True crime podcasts, documentaries, and books aren’t difficult to come across—in fact, quite the opposite. There’s so much content that touches on the genre these days that it’s difficult to know where to start. Readers seeking non-fiction can whittle down their options by choosing which cases they’d like to explore. But how does one locate fiction books that cater to true crime lovers?
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. These eight thrillers are perfect for fans of the genre—and many of them even touch on the specifics of its rising popularity.
Heather Gudenkauf’s The Overnight Guest is told via three different narratives, and one follows a true crime expert who writes books chronicling horrific real-life events. Wylie Lark has retreated to a remote farmhouse to work on her latest project. And in the midst of a snowstorm, she finds herself hosting an unexpected visitor.
Trapped inside with a child who’s clearly hiding something, Wylie gets wrapped up in a nightmarish scenario much like the ones she writes about. More bizarre still, it may be connected to a triple homicide and kidnapping that took place years earlier. That tragedy balances the novel’s present-day storyline, presenting readers with two mysteries they’ll be eager to solve.
The truths that surface as they come together aren’t easy to stomach. However, they’ll keep readers flipping the pages—much like hitting play on the next episode of a podcast or documentary.
Like The Overnight Guest, The Book of Cold Cases follows the perspective of a true crime lover—this time, one who runs her own blog.
When receptionist Shea Collins has a run-in with Beth Greer, she can’t help but pursue an interview. After all, Beth once found herself at the center of an investigation that shook their hometown to its core: the Lady Killer murders.
Beth was acquitted of the heinous crimes, but most people living in Claire Lake, Oregon still believe she’s guilty. When Shea sets out to uncover the truth, she finds way more than she bargained for. Her journey won’t just appeal to true crime lovers but to horror aficionados across the board. Shea’s investigation is full of twists and turns. Some are reminiscent of your favorite true crime series, while others feel more like a scary story brought to life.
True crime documentaries and podcasts have drawn attention to murder cases in real life, and The Night Swim by Megan Goldin explores that phenomenon in depth. The novel sees podcaster Rachel Krall covering a rape trial in the town of Neapolis. During her travels, she receives an anonymous note asking for her help on another case: a drowning that occurred more than two decades ago.
The message insists the victim of said drowning was actually murdered, and it begs Rachel to investigate. When she does, she finds surprising connections between the two incidents. As her narrative unfolds, it underscores how publicity can shape such cases. It also offers some commentary on how frequently women are targeted, as well as the struggles they often face getting justice.
Readers looking for something similar to The Night Swim——albeit aimed at a younger audience—should add Courtney Summers’ Sadie to their reading list. The story follows West McCray, a radio personality who sets out in search of a missing girl named Sadie. Sadie disappeared after her sister died, hellbent on finding the person responsible.
Now, West is tracking Sadie using whatever clues she’s left behind. True to his calling, he even starts a podcast. Thus begins one investigation that builds on top of another. And readers will be desperate to find out what happened to both Sadie and her sister as Sadie’s two narratives unfold. Courtney Summers’ YA thriller keeps the suspense coming while offering readers a surprisingly emotional story. It’s one that sticks with you long after flying through the novel.
True crime podcasters typically investigate murders and disappearances, but what happens when one goes missing? That’s the premise of Eliza Jane Brazier’s If I Disappear, which kicks off when a podcaster named Rachel vanishes. Sera, an avid listener, knows how these situations tend to go down. So, she sets out to find her favorite podcast personality on her own.
However, Rachel’s investigations haven’t fully prepared Sera to find herself in the midst of one of her own. As she comes to the conclusion that other missing women may be tied to Rachel’s case, she realizes she’s also in danger. Her attempt to leverage her knowledge of true crime to solve a real missing person’s case proves a thrilling ride. It’s one that readers aren’t likely to forget.
Megan Collins’ The Family Plot doesn’t just follow fans of true crime, but a family obsessed with it to the point where they cut themselves off from the rest of the world.
Dahlia and her siblings were raised in an environment that exposed them to chilling scenarios early on. And even after getting out, Dahlia finds it difficult to leave her strange childhood behind. Her twin brother’s disappearance hasn’t helped in that endeavor. And when the family gathers years later to bury her father, they finally find her brother’s body.
His remains raise uncomfortable questions about what happened to him. As Dahlia’s family processes, she sets out to uncover the truth behind Andy’s death. Her investigation renders everyone a suspect, sparking conversations about how Dahlia and her siblings’ upbringing affected them. The Family Plot creates a disturbing and difficult-to-solve mystery while also tackling the recent true crime craze. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a unique thriller, to say the least.
Unlike many of the other titles on this list, Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders doesn’t feature a true crime lover as its main character. However, its premise will surely appeal to those intrigued by unique crimes. In this novel, the killer is following a specific blueprint—one laid out in classic mystery novels.
Years ago, bookseller Malcolm Kershaw penned a blog post listing “perfect” murders in fiction. The killer in Swanson’s story has taken those scenarios and begun enacting them in real life. In doing so, they seem to be sending Malcolm a message. And he’s got a few secrets of his own to hide—a troublesome prospect when the FBI comes knocking.
As Malcolm attempts to find out who’s trying to reach him and why, Eight Perfect Murders delivers numerous exciting twists and turns. And watching them play out will no doubt feel like listening to a podcast, even if this batch of killings is based in fiction.
Everyone has different reasons for exploring the true crime genre, and some readers are more interested in digging into a murderer’s mind. That’s why documentaries about famous serial killers draw so much attention. And those intrigued by such deep dives will likely enjoy Sascha Rothchild’s debut Blood Sugar. This thriller is told from the perspective of a killer, and it makes for a deeply unsettling read.
Blood Sugar follows the story of Ruby, a woman who’s been accused of murdering her husband. She isn’t actually responsible for his death—but, unbeknownst to the authorities, she has taken three other lives. Ruby’s gotten away with her crimes until now, but her husband’s death threatens to blow her past wide open.
An indictment of the criminal justice system, Blood Sugar paints a uniquely balanced picture of a murderer. In fact, it proves even those who seem put together and kind can be hiding much darker secrets. And isn’t that a point true crime stories highlight over and over.
Amanda Mullen is a pop culture writer who can usually be found juggling her never-ending Netflix queue with the pile of books she needs to read. You can find her gushing about all things entertainment @peaksandpages on Twitter.