The 6 Best Books About Serial Killers You Should Read

Serial killers have long been a source of fascination for many true crime enthusiasts. Their motives, methods, and the terror they inflict on society captures our attention and makes us question the depths of human nature. In this article, we’ve put together a list of ten of the best books about serial killers that provide an in-depth look into their minds, their stories, and the investigations that brought them to justice.

The 6 Best Books About Serial Killers You Should Read

Understanding the Mind of a Serial Killer

Serial killers are one of the most terrifying and fascinating subjects in the world of criminology. What drives a person to commit such heinous acts of violence, often with no apparent motive? These books delve into the psychology behind serial killers, exploring the factors that contribute to their actions and the driving forces behind their violent crimes.

While each serial killer is unique, there are often common psychological traits that can help explain their behavior. These books examine the various psychological aspects of serial killers, from their childhood experiences to their adult relationships and beyond. By studying these profiles, we can gain a deeper understanding of the mind of a serial killer and perhaps even prevent similar crimes from occurring in the future.

The Psychological Aspects of Serial Killers

Serial killers are often the subject of intense scrutiny from psychologists and criminal profilers alike. Studying their psychological profiles can shed light on the reasons behind their violent actions, while also helping law enforcement and the public understand how to prevent and solve similar cases in the future. Richly informative and impeccably researched, these books provide valuable insights into the darkest corners of the minds of serial killers.

One of the most fascinating aspects of serial killers is their ability to blend in with society. Many are highly intelligent and charismatic, able to charm their way into the lives of their victims. These books explore the ways in which serial killers are able to manipulate those around them, often using their charm and wit to gain the trust of their victims before ultimately taking their lives.

Another important psychological aspect of serial killers is their need for control. Many serial killers feel powerless in their everyday lives, and the act of taking another person’s life gives them a sense of power and control that they crave. By examining this need for control, we can gain a deeper understanding of the motivations behind their crimes.

The Role of Childhood Trauma in Serial Killers

For many serial killers, a disturbing and abusive childhood can be a pivotal factor in the development of their criminal inclinations. An examination of these early experiences can often provide a key to understanding the psyche of a serial killer, as well as helping to identify predictive factors that could potentially steer someone down this dark path. These books delve into the tormented histories of various notorious serial killers, offering a harrowing yet enlightening view of their formative years.

Childhood trauma can take many forms, from physical and sexual abuse to neglect and abandonment. These experiences can have a profound impact on a child’s developing brain, leading to a range of psychological issues that can persist into adulthood. In some cases, this trauma can lead to violent behavior and a disregard for the lives of others.

By examining the childhood experiences of serial killers, we can gain a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to their violent behavior. This knowledge can be used to identify at-risk individuals and provide them with the support and resources they need to avoid a life of violence and crime.

In conclusion, these books offer a fascinating and informative look at the psychology behind serial killers. By examining their psychological profiles and childhood experiences, we can gain a deeper understanding of the motivations behind their crimes and potentially prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

True Crime Classics

True crime books have always been fascinating to readers, providing an insight into the darkest corners of human behavior. These books have stood the test of time and are considered quintessential works in the true crime genre, offering an unparalleled examination of some of the most notorious serial killers in history.

If you are a fan of true crime books, you must have read “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote. Considered one of the first nonfiction novels, “In Cold Blood” details the brutal 1959 murder of the Clutter family in Kansas by Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith. Capote immersed himself in the aftermath of the crime, conducting extensive interviews and meticulously researching every aspect of the story. The result is a chilling and gripping portrait of the killers and the horrors they perpetuated. This classic work remains a must-read for any true crime aficionado.

Another must-read true crime book is “The Stranger Beside Me” by Ann Rule. In a shocking twist of fate, successful true crime author Ann Rule found herself working alongside one of the most notorious serial killers in American history: Ted Bundy. At the time, Rule knew him only as a charming coworker and talented law student. Her chilling account of Bundy’s brutal killings and ultimate capture is expertly woven with her personal experiences and observations of the charming manipulator. This unique perspective on one of history’s most infamous killers sets “The Stranger Beside Me” apart as a true crime classic.

However, there are many other true crime classics that are worth reading. “Helter Skelter” by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry is a chilling account of the Manson family murders and the subsequent trial. “The Executioner’s Song” by Norman Mailer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning true crime novel that explores the life and crimes of Gary Gilmore, a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death by firing squad.

True crime books not only provide a glimpse into the minds of some of the most notorious killers in history but also shed light on the flaws in the justice system and the impact of crime on victims and their families. These books are not for the faint-hearted, but for those who are interested in the darker side of human behavior, they offer a fascinating and often disturbing read.

