Serial killers have a certain appeal that we can’t shake off. It’s the promise of suspense, danger, and adrenaline that keeps us wanting more. In part, this is due to the element of tension that catches us just like a net from which we can’t and won’t break free until the book reaches its end. On the other side, it’s the promise of a great story.
With so many options out there, finding the best serial killer books can become a challenge. Because we know that you don’t want to waste your time with a mediocre story, we’ve put together a list of the best novels that will feed your appetite for gore and suspense.
Things to Consider When Looking for Serial Killer Books
What makes a good serial killer book? Here are some of the things you should take into consideration:
- The Suspense. A good serial killer book should keep you alert and always wondering what comes next. With each page you turn, you should feel an adrenaline rush pumping through your veins but also the urge to learn how the story ends.
- The Intrigue. As the game of cat and mouse turns into a chase, we crave to find out as many details as possible. And, the fact that some stories are based on true events makes us even more aware of the danger.
- The Characters. The victims, the detectives, the spectators, are all elements that can make a good story. We may find ourselves growing fond of the victim, or observing details that enhance the appeal of the story.
- The Killer. Tapping into the psychology of the killer, finding out why he does what he does, how he’d come to be this way or how he manages to elude the police, are details that we’ll keep you glued to the book.
Top 10 Serial Killer Books Comparison Table
|1. Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer by Ann McElhinney||Based on a true story||$$||4.8|
|2. Last Breath: A gripping serial killer thriller that will have you hooked by Robert Bryndza||Fiction||$$||4.7|
|3. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi||Based on a true story||$$||4.6|
|4. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule||Based on a true story||$$$||4.4|
|5. Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit||Real cases presented as they happened||$||4.4|
|6. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America||Based on a true story||$$||4.3|
|7. Afraid by Jack Kilborn||Fiction||$$$$||4.3|
|8. The Deadly Dozen: America's 12 Worst Serial Killers||Real cases presented as they happened||$||4.1|
|9. The Killing League: A Thriller by Dani Amore||Fiction||$||4.0|
|10. The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success||The psychology of serial killers||$$$||4.0|
How to Find Captivating Serial Killer Books
Serial killer fiction is a popular genre, with numerous novels published every year. It can be difficult to sort the good from the bad. Pay attention to the tips below if you want to find the best serial killer books.
- Decide If You Want a Book Based on True Event. If you want to learn the details of a horrific case or understand the motivation behind a serial killer’s action, then a novel based on a true story might be the right choice for you. The life story of Ted Bundy, Carl Panzram, Jeffrey Dahmer or H.H. Holmes will keep you on your toes.
- Novel vs. Series. If you like to delve into a complex story that keeps you on your toes from beginning to end and puts your mind to work, then you should choose a series. If you just want a captivating story that can satisfy your appetite for crime and suspense, then a novel should do just fine.
- Single vs. Multiple Killers. An anthology, for example, can present several cases from just one killer, or tap into the minds of multiple serial killers at once. Keep in mind that this type of book will give you some creepy and authentic details, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
Top 3 Best Serial Killer Books Reviews
“Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer” is the overall highest rated serial killer book at the moment.
This book will terrify you to the core, and not just because it describes the story of a real serial killer and his victims, but also because no one expected that a respectable pillar of the community to commit such horrific acts.
Kermit Gosnell pretended all his life to be an advocate for women’s reproductive health. He even ran a clinic that offered medical help to women in need. Behind the profile of a saint was a demon as Gosnell used the center to butcher and kill infants and women.
What makes this story even more captivating is that Gosnell didn’t work alone, but helped by accomplices and covered by the police. The detective that ultimately investigated and caught Gosnell was Jim Wood.
All in all, if you are looking for a story that will keep you on edge, then “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer” is one of the best serial killer books you can read.
If you were looking for a gripping novel that will keep you awake, then this is it. Erika Foster is the detective that tries to connect and solve a case that leaves in its path a line of tortured, dead, young women.
The killer is an intelligent man who uses a fake identity to prey on young, beautiful women. To make things worse, this isn’t Erika’s case, so she has a difficult time getting the information she needs.
Still, the detective ends up facing the sadistic and terrifying serial killer, all while struggling to save another girl from her imminent death.
Overall, “Last Breath: A Detective Erik Foster Novel” is a great novel that you will want to devour in just one sitting.
With over seven million copies sold and listed as the number one Crime Bestseller of All Times, this book describes a series of random and brutal crimes that held the front page of newspapers in 1969.
The charismatic Charles Manson remains one of the most prolific killers of all times and his savagery, as well as his motivation, is still a mystery. Although the media turned the case into a myth, if you’re wondering what happened back then and how Mason succeeded in having so many followers, then this is the right bedtime story for you.