Classic True Crime Book Covers

This page dates back several years to when I had a particular interest in true crime books. These are books which were either ones I had particularly enjoyed (so to speak) or were hard to find. Many of the books are available from sites like and

There are more covers on sites for true crime authors Stephen Michaud, Jack Olsen and Carlton Stowers.

Canadian Interest indicates books of "Canadian interest."

Allen, William: Starkweather -- The Story of a Mass Murderer.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976 (hardcover). (Also paperback, Avon, 1977.)

Altman, Jack & Ziporyn, Marvin, M.D.: Born to Raise Hell.
Grove Press, 1968. Richard Speck.

Andrews, Frank Earl (ed.): Prose and Cons.
Pyramid, 1976. Prose, poetry and drawings by several men and women behind bars, including Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten (Charles Manson family members) and Henry Lucas (presumably notorious serial killer).

Angelella, Michael. Trail of Blood.
New American Library, 1981. Albert Fish.

Anspacher, Carolyn. The Trial of Dr. De Kaplany.
Signet, 1967. Doctor bathes his showgirl wife in acid, then mutilates her body with a knife.

Beaver, Ninette, Ripley, B.K. and Trese, Patrick: Caril.
Bantam, 1976. Story of Charles Starkweather's "better half."

Bolitho, William: Murder for Profit.
Dolphin Books, 1961.

Burdick, Thomas; Mitchell, Charlene: Blue Thunder.
Simon & Schuster, 1990. The murder of Miami cigarette boat builder Don Aronow (see also "Speed Kills" below).

Cheney, Margaret: The Co-Ed Killer.
Walker and Company, 1976. Serial killer Edmund Kemper III.

Cheney, Margaret: Why - The Serial Killer in America.
R & E Publishers, 1992. Edmund Kemper III. Revised reissue of Cheney's classic, The Co-Ed Killer, 1976.

Damio, Ward: Urge To Kill.
Pinnacle, 1974. Herbert Mullin, Edward Kemper, John Frazier. Hard to find, but overall a mediocre read.

"Dean, John": The Indiana Torture Slaying.
Bee-Line, 1966. Sylvia Likens/Gertrude Baniszewski. (Also back cover.) Very rare in its original printing. This book was republished in a mass market paperback in 2008.

Dejardins, Christiane: Lynda Véronneau: Dans L'Ombre de Karla.Canadian Interest
Les Éditions Voix Parallèles, 2005. Details Véronneau's love affair with Canadian murderess Karla Homolka that began in 1998 while they were both incarcerated in Quebec's Joliette prison. Text in this book is entirely in French.

Denton, Sally: The Bluegrass Conspiracy.
Avon Books, 1991.

Downs, Thomas: The Door-to-Door Killer.
Dell, 1984. Joseph Kallinger (same story as Schreiber's "The Shoemaker").

Duffy, Clinton T. with Hirschberg, Al: Sex and Crime.
Pocket Books, 1967. Deserves a prize for its lurid cover.

Englade, Ken: Cellar of Horror.
St. Martin's, 1988. Gary Heidnik.

Ferry, Jon & Inwood, Damian: The Olson Murders.Canadian Interest
Cameo Books, 1982. Early book about Canada's most notorious serial killer.

Freeman, Lucy: Catch Me Before I Kill More.
Cardinal, 1956. William Heirens.

Freeman, Lucy & Hulse, Dr. Wilfred C.: Children Who Kill.
Berkley Medallion, 1962.

Golden, Harry: A Little Girl is Dead.
Avon, 1965.

Guillen, Tomas: Toxic Love.
Dell, 1995. A really nauseating book which actually made me physically ill while reading it (and I usually have a strong stomach for this kind of material).

Harris, Arthur Jay: Speed Kills.
Avon Books, 1998. The murder of Miami cigarette boat builder Don Aronow.

Hahn, Jon K. & McKenney, Harold C.: Legally Sane.
Henry Regnery Company, 1972. Story of multiple murderer Mark Alan Smith by McKenney, Smith's lawyer, and Hahn. Extremely rare, never reprinted in paperback.

Harrison, Fred: Brady & Hindley: Genesis of the Moors Murders.
Grafton, 1988.