In-Depth Investigations

These books, written by expert investigators and journalists, delve deeply into the horrifying crimes of terrifying serial killers, providing readers with an immersive look into their chilling worlds. If you’re a true crime enthusiast, these books are a must-read.

Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

John Douglas, a former FBI special agent and pioneer in criminal profiling, recounts his experiences tracking down some of the most vicious and elusive serial killers of our time. Alongside journalist Mark Olshaker, Douglas shares insights into the behavioral patterns, methods, and motives of infamous killers. This book not only offers a detailed analysis of the inner workings of the FBI’s elite profiling unit but also serves as the inspiration for the hit Netflix series.

Readers will be fascinated by the stories of some of the most notorious killers in history, including Edmund Kemper, who murdered his own mother, and Ted Bundy, who was known for his charm and good looks. Douglas’s firsthand accounts of interviewing these killers are both chilling and enlightening. He also provides a glimpse into the psychological toll that comes with investigating such heinous crimes.

You can find this book here.

The Night Stalker by Philip Carlo

The Night Stalker: The Disturbing Life and Chilling Crimes of Richard Ramirez

Philip Carlo delves into the depravity of Richard Ramirez, a vicious serial killer who terrorized California residents during the mid-1980s. Known as the “Night Stalker,” Ramirez’s murderous rampage left numerous victims in its wake before his eventual capture. Carlo provides a detailed account of the investigation, the gruesome crimes, and the trial that thrust Ramirez into the public eye.

Carlo’s writing style is both engaging and informative, and readers will feel as if they are right alongside the investigators as they piece together the evidence. The Night Stalker is a haunting and intimate portrait of a deranged killer, and serves as a chilling reminder of the real-life nightmares lurking in the shadows.

Overall, these books offer a fascinating look into the minds of some of the most notorious serial killers in history. While the subject matter is undoubtedly disturbing, the authors handle it with sensitivity and respect for the victims and their families. If you’re a fan of true crime, you won’t want to miss these gripping and insightful reads.

You can find this book here.

Female Serial Killers

While the majority of serial killers are male, female serial killers have also left their mark on history. These books focus on their unique motives, methods, and the challenges involved in bringing them to justice.

Lady Killers by Tori Telfer

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

Tori Telfer brings to light some of history’s most notorious female killers. From ancient Rome to modern times, “Lady Killers” profiles a wide variety of women who wreaked havoc and claimed numerous victims. The book delves into their crimes while also examining societal expectations and the biases that often allow them to escape detection for longer. With compelling storytelling and thorough research, Telfer sheds new light on some of the most deadly women in history.

The Devil’s Rooming House by M. William Phelps

Devil's Rooming House: The True Story of America's Deadliest Female Serial Killer

Known as the “Arsenic Widow” and one of America’s deadliest female serial killers, Amy Archer-Gilligan wreaked havoc in early 20th-century Connecticut. She specialized in killing her elderly boarders, often under the guise of providing them with care and comfort. In this gripping account, M. William Phelps expertly weaves a tale of murder, greed, and deception in small-town America. “The Devil’s Rooming House” is a chilling exploration of a female serial killer’s desire for power and control.

You can find this book here.

International Perspectives

Serial killers are not limited to the United States, and these books provide a unique perspective on international killers, their crimes, and the investigations that led to their downfall.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

The Monster of Florence

Co-authored by an American journalist and an Italian crime reporter, “The Monster of Florence” focuses on the decades-long search for the unidentified serial killer who terrorized the Florence countryside. With stunning detail and captivating storytelling, Preston and Spezi recount their own investigations into the case, and the various controversial theories and tactics employed by law enforcement. This international bestseller offers a fascinating and disturbing look at a case that still remains unsolved.

You can find this book here.

The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

Set in 19th-century France, “The Killer of Little Shepherds” details the gruesome murders committed by Joseph Vacher, a French serial killer who claimed at least 11 victims. The book also tells the story of two pioneering forensic scientists, Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne and Emile Fourquet, who used groundbreaking techniques to track him down. This riveting tale combines the chilling details of Vacher’s crimes with a fascinating look at the early development of forensic science.

In conclusion, if you are looking to delve deeper into the disturbing world of serial killers, these ten books offer a wealth of knowledge, perspective, and chilling accounts that will leave you enthralled and informed. Each book provides a unique view into the minds of these ruthless killers, the terrifying impact they’ve had on their victims, and the tireless efforts of those committed to bringing them to justice.


Are all serial killer books true crime?

No, many crime thrillers feature investigations following a fictional serial killer. However, many fans of this genre enjoy reading about real serial killers because it accentuates the shock factor and brings the story to life.

What are some good examples of books about serial killers?

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Zodiac by Robert Graysmith, and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

What is a classic book about a serial killer?

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is a true crime novel that is now known as a classic.

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Eddison Monroe
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