Who needs fiction when reality tells such intriguing and gripping stories? These best true crime audiobooks will help you to learn about real cases, understand the minds of serial killers, and hone in on the often corrupt legal trials that follow.
There are so many true crime stories to delve into and all tell a different story. Some of these books are written in a documentary-like style, uncovering the story in hindsight, whereas others tell the story using a thriller-like tone and follow the events as they happen.
Using audiobooks is such a good way to consume true crime stories, as narrators often provide a sense of urgency and drama that can be missed out on paper. Listening to these stories can mimic watching a gripping documentary but books often provide additional dimensions of detail and intricacy, allowing you to absorb the stories in full, using immersive techniques.
True crime is one of the most popular book, film, and TV genres, so there are plenty of brilliant stories to choose from, but here are the 20 best true crime audiobooks in our opinion.
The Best True Crime Audiobooks
The Night Stalker by Philip Carlo
This brilliant story tells of the brutal and widespread crimes of Richard Ramirez, who killed 13 people through tortuous, inhumane means and created a sense of fear throughout California during the 1980s.
The Night Stalker dives into the mindset of a serial killer, tracing his sadistic behavior back to childhood. Today, Ramirez is known as one of America’s most prolific serial killers to date and his twisted killing methods are what make him one of the most well-documented criminals in history.
Manhunt by Peter Bleksley
Set in Liverpool, England, Manhunt traces the hunt for one of Britain’s most wanted murderers. 16-year-old Liam was lured away from home and shot dead and less than a year later Lucy, the mother of 3 children, was shot in her home.
Former Scotland Yard detective, Peter Bleksley, is determined to track Kevin Parle who is wanted for both killings.
Finding Tamika by Erika Alexander
24-year-old Black woman, Tamika Huston, vanished in 2004, leaving no trace behind. Her disappearance sparked a wider discussion of other women of color who have gone missing over the years.
Finding Tamika not only goes into depth about Tamika’s case but also highlights the inequality that lingers in the justice system that favors white victims over victims of color, especially women. Perfect for those who want insight into the corrupt justice system without the gruesome, gory details that come attached to many other true crimes.
Call Me God by Jim and Tim Clemente
In Maryland in 2002, Ann Chapman watched as darkness fell over her district. Over the following 23 days, random sniper attacks target innocent civilians, civilians who no longer feel safe in their own homes.
In a society still recovering from the fear that follows the 9/11 attack, Americans are plunged into a new realm of fear, one that feels a little more personal. Call Me God is written by the FBI agents who were directly involved. It provides a fascinating insight into the evidence and behavioral analysis that helped the investigation progress.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Devil in the White City is the true story of a clever serial killer who used the magical setting of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago as a means to attract his victims to their deaths.
Henry H. Holmes was a respected doctor, who used the architecture of the fair to create a torture site that included a gas chamber, a crematorium, and a dissection table.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
‘The Golden State Killer’ was a serial rapist who committed more than 50 sexual assaults in North Carolina before journeying south and killing an additional 10 victims.
Although this happened during the 1970s and ‘80s, the criminal disappeared, managing to escape several police forces along the way.
30 years later, Michelle McNamara, a true-crime journalist, took it upon herself to find the killer, collecting her own data and researching on several online platforms dedicated to solving unresolved mysteries. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the story generated from McNamara’s findings and offers insight into the killer’s psychology, the obsession that swept the nation, and the compelling truth behind these dark crimes.
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
This is tailored to YA audiences but is equally enjoyable to older readers too. This true story follows Richard and Sasha who met on the 57 bus. Sasha was a wealthy white girl with a bright future ahead and Richard was a black teenager who lived a happy life.
But when Sasha gets mistakenly burned in a mistake on the way home one day, Richard is charged with two hate crimes and is sentenced to life in prison.
The 57 Bus teaches about race, gender, and vulnerability, shedding light on the racism that exists in the justice system and illustrating how small mistakes can have devastating consequences.
We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper
We Keep the Dead Close begins in 1969, as Harvard merges with Radcliffe, its all-girls sister school. This is the same year that Jane Britton, the daughter of Radcliffe’s Vice President, was found bludgeoned to death in her apartment.
Becky Cooper investigates this death for herself over 40 years later, concluding that Jane’s death was the result of systemic gender inequality. This is a brilliant tale of violence, murder, and misogyny, shedding light on the female voices that were taken too soon.
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Catch and Kill is Farrow’s story of investigation, threat, and deceit. His tale begins in 2017, as one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, Harvey Weinstein, is highlighted as a potential predator.
Keen to take a closer look, Farrow delves deeper into the case, only to find layers of legal protection defending the producer and tens of people, paid off to keep quiet. This story is insightful, empowering, and eye-opening, a must-read for anyone interested in this high-profile case.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In Cold Blood is one of the most influential books of the 20th century and begins in 1959, in Kansas, as 4 people belonging to the Clutter family were brutally murdered via shotgun.
