From my early passion for Sherlock
Holmes I developed an interest in real-life crime. My crime library
now includes many books on famous murderers, forensic techniques, crime
through the ages, criminal profiling and psychology, etc. I've included
links to Amazon where available for those that would like to buy a
book or read reviews.
Famous Murderers | Forensics | Psychology | Collections | Unsolved
the Ripper's Black Magic Rituals
by Ivor Edwards
You can't get much more famous than Jack the Ripper! The blurb
for this book reads:
"For more than a century, the horrific story of Jack
the Ripper has endured. The ghastly crimes of the world's most
notorious serial killer have become legend, and since they
were committed, contemporary sleuths have spent many lifetimes
attempting to identify their perpetrator. Jack the Ripper's
Black Magic Rituals takes the reader step-by-step through the
precise events at the center of the Ripper's reign of terror,
uncovering a twisted mélange of murder and black magic.
More importantly, author Ivor J. Edwards makes a convincing
case as to Jack the Ripper's true identity. That man is Dr.
Robert Donston Stephenson, an army surgeon, occultist, and
magician, who may have also murdered and dismembered his own
wife before his terrible spree in Whitechapel began."
I've read several Ripper books over the years, but this is the
latest one to earn a place in my library. Ivor Edwards certainly
makes a compelling case for Robert Donston Stephenson (also known
as Dr. Roslyn D'Onston) but I've always felt that the real Jack
the Ripper was much more likely to be a completely unknown person.
Almost all of the authors speculating on the real Jack tend to
pick well known people; I guess they have to as it would be difficult
to write 200 pages about some poor sod that lived and died in
Victorian London's slums and didn't leave a trace of his brief
time spent in this world! Much easier to pick a well known person
for which there remains a wealth of documentation about their
For lots more information on Jack the Ripper have a look at Casebook:
Jack the Ripper. Casebook has enough material to keep the
most ardent Ripper student busy for months.
Murder & Madness:
The Secret Life of Jack the Ripper
by Dr. David Abrahamsen
This book claims that it is "based on heretofore unrevealed
information from Scotland Yard." Abrahamsen asserts that
Jack the Ripper was actually two men, Prince Albert Victor Edward
(Prince Eddy) and James Kenneth Stephen, Prince Eddy's tutor.
The author's theory centers on misogyny, which he claims motivated
their killings of five East End prostitutes.
There is no real evidence presented by the author, questionable
postulations about homosexuality and transvestitism weaken this
book, and details of a police cover-up of important evidence
are also likely to stir debate.
Newgate Calendar 3
by George Theodore Wilkinson
The Newgate Calendar Improved; Being interesting memoirs of
notorious characters who have been convicted of Offence against
the laws of England, During the seventeenth century; and continued
to the present time, chronologically arranged; comprising Traitors,
Murderers, Incendiaries, Ravishers, Pirates, Mutineers, Coiners,
Highwaymen, Footpads, Housebreakers, Rioters, Extortioners, Sharpers,
Forgers, Pickpockets, Fraudulent Bankrupts, Money droppers, Impostors,
and Thieves of every Description. And Containing a number of
interesting cases never before published: with Occasional remarks
on Crimes and Punishments, Original Anecdotes, Moral reflections
and Observations on particular Cases; Explanations of the Criminal
Laws, the Speeches, Confessions and Last Exclamations of Sufferers.
To which is added a Correct Account of the Various Modes of Punishment
of criminals in Different Parts of the World by George Theodore
Wilkinson, esq. (1822)
The Devil: The Pursuit, Capture and Confession of the Most Savage
Serial Killer in History
by Richard Lourie
This is the story of Andrei Chikatilo, a sadistic sexual serial
killer convicted in Rostov of 53 murders of women and children
(although he undoubtedly committed more). Lourie focuses on detective
Issa Kostoev, who led the years-long investigation that finally
caught Chikatilo, but not before an innocent man was executed
for his first murder.
This book provides an interesting insight into the Russian legal
system as it struggled to capture Russia's very own "Jack
Brady & Hindley
: Genesis of the Moors Murders
by Fred Harrison
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley; two of the most hated names in British
history. Brady was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder
of two children and a sixteen year old boy. Hindley, convicted
on two counts of murder, was also sent to prison for life.
"Brady & Hindley : Genesis of the Moors Murders" draws
heavily on a unique series of interviews with Brady, the first
such interviews ever given to an author by a mass murderer in
Brady's claim that Myra Hindley assisted in the killing of sixteen-year-old
Pauline Reade and that David Smith, the youth who led the police
to the killers, was also involved, led the author into a thorough
new investigation of the Moors Murders and their background.
Originally published in 1986, before Brady and Hindley confessed
to killing Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, this specially updated
edition (published in 1987) includes extra material regarding
these two murders.
by Mary S Hartman
Subtitled "A True History of Thirteen Respectable French & English
Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes".
A fascinating insight into Victorian life for English and French
women. As well as details on the crimes these ladies perpetrated,
the author gives details on what society thought of these women
and what drove them to commit their dastardly crimes (although
a few of these women were undoubtedly innocent).
