Skip to main content

A true crime podcast host reveals their favourite books of 2023

A 'true crime' sign in a library

Diana Safieh co-hosts a true crime podcast with her sister Randa. Check out the Switchblade Sisters Social Club, a podcast where two sisters exploit their worst fears, for your entertainment.

Each year, true crime authors jump deep into the abyss of human behaviour, offering readers a chilling yet insightful perspective into real-life mysteries. But with the vast ocean of true crime literature out there, which ones stand out? Which ones should you buy for your loved ones this Christmas? Which ones investigate cases with far-reaching impacts on society, the legal system or just us as individuals?!

Read on and discover tales that will both haunt and enlighten you long after the last page is turned.

Murder Investigation Team: Jack the Ripper: A 21st Century Investigation by Steven Keogh

In 1888, London was gripped by fear as a mysterious killer, later known as Jack the Ripper, left a trail of victims - Polly Nicholls, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. Their names, once ordinary, became intertwined with the legend of their predator.

‘Murder Investigation Team: Jack the Ripper’ by former detective Steven Keogh explores this dark chapter of history. Leveraging contemporary research, witness statements, and expert insights from leading profiler Pippa Gregory, Keogh reexamines the infamous murders, applies modern investigative techniques to the age-old crimes, and poses the enduring question: Who was Jack the Ripper?

To Hunt a Killer - How I Brought Melanie Road’s Murderer to Justice by Julie Mackay and Robert Murphy

In 1984, Bath was shaken by the murder of Melanie Road. Despite an intense manhunt and 94 arrests, her killer remained elusive. 25 years later, Detective Sergeant Julie Mackay, an overlooked single mother, stumbles upon the cold case. Intrigued by the original investigation's missteps and driven by Melanie's resilient mother, Mackay tenaciously rebuilds the case and ultimately delivers justice. This book chronicles her unwavering journey to solve a decades-old mystery.

The Angel Makers: The True Story of the Most Astonishing Murder Ring in History by Patti McCracken

In the 1920s, the Hungarian village of Nagyrev concealed a chilling secret: a vast murder ring dubbed ‘The Angel Makers’ led by the cunning midwife Auntie Suzy. For over 15 years, local wives methodically poisoned unwanted offspring and abusive or annoying husbands. After more than 160 deaths, justice finally intervened, leading to a globally reported trial.

We All Go into the Dark - The Hunt for Bible John by Francisco Garcia

Between 1968 and 1969, three women met a tragic fate after nights spent at Glasgow's notorious Barrowland Ballroom. Their linked murders were attributed to a sharply dressed, scripture-reciting figure who seemed to haunt the city's dance halls. This elusive individual was never captured or identified. Will we ever know the identity of Bible John?

Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women by Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick

In 19th and early 20th-century Ireland, many young women emigrated to North America in the hopes of a brighter future. While some led peaceful lives, others found themselves ensnared in severe troubles. Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick's Bad Bridget podcast dives deep into this era, revealing instances where Irish women surpassed men in incarceration, faced prison for mere ‘stubbornness’, and even highlights a notorious serial killer, Lizzie Halliday.

This book, intertwining true crime and social history, sheds light on the tumultuous journeys of these women, from Ireland's hardships to the challenges of vast North American cities.

Borgata: Rise of Empire: A History of the American Mafia by Louis Ferrante

‘Borgata: Rise of Empire’ by former mafia member Louis Ferrante offers an in-depth look at the American mafia's origins in 19th-century Sicily and its subsequent infiltration into American society. Charting its expansion from New Orleans and New York to the glittering lights of Las Vegas, Ferrante illuminates the mob's role during prohibition, WWII intelligence support, the establishment of a Nevada gambling hub, and their unofficial Cuban dominion.

With profiles of iconic mobsters like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, this groundbreaking trilogy opener delivers an unparalleled perspective on the mafia's ascent in America, as witnessed firsthand by Ferrante.

The Missing Cryptoqueen: The Crypto Con That Fooled the World by Jamie Bartlett

In 2014, Dr Ruja Ignatova, an Oxford graduate, unveiled OneCoin, claiming it would outshine Bitcoin and revolutionise the financial landscape. As the self-proclaimed cryptoqueen, she rapidly amassed billions from global investors. By 2017, however, she vanished, along with the funds, exposing OneCoin as perhaps the 21st century's grandest scam.

‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’ chronicles Ignatova's meteoric rise and subsequent disappearance, capturing a modern saga of techno-hype and collective delusion.

Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer

Tori Telfer, author of ‘Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History’, offers a captivating exploration of history's most intriguing female con artists, from an 18th-century woman exploiting her faux-connection to Marie Antoinette to modern figures like Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey. ‘Confident Women’ spans centuries, delving into society's fascination with these crafty women and our underlying reasons.

The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro

In a small Indian village in 2014, two inseparable teenage girls vanished, only to be discovered hanging in a mango orchard hours later. Their tragic deaths ignited nationwide introspection regarding women's safety in India. Initially, the grieving families resisted removing the bodies, urging a thorough police investigation. The mystery persisted: were these deaths the result of murder, suicide, or an honour killing?