Truman Capote recounts this compelling, violent story through a new perspective, and documents the events like a thriller, covering the murder, trial, and execution of these twisted criminals.
Mindhunter by John E. Douglas
If you’re into criminal psychology, this is the perfect book for you. Mindhunter is the fascinating account of John E. Douglas’s career working for the FBI in the Investigative Support Unit, in which he delved into the minds of several brutal serial killers.
Douglas has dealt with some of the most notorious criminals in history, including Ted Bundy and Ed Gein, who used the skin of his victims as clothing. Douglas takes you through each crime scene in gripping detail and unveils the psychology behind some of these atrocities.
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
In 1989, Ted Bundy was executed for the brutal murder of 3 girls but also confessed to murdering 35 additional women across the country.
Ann Rule was in contact with Bundy throughout his entire trial and maintained an interesting relationship with him. The Stranger Beside Me tells the story of his inhuman crimes through the lens of a compelling new perspective
Agent Sonya by Ben Macintyre
Agent Sonya tells the intriguing story of Ursula Burton who lived a quiet life with her husband in the English countryside in 1942. But what her neighbors didn’t know was that Ursula was a top-secret Soviet spy who was dedicated to communism.
This is the captivating story of how Ursula outran the powerful organizations who came looking for her – MI6, MI5, the FBI, the Nazis, the Japanese, and the Chinese to name a few. She was one of the most successful spies that helped the Soviets gather intelligence and scientific knowledge that helped them create powerful bombs.
The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn
The Road to Jonestown tells the complete story of Jim Jones, who was a minister in Indianapolis in the 1950s. His sermons were unusual but racially progressive, maintaining an integrated congregation.
He was the person that would become responsible for the largest murder-suicide in American history – the Jonestown massacre. But the story is a whole lot bigger than that. Guinn dives into his questionable choices, drug use, affairs, and psychological state.
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
Mary-Jane, Polly, Elizabeth, Annie, and Catherine were all murdered in 1888 by the same person. The Five dives into the action on Fleet Street in London and unties some of the myths that surround one of England’s most famous serial killers, Jack the Ripper.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
In the 1920s, the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma was made up of some of the wealthiest people in the country thanks to the accessibility of oil.
Killers of the Flower Moon follow this group as, one by one, they are murdered. As more and more bodies were found, the FBI got involved and so began a whirlwind of an investigation.
Last Call by Elon Green
New York City in the 1990s and ‘80s was one of the most sought-after places to be thanks to many series and films that romanticized pre-millennial city life. But Last Call investigates the city’s dark underbelly, following an endearing musician who preys on the gay community.
This story delicately pieces together each victim and their circumstance, reconstructing the investigation that was overshadowed by prejudice towards the community and the AIDS epidemic.
Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth
Black Klansman follows the fascinating story of a black man who managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s.
Working with a white colleague, the two go undercover and try to sabotage the organization from the inside. This is one of the most compelling stories on this list and sheds light on the monstrous nature of the white organization.
The Crime of the Century by Dennis L. Breo and William J. Martin
On one summer day, in 1966, Richard Franklin Speck rampaged his way through one Chicago townhouse, killing 8 nurses through violent and sexual means.
One nurse, Corazon Amurao, survived the attack and identified the killer in court years later, but he was not given an execution sentence and instead confessed just before his death. The Crime of the Century is told by two of the figures involved in the case.
I Will Find You by Detective Lieutenant Joe Kenda
I Will Find You will get your heart racing as Kenda talks you through some of the darkest cases he’s ever dealt with as a homicide detective. He investigated 387 murders during his service and is finally airing the gory details of the cases he solved and the intriguing clues of the ones he is yet to complete.
This story is narrated by Kenda himself, which adds to the gripping nature of the book – this is an absolute must-read!
Any of these audiobooks will educate, enthrall, and captivate. They tell some of the most shocking stories, sometimes from the perspective of the victim or those involved in the case. If you’re looking for the gripping and twisted elements frequently found in psychological or crime thrillers, these are the audiobooks for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are true crime books?
True crime books follow the crimes and cases of real killers, rapists, thieves, etc. These stories are frequently told in hindsight or from the perspectives of those involved in the case.
Why are true crime books so popular?
People love reading true crime because it offers the same shock factor as most fictional thrillers but intrigue is peaked by the fact that these things actually happened.
What is the most popular true crime book?
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote has become a modern classic.
What’s the difference between a true crime audiobook and a true crime podcast?
There are many true crime podcasts out there either dedicated to one case or one serial killer or covering a multitude of different cases. True crime audiobooks are real books written by victims or members of the police or legal team that experienced these crimes first-hand. While podcasts are fun to listen to, most offer a more discussion-oriented covering of cases.
Who is the most notorious serial killer in history?
There isn’t one that particularly stands out, however, names like Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Pedro Lopez, and Harold Shipman come to mind.