Most of the crimes these women committed were due to one thing:
sex. And society's views on sex and women.
Encyclopedia of Mass Murder: A Chilling Collection of Mass Murder
by Brian Lane (Editor), Wilfred Gregg (Editor)
The Encyclopedia of Mass Murder is a striking exploration of
the world's worst cases of mass murder. This exhaustive guide
has been recently revised and updated with many recent cases.
From this chilling collection a consistent pattern emerges of
the person who commits mass murder: almost always male, a loner
lacking in social skills, unable to form stable relationships.
Bearing a grudge against society in general, or blaming certain
individuals in particular, he seeks revenge in the most extreme
way. Among the 200 notorious cases profiled are Timothy McVeigh,
responsible for the deaths of 168 people in the Oklahoma City
bombing, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two heavily armed students
who opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 13 students,
and Brenda Spencer, a rare instance of a female mass murderer,
who shot dead eleven junior high classmates "because," she
said, "I don't like Mondays." Eight pages of black-and-white
photographs are included.
Killed John Lennon?
by Fenton Bresler
We all know who killed John Lennon, but this book explores the
possibility that while Mark Chapman may have pulled the trigger,
Chapman was recruited by the CIA and brainwashed into committing
the assassination (shades of the Manchurian Candidate).
Possible? Most of the evidence seems very circumstantial (i.e.
the CIA are known to have recruited people out of the YMCA, and
Chapman was heavily involved with the YMCA). I don't think that
Bresler has proven his case.
Search of the Lindbergh Baby
by Theon Wright
Probably one of the most famous kidnapping cases in American
history, the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the infant son
of Charles Lindbergh fascinated and outraged the world. This
book, written by a journalist that covered the case originally,
discusses all the evidence and comes to the conclusion that Bruno
Hauptmann, the man convicted of the kidnapping and murder, was
in all probability innocent of these crimes. This is a view shared
by many modern criminologists.
The twist to this story is a new startling development: a man
has been found who may be the supposedly murdered Charles Lindbergh,
Jr! Impossible? The author presents some fairly convincing arguments.
to Kill: How Police Take Homicide from Case to Court
by Martin Edwards
A really fascinating look into the world of murder and how police
investigate a homicide and take it from the scene of the crime
right through to the court case.
Urge To Kill is a complete homicide reference for the reader.
You'll find out:
- What happens at the scene of a crime
- How police compile an evidence file
- The role of the coroner / medical examiner
- Key questions in witness interview
Also included is 30 real-life case studies and hints and tips
aimed at the crime writer so they can get all the details correct
in their own books.
Evidence: Forty true crimes and how forensic science helped to
by David Owen
This is an easy read for those wanting an introduction to forensics.
All the basics are covered: scene investigation, identification,
poisons, weapons, fingerprints, ballistics, blood, DNA, etc.
Accompanying each subject are a couple of case studies that explain
how that particular subject was used to solve a crime. Many of
the crimes are well-known and the well-read student of crime
will already have a knowledge of them, but there's also lesser-known
What makes this book really stand out is the presentation: the
layout is suburb with hundreds of photos and illustrations. For
a crash course in forensics this book is ideal.
Lab: How Forensic Science Tracks Down and Convicts Criminals
by David Owen
Another good introduction to forensics. Like Hidden Evidence
(above), this book has great presentation: the layout is suburb
with hundreds of photos and illustrations. Thirteen chapters,
128 pages, 20 real-life case studies such as the World Trade
Center bombing, the O.J. Simpson trial and serial killer Ted
by J.H.H Gaute and Robin Odell
Instead of concentrating on the criminals, this book looks at
the various techniques that people have employed to knock off
unloved ones. Starting with "acid" and working through "bacterial
poisoning", "cannibalism", "gassing", "lividity", "quicklime", "strangulation" and
ending on "XYY chromosomes"; altogether 142 subjects
With plenty of photographs and illustrations to drool over,
this book is an absolute mine of information.
The Memoirs of Milton Helpern, the World's Greatest Medical Detective
by Milton Helpern M.D., Bernard Knight M.D.
Acknowledged by his peers as the greatest criminal pathologist
of our time, Milton Helpern's long and successful career makes
riveting reading. Much of his working life was spent dissecting
the tragic remains and analysing the ghoulish outcome of violent
death. In court hi brilliantly presented forensic evidence could
sway many an undecided juror. The tiniest detail, whether extracted
from a blood-spattered pillow or taken from a decomposed corpse,
proved the innocence or some - and sent many more to their own
by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
For those that don't already know, John
Douglas is a former chief profiler at the FBI's behavioral
sciences unit. During his twenty-five year career Special Agent
John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement,
pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers
of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the
woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's
Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life.
As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs,
Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial
killers and assassins, including Charles
Bundy, and Ed
Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Using
his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas
examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the
victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing
their habits, and predicting their next moves.
Mindhunter is a gripping and somewhat disturbing read.
