Over at The Lineup, you know we love all things creepy, strange, and macabre—just like you! We do the research so you don't have to—and bring your only the best in horror, true crime, and paranormal.
For us, “Spooky Season” is all year long—so we've served up the chilling recommendations and spine-tingling tales that we know you'll love best. Whether it be a brand-new horror bestseller or a classic tale of fright, our team of writers is committed to scouring the shelves with all the creepy picks that deserve a place on your TBR.
But today it’s your turn! We’ve compiled a list of The Lineup community’s top books of 2023. The books on this list have been loved by our audience and include accounts of real-life unsolved murder cases, reports of the most haunted places to visit, anthologies that pay homage to cosmic horror author H.P. Lovecraft, and so much more.
As the year comes to an end, take a look back at the books that fueled our nightmares in 2023!
Children of Lovecraft
Curated by award-winning editor Ellen Datlow, this collection features original supernatural tales evoking H.P. Lovecraft's eerie fascination with the enigmatic and cosmic unknown. Emerging writers delve into Lovecraft's realm, unleashing fresh themes and chilling horrors in his literary playground.
Despite his charm, diligence, kindness, and physical fitness, Randy Roth faced a streak of unfortunate relationships. His first marriage ended swiftly, his second wife died on a hiking trip, and his third left him after a short span.
However, suspicions arose when his fourth wife, Cynthia, drowned in what “appeared” to be a speedboating accident. Roth's pursuit of a substantial insurance payout drew attention to his dubious conduct. Despite his cautious approach, investigative reporter Carlton Smith reveals how Roth's carefully woven lies were on the verge of unraveling, chronicling the impending downfall in a tale captured by the Seattle Times.
Crimes of Passion
In his debut nonfiction work, celebrated mystery writer Howard Engel delves into the history of crimes of passion across France, England, Canada, and the United States. From Ruth Ellis, England's last woman hanged, to modern cases like O.J. Simpson and Lorena Bobbitt, Engel navigates these chilling tales while dissecting legal codes and moral implications throughout history.
Through meticulous research and a novelist's knack for detail, Crimes of Passion offers gripping clarity to each gruesome case. True crime enthusiasts, amateur historians, and lovers of all things macabre will be enthralled by this exceptional work.
In yet another skillful curation by the award-winning editor Ellen Datlow, this collection presents nineteen more Lovecraftian tales, blending new and rediscovered stories inspired by the iconic horror writer's mythos. Contemporary masters of supernatural suspense pay homage to H.P. Lovecraft's legacy through eerie tales of weird fiction and cosmic horror, celebrating his enduring influence on the genre.
Winter of Frozen Dreams
On a frigid Christmas morning, Gerald Davies led Madison police to Tomahawk Ridge, uncovering the naked, bloodied body of Harold Berge. Davies claimed innocence, stating that he and his fiancée merely buried the corpse in a snowbank. The investigation revealed Barbara Hoffman's involvement, a former University of Wisconsin student employed at Jan's Health Studio, linked romantically to both Davies and the victim.
As suspicions grew—Berge being Hoffman's ex-lover who signed over assets to her, alongside Davies naming her as his beneficiary—the police feared for Davies' safety. Despite monitoring, Davies was later found dead in what seemed a Valium-induced suicide. However, Hoffman's expertise in chemistry raised doubts about the cause, prompting a thorough investigation into her role in the local sex trade—and the deaths of her clients.
Nine-year-old Swan bounces from one Kansas trailer park to the next with her mother, until their simple life is derailed when she begins to receive horrifying visions of doom. She sees mankind wiped out by nuclear bombs, with only a few survivors left behind to struggle through the burning ruins.
Meanwhile, a homeless woman in Manhattan is given a prophecy of a peculiar amulet—but something sinister is in pursuit of her. On an Idaho mountain, a young orphan is guided by brutal survivalists and discovers his own killer instinct. In Nebraska’s dust storms, Swan forms a deep bond with an unexpected companion. They’ll all cross paths before long, but Swan is the only one who knows what horrors lie ahead beyond even radiation, mutant animals, hunger, and wasteland warriors. A great, shape-shifting evil is coming, and it wants to rob the world of its last bits of goodness.
