I am an avid podcast listener. I originally began listening to podcasts in 2014 when Serial debuted and everyone was talking about it. While looking for other similar podcasts, I stumbled upon My Favorite Murder which only had a few episodes available. I immediately fell in love with Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff and their witty commentary on life experiences, self-advocacy, and their “favorite” murders.
I am a member of their Fan Cult and definitely consider myself a murderino—a person with a borderline obsessive interest in true crime. A true-crime, comedy podcast may sound inappropriate, and I understand newcomer’s hesitations. However, these two women treat the details of the crimes and the victims with the upmost respect and seriousness. The comedy is in their commentary—maybe it is something that needs to be experienced to understand.
This May, their book, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide will be published. In anticipation, I have compiled a list of books that may appeal to my fellow murderinos, or those with a slight interest in true-crime.
In the very first episode of My Favorite Murder, Karen spoke about the Golden State Killer (known as The Original Nightstalker at the time of recording). It is only fitting that Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, is included on this list. McNamara tirelessly researched police reports, interviewed victims, and attempted to draw conclusions on who this unknown predator might be. It is tragic that McNamara passed before her book could be published, and was unable to see the break in the case in April 2018, when Joseph James DeAngelo was charged with numerous rapes, burglaries, and murders committed from 1974-1986. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark provides a chilling and detailed account of how a crime and its aftermath can affect an entire community for decades.
Ann Rule is regarded as one of the foremost true crime writers, and one of the main writers responsible for shaping today’s true-crime genre. Her first novel The Stranger Beside Me describes her friendship with Ted Bundy. For those looking for an introduction to true-crime, this would be an excellent title to start with as it is a fascinating look into one of America’s most notorious serial killers, and his ability to deceive those closest to him.
In episode twenty-eight of My Favorite Murder, Karen and Georgia talk about the amazing story of Terry Jo Duperraul. At age eleven, Terry’s family was murdered on a chartered sailboat. She was able to escape and survive for four days on a float in the middle of the ocean. Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard D. Logan and Tere Duperrault Fassbender. This book recounts Terry’s survival story while also delving into her healing process as an adult.
The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central by Christine Pelisek recounts a serial killer who went uninvestigated for decades in Los Angeles. Pelisek is a crime reporter that followed the case extensively for years. She includes detailed information about each victim while examining how their murders went unsolved for so long. This title is an excellent look into the investigation from start to finish.
Kerri Rawson is the daughter of the infamous serial killer, Dennis Rader, also known as BTK. Rader gave himself the name “BTK” for his preferred method of murdering his victims with Bind, Torture, Kill. Rawson’s recently released book, A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming recounts her experiences learning that her father is a killer and how she is able to overcome the feelings of betrayal and anger with her realization. This is an excellent title to explore how a killer’s family can also be an inadvertent victim of their violence.
For those looking for fiction, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn is a good place to start. Libby Day was seven when she survived an attack that left her mother and two sisters murdered and her brother convicted of the killings. Twenty-five years later, a group that is obsessed with true-crime contacts Libby to look into the details of the crime. Libby is forced to confront her memories of the tragic night while questioning the guilt of her brother. For those that enjoy being an arm-chair detective, this psychologically suspenseful story is for you.
Before She Knew Him: A Novel by Peter Swanson follows the main character Henrietta, who could be dubbed a “fellow murderino.” She has settled into a quiet life that is turned upside down when she meets her new neighbor Michael. Henrietta spots a trophy in Michael’s house that is eerily similar to one that went missing from a recent murder scene. Could he be a killer? Or is Henrietta just being paranoid? The more she observes him, the more she begins to suspect him, while realizing that he may be onto her suspicions.
If you like Young Adult fiction, One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is an excellent selection. It is very similar to The Breakfast Club in that the five students in detention fit all of the roles: the brain, the beauty, the criminal, the athlete, and the outcast. The outcast, Simon, is the creator of the high school’s popular gossip app, and he has dirt on his four fellow detention-mates. However, Simon never makes it out of detention alive, and his death wasn’t an accident. How far would you go to protect a secret?
Liar by Justine Larbalestier offers another great YA read. Micah is a compulsive liar and she knows it. She is also a suspect in her boyfriend Zach’s murder. She wants to tell the truth, but will anyone believe her—even if she is telling the truth? This paranormal fiction tale engrosses the reader and leaves you questioning what is “truth” and what is a “lie”.
Another YA novel, Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson will keep the reader engrossed until the very end. Stevie is an aspiring “murderino” who is attending the prestigious Ellington Academy. This school is also the setting for the unsolved kidnapping and murder of the founder’s wife and daughter in the 1930s. Stevie is determined to finally solve the cold case, but her plans are derailed when a fellow classmate is murdered. How do you solve a mystery when the founder of Ellington Academy’s love for puzzles and secrets only lead to more questions than answers?
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide will not be releases until May. Please contact any of our locations to reserve your “hold” today, and to find out more titles that will satisfy your murderino obsession.