Anatomy Of Motive
by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
In this book John Douglas pieces together motives behind violent
sociopathic behavior. He not only takes us into the darkest recesses
of the minds of arsonists, hijackers, bombers, poisoners, assassins,
serial killers, and mass murderers, but also the seemingly ordinary
people who suddenly kill their families or go on a rampage in
Douglas identifies the antisocial personality, showing surprising
similarities and differences among various types of deadly offenders.
He also tracks the progressive escalation of those criminals'
sociopathic behavior. His analysis of such diverse killers as
Lee Harvey Oswald, Theodore Kaczynski, and Timothy McVeigh is
gripping, but more importantly, helps us learn how to anticipate
potential violent behavior before it's too late.
Cases That Haunt Us
by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker
John Douglas is back and this time he casts his eye over some
legendary murders. The cases examined include: Jack the Ripper,
Lizzie Borden, The Lindbergh Kidnapping, The Zodiac, JonBenet
This is an intriguing and well thought out book. What makes
The Cases That Haunt Us so interesting is that the author offers
his professional opinions and uses his profiling techniques to
predict who the perpetrator was (or in some cases, was not).
I enjoyed all of the cases reviewed here except the JonBenet
Ramsey murder. I feel that Douglas is too close to this case
to be truly objective (he was brought in by the Ramseys' attorneys
to give his opinion as to whether or not he thought either one
of them could have killed JonBenet; he does not think that either
is guilty). This chapter reads too much like a justification
of Douglas's controversial defence of the Ramseys, and less like
an objective examination.
by Ronald M. Holmes and James De Burger
This slim volume (150 odd pages) is one of the first books to
provide a systematic examination of serial murder. It takes an
historical and theoretical approach to provide a thorough and
practical guide to this phenomenon. The authors provide an overview
of the cultural background, the social context and the characteristics
of serial murder and its perpetrators.
This comprehensive volume discusses such issues as why serial
murder occurs and how the murderers select their victims. It
assesses the impact of serial murder on the families of victims
and on the communities where it occurs. The authors also emphasize
practical issues such as the ability of police to identify serial
murder cases and the determination of jurisdiction.
Almanac of Murder
by Fenton Bresler
A collection of 366 murders, one for each day of the year. Find
out who murdered whom on your birthday! A great book to dip into
with small, bite-sized stories.
Encyclopedia of Women Killers
by Brian Lane
In The Encyclopedia of Women Killers, true life historian Brian
Lane has compiled a comprehensive collection of cases illustrating
the phenomenon of the female killer.
The comparative rarity of women killers makes this collection
fascinating reading for any true crime enthusiast. From over
200 individual murder cases a pattern emerges of two main categories
of deadly females: those who kill for the classic motives of
greed, jealousy, lust and revenge; and those for whom murder
is a last resort after years of male suppression and violence.
by Brian Bailey
The flash of a dagger - the crack of a pistol or rifle - the
blast of a bomb: the impact of political and religious assassinations
has reverberated through the centuries. Julius Caesar, Tomas
Becket, Abraham Lincoln, Rasputin, Martin Luther King, Gandhi
and John F. Kennedy - all have died by an assassin's hand.
Unfortunately the author of this book has decided to go for
breadth rather than depth. The 160 odd pages cover more than
200 assassinations, resulting in most of the assassinations getting
only one or two paragraphs. This is a great shame because when
Bailey does go into detail about some of the really famous assassinations
the details prove to be riveting reading. The Assassination File
would have been better if only 30 or so assassinations were covered
in more detail.
by David Seabrook
Jack the Stripper was the name given to a serial murderer that,
between 1964 and 1965, murdered six (possibly eight) prostitutes.
Known as the "nude murders" because the bodies were
found naked and dumped around London and in one case in the Thames
The police had few forensic clues to go on; the main one being
flecks of paint found on four of the bodies which suggested the
bodies had been stored in or near a paint shop, possibly a car
The police instigated a massive man-hunt, interviewing almost
7,000 people and setting up a The killer was never bought to
justice and the killings just stopped after police announced
they had narrowed their suspect list down to twenty men.
The author has meticulously interviewed a large number of people
in order to piece together the last few days and weeks of the
victims. Every squalid little detail of their sordid lives is
laid bare for our review: divorces, pimps, broken families, alcohol
abuse, STD's. We are taken on a tour of sleazy night clubs, dirty
hovels that the victims called "home", seedy alleys
and backways. Finally a prime suspect becomes clear, although
he is never named and only described as an ex-police officer.
I found this an engrossing book about a part of London life
that I knew little about.
Murders & Mysteries
by John Canning
A collection of unsolved murders and mysteries:
- Did a hungry dingo really kill Azaria Chamberlain at Ayers
- Was the Axeman of New Orleans brought to summary justice?
- Will the identity of Jack the Ripper ever be known?
- Was Caryl Chessman, executed after 12 years on death row,
innocent after all?
- Was the man in Spandau really Rudolf Hess?
These and other unsolved cases, 28 in all, are examined in some
detail. There are many photographs sprinkled throughout.