It Was a Dark and Creepy Night
Author Joshua P. Warren has collected short and chillingly true stories from all around the world. Do ghosts send a shiver down your spine? Do cryptids keep you up at night? Can’t stop looking over your shoulder for a demon? All these terrifying encounters and more are included in this engaging paranormal read.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of an unexplained communication? Paranormal experts William J. Hall and Jimmy Petonito investigate strange messages via phones, computers, TVs, radios, letters, and beyond. Some of these correspondences come from loved ones that never sent them. Some come from beyonds not of this earth. Others come from the past or future… From predictions to warnings, this book attempts to unravel the truth.
This riveting investigative biography digs into the final years of Michael Jackson. Millions of fans around the globe were shocked and devastated when the King of Pop passed away on June 25th, 2009. Throughout his career, Jackson had a number of scandals nipping at his heels, but it always seemed he was untouchable.
This book takes a peek behind his public persona to find a man who lived in solitude, until one criminal left him hospitalized and spurred him to make a grand journey to recover his wealth and reputation. From pedophilia allegations that will forever follow his legacy to the suspicious circumstances of his death, this is a nuanced and intriguing portrait of a complicated legend.
Talking with Psychopaths: Letters from Serial Killers
How does an investigator convince a convicted killer to do an interview? What could a murderer who’s locked away have to say? And what is it like to talk to a monster? This book explores these questions and beyond by taking a look at criminals through their own words. Peer into the minds of The Genesee River Killer, The Death Row Teddy, The Ice Queen, The Want-ad Killer, The Moors Murderer, The Amityville Horror, The I-95 Killer, and more.
Besides the fact that her town has a healthy population of theater eccentrics, Lit Moylan lives a relatively normal life. But when her godfather, Axel Kern, moves into the mansion on the hill, he brings with him hedonistic parties overflowing with booze, drugs, and sex. These parties are meant for something far more wicked than a bit of fun, however. When Lit touches a statue at one of these bashes, she discovers she is meant to play a role in a dangerous world of ancient gods and secret societies.
Three Sisters in Black
This is the true story of how a bathtub drowning became one of America’s most infamously bizarre criminal cases. Police were called to a rundown home in East Orange, New Jersey, on November 29, 1909. Here they found Oceana “Ocey” Snead, an emaciated 24-year-old, dead in the bath. Considering the presence of a note, it appeared to be suicide by drowning. But the investigators soon found that this was no suicide, and Ocey’s mourning mother and two aunts were nothing like they appeared to be.
Howard Marks had 43 different aliases throughout the mid-1980s, which had him maintaining 89 phone lines and 25 companies around the globe. Be it a local bar or a recording studio, every business he had a hand in was really just a front for laundering money for his dope-dealing empire.
He’d gotten his start peddling small amounts of hashish while he was studying postgraduate philosophy at Oxford but moved on to much larger quantities when he discovered how lucrative it could be. At his peak, he was smuggling up to 50 tons at a time to North America from Pakistan and Thailand, with contacts in high places like the MI6, the CIA, the IRA, and the Mafia.
This is a piece of investigative journalism that follows the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Columbian Medellin cocaine cartel, who terrorized and held hostage a nation of 30 million. Never-before-revealed details are presented about the 16-month manhunt for the man whose death finally freed the Columbian people from a ruthless path of destruction bred from greed.
Readers will come to understand Escobar’s life story, beginning from when he was a young man and began practicing theft on a smaller scale, to how he discovered immeasurable wealth and power through the drug trade with violence he was all too willing to exploit. Through secret documents and transcripts of private phone conversations, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes all the gritty details of this cruel and calculating man’s life.
My Son, The Killer
Award-winning journalist and author Brian Whitney pieces together the heinous murder of Jun Lin by Luke Magnotta, a male escort and model who, yearning for attention, posted a sickening videotape of him mutilating Jun Lin’s body online and then mailed his victim’s body parts to elementary schools.
