killer is still protected by a code of silence.

Marzano-Lesnevich, Alexandria, author.

"Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley's face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes -- the moment she hears him speak of his crimes -- she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky's childhood, and by examining his case, is forced to face her own story, unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime."-- Provided by publisher.

McNamara, Michelle, 1970-2016, author.

"A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer-- the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade-- from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case. For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was. At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic-- capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim-- he favored suburban couples-- he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening."--Amazon.com.

Pelisek, Christine, author.

"In 2008, Christine Pelisek broke the story of a terrifying serial killer who went unchecked in Los Angeles for decades, killing the most vulnerable women in one South Central neighborhood. In her cover article for LA Weekly, Christine dubbed him 'The Grim Sleeper' for his long break between murders. The killer preyed on a community devastated by crime and drugs and left behind a trail of bodies--all women of color, all murdered in a similar fashion, and all discarded in the alleys of Los Angeles"--Amazon.com.

Stallworth, Ron, author.

The true story of Detective Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, who in 1978 went undercover to investigate the KKK.

Summerscale, Kate, 1965-

Traces the 1860 murder of a young child whose death launched a national obsession with detection throughout England, nearly destroyed the career of a top Scotland Yard investigator, and inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

Toobin, Jeffrey, author.

Examines the life of Patty Hearst who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors' crusade.

Tyson, Timothy B., author.

"The event that launched the civil rights movement--the 1955 lynching of young Emmett Till--now reexamined by an award-winning author with access to never-before-heard accounts from those involved as well as recently recovered court transcripts from the trial,"--NoveList.

Summaries provided by DPL's catalog unless otherwise noted. Click on each title to view more information.