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Read These True Crime Books This Summer to Send a Shiver Down Your Spine

Cool down with these chilling reads.

True crime books to read this summer, including Hell in the Heartland by Jax Miller
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  • Photo Credit: Hell in the Heartland by Jax Miller

Whenever I think about reading true crime in the summer, I always think of the meme that goes:

Literally no one:

Me: “I heard serial killers become more active in the summer months when it’s hot” (see meme below for visual reference!)

I mean, it makes sense! This is why I don’t sleep with the windows open. Or if I do, the window lock is on and I definitely have a screen. Got to stay alert!

What’s better than reading true crime with a bunch of friends during the summer? NOTHING. I find that in real life, I have a hard time finding friends who share my macabre interests. Luckily, I have discovered the INTERNET and apparently, there are a lot of other weirdos with similar interests out there. In an effort to bring us all together, I have created a True Crime Book Club (if you’re interested, you can join here). This summer I’m hosting a Summer (Crime) Madness reading event and you’re more than welcome to join the party. 

In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of essential true crime summer reading. While most of these focus on serial killers who operated during the sweltering heat of summer some are just hot new reads that should be on your radar.

serial killer "literally no one" meme

True Crime Books to Read This Summer that Are Already Published

california murders

The Night Stalker

By Philip Carlo

If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary on the Night Stalker aka Richard Ramirez, you should really read this book as there is a TON of information that isn’t mentioned. It’s so much worse. Also, did you know Ramirez got married while incarcerated? Ew! Sorry if that’s a spoiler but you should know. Apparently, he had A LOT of women vying for his attention once he was in prison. I can’t.

helter skelter vincent bulgiosi curt gentry

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

By Vincent Bugliosi

Reading about cults in the summertime seems mandatory. Helter Skelter is a comprehensive and compelling book about Charles Manson and the Tate/LaBianca murders that took place in August of 1969. A must-read for cult fanatics.

ill be gone in the dark

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

By Michelle McNamara

Oh my gosh, this book is so scary. It’s especially scary to read it in summer because most likely, you have your windows open to let in a breeze. Well, CLOSE THE WINDOWS. LOCK THEM. There are too many creeps out there. My advice to you is to only read this book during daylight hours. Michelle McNamara's I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a very popular book about the Golden State Killer—and totally worth the read. (And you can read a free excerpt here!)

Related: 13 Riveting True Crime Books for Fans of I'll Be Gone In the Dark

true crime we cant wait to read this summer hell in the heartland

Hell in the Heartland

By Jax Miller

I am convinced that if a book has the word 'hell' in the title that it’s a summer read. I mean, hell is hot, summer is hot… get it? I love that Jax Miller is so passionate about seeking the truth about what really happened in rural Oklahoma on December 30, 1999, that she fully immersed herself in the community. After a fire engulfs the Freeman family trailer, teenagers Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible are nowhere to be found. This case is full of corruption, deceit, and shady characters. Sure to get your blood boiling. 

Hell's Half Acre by Susan Jonusas

Hell's Half-Acre: The Untold Story of the Benders, a Serial Killer Family on the American Frontier

By Susan Jonusas

Equal parts history and true crime, Hell’s Half Acre sounds like a completely captivating read. Jonusas is a historian who specializes in crime and culture and in this book, she is going to take on the mystery surrounding the Bender family also known as AMERICA’S FIRST SERIAL KILLER FAMILY. I don’t know about you but that sounds interesting AF.

Boys Enter the House by David Nelson

Boys Enter the House

By David Nelson

I truly love and appreciate true crime books that focus on the victims’ lives. So, thank you David Nelson for writing this book about the victims of John Wayne Gacy. We’ve heard enough about the Killer Clown and he doesn’t deserve any more of our time. 

True Crime Book That Will Be Released This Summer

Unmask Alice by Rick Emerson

Unmask Alice

By Rick Emerson

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Surely if you were an angsty teen you read the book Go Ask Alice? To this day, I *still* have a copy on my shelf. Unmask Alice is a highly anticipated release for me. I cannot wait. Why??? Because the Alice we are UNMASKING is the Alice from Go Ask Alice! Yes, you heard me correctly. Go Ask Alice is supposedly an anonymous diary but Unmask Alice is going to expose the DECEPTOR!