Whitney provides an inside look at this sadistic “social media” killer, while Anna Yourkin, the killer’s estranged mother, shares her perspective and experience with reconnecting with her son after he committed murder. Upon finishing, audiences will have better insight into the demented mind of an unremorseful killer.
Karen Kingsbury True Crime Novels
Most well-known for her #1 New York Times-bestselling Christian Romance novels, some of which are under development with Hallmark Films, early in her writing career, Karen Kingsbury dabbled in true crime. Having found that the darkness within the stories she had brought to life was too overwhelming, she changed her preferred writing genre. However, in this collection, readers will get the chance to read some of her early works—four chilling true crime books that draw on her experiences as a Los Angeles Times reporter.
Readers will learn about how a woman became a murder victim through a church program; a man led a double life with two wives; a Spring Break vacation went horribly wrong; and a pair of murderous friends gave “backstabbing” a new, darker meaning.
Too Pretty to Live
The lead prosecutor in this complicated, catfishing murder case, Dennis Brooks, skillfully weaves the details of a compelling story of unrequited love turned double-murder.
Chris, a concerned CIA agent, began communicating via Facebook with Jenelle’s overprotective parents and her boyfriend, warning them that two people—Bill Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth—were planning on hurting and possibly killing Jenelle. Over their correspondence, Chris appeared to become a part of the family, forming a particularly close bond with Jenelle’s mother, Barbara.
Convinced that something awful was bound to happen to their loved one, Jenelle’s father and boyfriend broke into the couple’s home and murdered both. Police investigators found their infant cradled safely in the dead mother’s arms upon arrival, hours after the crime. Soon after, police made another unsettling discovery—Jenelle had been Chris the whole time.
Having been rejected by Bill Payne, whom she had a crush on, Jenelle swore vengeance on the happy couple by manipulating her family to carry out her evil plans. This is an unsettling account of the details of the crime and trial of a calculated killer who unsuccessfully tried to cover her tracks through a secret online persona.
The disappearance of Natalee Holloway, a 19-year-old who disappeared in 2005 during her senior trip to Aruba, is discussed through a personal account from Dave Holloway, the young woman’s father who did everything he could to find his daughter, including searching through crack houses and trash dumps and enlisting the help of psychics that would offer any insight into the case.
Within this book, readers will find discussions about the corruption of Aruban law enforcement and the trails that seemed to lead to possible sexual slavery. This account, which was published before Joran van der Sloot’s murder confession, follows a father’s desperate search for answers to bring justice to his beloved child.
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places, Revised Edition
Compiled and edited by Jeff Belanger, the founder of Ghostvillage.com, a popular site for the devoted supernatural community, has gifted readers with a collection of information about the best haunted places for tourists to visit from various places around the world.
Readers will find research notes, background on various locations and interviews with well-known paranormal investigators who explore haunted battlefields, libraries and churches known for ghostly encounters. This is a perfect read for those interested in going on a ghostly road trip to discover various haunts.
Haunted Lower Eastern Shore
Author Mindie Burgoyne acts as the reader's personal guide through Maryland’s haunted regions. Whether it’s sightings of candles moving past windows at the Teackle Mansion in Princess Anne or ghostly footsteps heard at Snow Hill’s River House, Burgyone will chill readers with well-researched and thoughtfully written paranormal lore. Readers will appreciate the way the author consistently explains the significant historical backgrounds of each location in the chilling ghost tales.
Murder in St. Augustine
Athalia Ponsell Lindsley, a former model, political activist and TV hostess once engaged to Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., was murdered with a machete on the front steps of her mansion. Lindsley’s friend and neighbor, who may have known who killed her, was murdered a few months later on a nightly walk.
Despite there being gossip and evidence to suggest that another neighbor may have been responsible for the deaths, the case remains unsolved. Author Elizabeth Randall sifts through the rumors to get to the truth of the case by combing through over 1,000 pages of depositions, records, official county documents and interviews to explain why she believes a guilty man was able to walk free.
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