'My Favorite Murder' Podcast Hosts Share Their Favorite True-Crime Reads

Posted by Cybil on April 1, 2019
Goodreads Mystery & Thriller Week 2019

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the cohosts of the wildly popular true-crime podcast My Favorite Murder. This spring they'll also become published coauthors with their memoir Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide. Here they share their favorite true-crime reading for all you Murderinos out there.



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Goodreads: What drew you to the genre of true crime?

Karen Kilgariff: When I was a kid, I always felt like the adults were keeping all the interesting, juicy stuff a secret from me. The first true-crime book I ever read was like graduating into the world of adults, where suddenly I was finding out how horrible everything really was. I loved it.

Georgia Hardstark: Morbid curiosity and acute anxiety.

Goodreads: What makes a great true-crime book?

KK: I think the key is a strong beginning that hooks you in so you have to know what happens next. I like clean, simple writing that tells a human story without being too clinical or too pious. I just read an advanced copy of American Predator by Maureen Callahan about the serial killer Israel Keyes, and it was exactly like that. I finished it in three days. It was just perfect.

GH: I love when you can tell the author is the kind of person who can’t stop talking to their friends and family about the crime they’re obsessed with, to a point where those friends and family, who aren’t as into true crime, have asked them to stop sharing the details with them and just write a book already. The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara are great examples of this.

Check out Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark's favorite true-crime books:

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Which of these true-crime books would you recommend? Tell us in the comments!

Check out the complete coverage of Mystery & Thriller Week:
Spring's Most Anticipated Mysteries & Thrillers
Top 100 Mysteries & Thrillers on Goodreads
The Best Mystery & Thriller Adaptations Since Gone Girl


Comments Showing 1-42 of 42 (42 new)

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message 1: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Where's the pioneers and best the genre has to offer, In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter?


message 2: by Carrie-Anne (new)

Carrie-Anne This is the best true crime book I've ever read, because it actually cares about the victims. The media gives fame and celebrity to the perpetrators, but the people who were affected are far faaarrr more important, and we need to remember that.

One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway


message 3: by J (new)

J The one that comes to mind for me is Devil in the White City. I suppose there is a distinction to be made between True Crime as non-fiction or True Crime as a novel. In Cold Blood is also a good example.


message 4: by Bethany (new)

Bethany Jones I thought the same thing! Tanya wrote: "Where's the pioneers and best the genre has to offer, In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter?"


Mayke (acozyliving)☕️ Definitely misses Helter Skelter!


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy 'Your favorite' and 'Most important to the genre' are often different things - plus they talk about Helter Skelter so much on the podcast that it doesn't surprise me they didn't put it on this list.


message 7: by Moreen (new)

Moreen Murray I agree with Devil in the White City..one of the best. I highly recommend "Killers of the Flower Moon" A fascinating examination of the mysterious deaths of wealthy Osage Indians and the creation of the FBI


message 8: by Lynda (new)

Lynda Kelly The first true crime book I read was Someone's Husband, Someone's Son by Gordon Burn and it was all about the Yorkshire Ripper.
I enjoyed Columbine by Dave Cullen and Evil Relations by Carol Ann Lee but my biggest favourite was The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer. Also most of Ann Rule's books are on my bookcase.
Yet I hated In Cold Blood......
Carol Ann Lee just released a book called Somebody's Mother, Somebody's Daughter about the Yorkshire Ripper's victims, which is a clever take on the Burns' title.


message 9: by Brianna (new)

Brianna No Stone Unturned by Steve Jackson is incredible. I learned more from this book than any other true crime read. It goes through different murders and goes into detail about the mistakes made while investigating, other victims etc. Probably going to read again


message 10: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Carrie-Anne wrote: "This is the best true crime book I've ever read, because it actually cares about the victims. The media gives fame and celebrity to the perpetrators, but the people who were affected are far faaarr..."

Thanks for the suggestion! I've been interested in this one since they covered it on MFM.


message 11: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Lost Girls is one of my all-time favorite books so happy to see it make the list. I also thought People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman was incredible not just for the true crime stuff but also for the dive into Japanese culture.


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara All of Ann Rule's books are at the top of my True Crime books read.


message 13: by Derek (new)

Derek Keeling If you want something new to read, look no further than Nomad's Island. A novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat with twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Nomad's Island will whisk you away to a ruthless place where life struggles to survive and eyes taunt you from the jungle's edge.


message 14: by layne neddow (new)

layne neddow The Boston strangled was my first. Ann rule is the best!!!


message 15: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Rosen BAD BLOOD is not a mystery. It is nonfiction, a true story of a very expensive con.


message 16: by Charu (new)

Charu Gupta No list of books belonging to 'true crime' genre can be complete without Helter Skelter.


message 17: by Soenam (new)

Soenam I am so unfortunate. I live in one of the most remote part of the world where its really hard to get a hand on good books. Our book stores sell books which have been published many years back, still I enjoy them. I really hope I could get some new books to read.


message 18: by Sherry (new)

Sherry I just finished ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger..... WONDERFULl!!!
I’d recommend it to those who haven’t discovered it yet! S A Burton


message 19: by Lynda (new)