Hoffman, Paul & Pecznick, Ira: To Drop a Dime: The Mafia Hit Man's Uncensored Story
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1976. Story of squealer who spilled the beans on New Jersey Campisi family. One of the most expensive true crime books if you want to buy it these days. (Also paperback, Jove Books, 1977.) This book is hard to find, but not as rare as you might think. It went through multiple printings in paperback. A fellow bookseller, who lives in New Jersey, once told me: "The book is in constant demand in New Jersey because it names names. The prices you see on the Net (which have been there for years) are on the other side of absurdity."

Jackman, Tom & Cole, Troy: Rites of Burial.
Pinnacle, 1992. Robert Berdella. An unbelievably sickening book.

Kaihla, Paul & Laver, Ross: Savage Messiah.Canadian Interest
Seal Books, 1994. A Canadian classic -- this guy makes Manson look like Mother Teresa!

Leyton, Elliott: Hunting Humans.Canadian Interest
McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1986. Must-have book by Canadian anthropologist. Updated by the author in 2005.

Lunde, Donald: Murder and Madness.
Stanford Alumni Association, 1975. Chapter on Herbert Mullin, among other things.

Lunde, Donald & Morgan, Jefferson: The Die Song.
Playboy Paperbacks, 1981. Herbert Mullin.

Masters, Brian: 'She Must Have Known.'
Corgi Books, 1998. Rosemary West, wife of U.K. serial killer Fred.

Mulgrew, Ian: Final Payoff.Canadian Interest
Seal Books, 1991. Another early book about Canada's most notorious serial killer.

Nelson, Polly: Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy's Last Lawyer.
William Morrow & Company, 1994. Ted Bundy. Never issued in paperback.

O'Brien, Darcy: Two of a Kind.
Signet, 1987. The Hillside Stranglers -- superbly written!

O'Neill, Brian: A Marriage Made for Murder.Canadian Interest
Self-published, 1995. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka -- home-made production about Canada's "Barbie and Ken" killers.

Potter, John Deane: The Monsters of the Moors.
Ballantine Books, 1967. Brady and Hindley.

Rule, Ann: The Stranger Beside Me.
New American Library, 1980.

Sanders, Ed: The Family.
Avon, 1972. Charles Manson.

Shirley, Glenn: Born to Kill.
Monarch Books, 1963. Gun-crazy, mad-dog terrorist Billy Cook leads police on a chase through 14 states and Mexico, uncovering in his wake six murders and as many kidnappings.

Sipe, Onjya: Devil's Dropout.
Extremely rare Manson book (religious angle).

Stack, Andy (Ann Rule): The I-5 Killer.
Randall Woodfield.

Stack, Andy (Ann Rule): Lust Killer.
Jerome Brudos.

Stack, Andy (Ann Rule): The Want-Ad Killer.
Harvey Carignan.

Villaseñor, Victor: Jury.
Bantam Books, 1978. Excellent book about the jury at the trial of serial killer Juan Corona in 1972 and 1973. (Also Dell reprint, 1997.)

Watkins, Paul with Soledad, Guillermo: My Life with Charles Manson.
Bantam, 1979. Manson's number two man tells about life with "The Family."

Wertham, Fredric, M.D.: A Sign for Cain.
Warner Paperback Library, 1969. "An exploration of human violence." (Also second edition.)

West, Anne Marie with Hill, Virginia: Out of the Shadows.
Pocket Books (UK), 1996. Daughter of English serial killer Fred West tells her story.

West, Donald: Sacrifice Unto Me.
Pyramid, 1974. Herbert Mullin and Edward Kemper. Very rare.

Williams, Emelyn: Beyond Belief.
World Books, 1968 (hardcover). Brady and Hindley. (Also paperback, Pan, 1968.)

Williams, Stephen: Karla: Le Pacte Avec le Diable.Canadian Interest
Trait d'Union, 2002 (trade paperback). Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. This is the original printing of the book which contains 8 pages of black and white photos, including one of Homolka in bondage, full-frontal nude.

Williams, Stephen: Karla: A Pact with the Devil.Canadian Interest
Cantos, 2003 (trade paperback). Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. This is the first English edition of the book which contains 16 pages of color photos (many the same as the French edition above), some of which were suppressed in later printings.

Williams, Stephen: Karla: A Pact with the Devil.Canadian Interest
Seal Books, 2004 (paperback). Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. Paperback edition of the book above, contains no photos.

Click here to read about the differences between versions of the above books about Karla Homolka by Stephen Williams.

R.C. Zaehner: Our Savage God. Sheed and Ward Inc., New York, N.Y., 1974 hardcover; Collins, London, England, 1974 hardcover. Rare Charles Manson-related title.