Criminal justice is a serious matter for those working on the ground. For the general public, however, it arouses great morbid curiosity. Many popular books have been pulled straight from the nation’s creepiest headlines, revealing a glimpse of what it takes to solve a gruesome crime. Consider these 10 popular criminal justice novels:
1. Bestial – The Savage Trail of a True American Monster – This 1998 nonfiction novel by Harold Schechter details the crimes of Earle Leonard Nelson, one of North America’s first serial killers.
2. Blind eye – The terrifying story of a doctor who got away with murder – Former attorney James B. Stewart explains how Michael Swango had his way and poisoned 60 of his patients before being caught.
3. Crime and science – The New Frontier in Criminology – This book, written by Jurgen Thorwald, was inspired by real accounts from the field, revealing valuable forensic science and crime-fighting methodologies.
4. Distributor of doctors – The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire – This book is about an Ivy League-educated dentist who managed to build a vast cocaine trafficking operation. Mark Bowden, known for “Black Hawk Down,” published the book in 2000.
5. Donnie Brasco – My Undercover Life in the Mob – Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Wooley wrote this true crime novel about Pistone’s six years as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the Bonanno crime family in New York. The book was made into a movie starring Johnny Depp.
6. Helter Skelter – This true crime novel by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry details the gruesome Tate-LaBianca murders committed by Charles Manson and his followers. 7. Homicide: A Year on the Killer Streets – As a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, David Simon was able to follow a group of homicide detectives in one of America’s most murderous cities for an entire year to write this book.
8. In cold blood – This classic non-fiction account by Truman Capote details the 1959 murders of an innocent farming family in rural Kansas. Capote took an unusual journalistic approach, following the inner lives of the two men who committed the gruesome crime.
9. The devil in the white city – Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America – Erik Larson details one of America’s first serial killers, HH Holmes, who owned a hotel during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
10. Wiseguy – As a crime reporter, Nicholas Pileggi had first-hand access to the fascinating lives of former mobster Henry Hill and the Luchese crime family, allowing him to build this fascinating story.