Lynda Kelly I just looked that up, Sherry, but I realised it wasn't a true-crime tale !! What a shame !


message 20: by Eric (new)

Eric One of Us by Asne Seierstad or Columbine by Dave Cullen need to be on this list


message 21: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Bakken I am so glad they aren't just listing the same old books everyone has read already like Helter Skelter. I want more obscure stories that are new to me!


message 22: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Villisca is my favorite locked-room mystery, creepy as that sounds. I want to know what happened and yet I don’t because the answer can’t possibly be as fascinating as what I have imagined. The book isn’t great, but it is interesting and provides a decent background.


message 23: by Chantal (new)

Chantal Tanya wrote: "Where's the pioneers and best the genre has to offer, In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter?"
Was thinking the same thing!


message 24: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Piper Morgan wrote: "Lost Girls is one of my all-time favorite books so happy to see it make the list. I also thought People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman was incredible not just for the true crime stuff..."

This is my ultimate "favorite" true crime book — such a good exploration into the culture and this murder, told so well.


message 25: by Sophie (new)

Sophie In Cold Blood is a must read classic!
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
Devil in the White City
Helter Skelter is a bit more pulp fiction, but still needs to be included.


message 26: by Mark (new)

Mark Sardella Morgan wrote: "Lost Girls is one of my all-time favorite books so happy to see it make the list. I also thought People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman was incredible not just for the true crime stuff..."

Those are also two of my all-time favorites.


message 27: by Kate (new)

Kate J wrote: "The one that comes to mind for me is Devil in the White City. I suppose there is a distinction to be made between True Crime as non-fiction or True Crime as a novel. In Cold Blood is also a good ex..."
Totally agree. It was an excellent book about a subject I had never heard of before but have read a lot about since. Also it was fascinating to read about the 'White City' itself.


message 28: by Kate (last edited Apr 03, 2019 08:39PM) (new)

Kate Katherine wrote: "Villisca is my favorite locked-room mystery, creepy as that sounds. I want to know what happened and yet I don’t because the answer can’t possibly be as fascinating as what I have imagined. The boo..."
It you go to Youtube there is a hour long documentary on those murders. I had just read The Man on the Train and again had never heard of it before so saw this video. It is a fascinating case. This little town murders from way back when are so interesting because you know that probably a lot of people knew who the killers were but kept their mouths shut. The link for the video is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNCcs...


message 29: by MD (new)

MD Soenam wrote: "I am so unfortunate. I live in one of the most remote part of the world where its really hard to get a hand on good books. Our book stores sell books which have been published many years back, stil..."

You can purchase used books from BetterWorldBooks. It's cheap, ships internationally usually no shipping fee


message 30: by Andrea (last edited Apr 04, 2019 08:10AM) (new)

Andrea I had such a bad taste in my mouth after finishing reading The Stranger Beside Me. I guess it's a perfect illustration of a person under Bundy's spell and in itself is an interesting thing to witness, but Ann's constant excuses for the man all while describing the horrific things he's done to these women are just sickening.

I'm happy they mention Poisoner's Handbook - a fantastic read!


message 31: by Mike (new)

Mike Johnson My personal favorite True Crime author was the late great Jack Olsen, his books Doc, "I" and Son are particularly unforgettable portraits of depraved psychopaths. Fairly well regarded as a writer in a not particularly esteemed genre back in the day, he is sadly now all but forgotten. A worthy writer ripe for rediscovery.


message 32: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Tanya wrote: "Where's the pioneers and best the genre has to offer, In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter?"

Agree!


message 33: by bucky (new)

bucky i remember learning about chloroform through the poisoner's handbook when i was about 12 and being utterly fascinated by how many times it cropped up in shows i watched like criminal minds - maybe that was the birth of my true crime interest, lol


message 34: by Michele (last edited Apr 04, 2019 02:04PM) (new)

Michele Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI --- loved this one


message 35: by Rosa (new)

Rosa The adversary, by Emmanuel Carrère and Kidnap. The shocking story of the Lindbergh case, by George Waller.


message 36: by Janice (new)

Janice Smith I'm a huge fan of true crime compilations and behind-the-scenes first-person procedurals. A few of my favorites are Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Connie Fletcher, What the Corpse Revealed by Hugh Miller and...one from my local library whose title I've forgotten because I'm a dork like that. I'm currently reading Famous Crimes the World Forgot by Jason Lucky Morrow, and it's turning out to be rather good, as well. Oddly, I am not a fan of Ann Rule.


message 37: by Michele (new)

Michele For those of you who loved the Poisoner's Handbook:

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
and
Poison: Sinister Species with Deadly Consequences

are both good readig.


message 38: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Carrie-Anne wrote: "This is the best true crime book I've ever read, because it actually cares about the victims. The media gives fame and celebrity to the perpetrators, but the people who were affected are far faaarr..."
Absolutely, I agree.


message 39: by Kelli (new)


message 40: by Leslie (new)

Leslie I would add Midnight in Peking to any true crime list!


message 41: by Logene McHale (new)

Logene McHale Can't open the app. said my email does not exist


message 42: by Lynda (new)

Lynda Kelly Prior comment has been flagged.


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