Brightside Booklist: 5 True Crime Books You’ve Never Heard Of
These are all considered classic go-tos in the true crime genre, but let’s expand our libraries here for a second, shall we? I’ve got nothing against these books (in fact, The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule is one of my favorites), but I LOVE finding books that aren’t as widely known. I started off with a list of 19, but I’ve whittled my list down to 5 of the best true crime books that you’ve never heard of. Enjoy!
This is the story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, a Princeton-educated Green Beret who was convicted of murdering his young, pregnant wife and their two children. The story is well-told, gripping and just weird. It starts with him claiming that some hippies killed them. AND THEN, even though his wife and daughters were clubbed to death and stabbed with ice picks, he miraculously survived!
Fun fact: Joe McGinniss was the youngest person, at age 26, to appear on the NYT bestseller list. Later in his career when he was a creative writing professor, Donna Tartt and Bret Easton Ellis were two of his students. (If you haven’t read The Goldfinch, drop everything and run to your nearest bookstore.)
I found this one at the bookstore and the cover was weird and it all looked sort of…..cheap. Anyway, I took a chance with my $8 and it turned out to be one of the best true crime books I had read in a long time. The story is about Lucie Blackman, a 21-year-old from England who goes missing in Japan in 2000. Several months later, her dismembered remains are found in a cave. What follows is a look at her life, the Japanese criminal justice system and Japanese culture, in general. Even if you don’t care *that* much about Japanese culture (I have no interest in going there, myself) you will be entranced by the Parry’s investigative journalism and the profound grief that Lucie’s family (particularly her father) feels as they are trying to cope with the criminal case and their devastating loss.
You guys, the wife in this book is CRAZY. Insane. Nuts. I don’t like to throw those words around, but OOF. From throwing millions into her “art” career (her art was terrible and embarrassing) to being obsessive about landscaping (making the landscaper plant, rip out and replant flowers over and over again) she was too much.
She was volatile, manipulative and, did I say, crazy?
I first followed this story when it was covered extensively in Vanity Fair and I was obsessed with it. Generosa and Ted Ammon were wealthy, socialite-types with homes on Fifth Avenue, the Hamptons and England with two (very unfortunate) children. Long story short, Generosa is jealous, Ted ends up dead and Danny Pelosi, Generosa’s blue collar, street-fighting electrician boyfriend (what?) is accused of Ted’s murder. It’s all so weird. You have to read it.
I am always surprised at how many people there are who have never heard of this book. If you are even the LEAST bit interested in forensics or forensic anthropology, this book should be at the top
of the reading list. William Maples was a well-known forensic anthropologist who was one of the investigators that verified the remains of the Romanovs. This man has studied just about every other dead body out there that has been cut, mangled, and/or strangled.
One of my favorite sections was when he was discussing suicide. He is probably the only one that could describe death by stabbing-your-own-head-into-a-knife-that-you’ve-placed-sticking-out-of-the-radiator-just-so in such an interesting and humane way. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth it if you can handle all of the gruesome details.
Zackery Bowen returned to New Orleans after serving for several years in the military. He rebuilt a haphazard life for himself and when the hurricane hit, he decided to stay put to battle it out. He was a hard-partying, drifter kind of guy and displayed the true spirit of New Orleans by staying behind. So what went wrong after he met his girlfriend, Addie? What caused him to kill her, creating one of the most gruesome crime scenes NOLA police had ever seen?
This book was written by a true investigative reporter who spent time in NOLA after the crime in order to absorb the story as much as he could. It’s a book about resilience, about two damaged souls dealing with addiction and how trauma can turn one’s life upside down.
I recently recommended this to a friend and she read it, loved it and gave it 5 stars. What else do you need to know?
I have A LOT more that I could add to this list, but I’ll hold back until later (I think my list of 52 book recommendations was a little lengthy for some people LOL). I’m always wanting more, so if YOU have any recommendations for books that I’ve never heard of, let’s hear them!
Disclaimer: If you buy any of the books that I’ve linked above from Amazon (do it!), I will get a little kickback, but it doesn’t jack up the price of the book.