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I haven't read two of the books you mention, Laura, but I disagree strongly about the rest! I know CSM is a well respected paper/magazine, but I don't agree with their journalist - no Pearson or Roughhead? What about Vincent Bugliosi's "The Manson Murders"? No Ann Rule? I could keep this up for hours, but I won't!

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I guess the historical moniker is what kept The Monster of Florence off of this list.

Randy Dotinga


Randy Dotinga here. I'm the author of the CS Monitor article.

As the headline says, these are my picks for the best historical true crime books .

I'd have a very different list if it was for all time. Thanks!



Randy, now you are just teasing us. Send us a link to your all time best!

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Exactly my thoughts Fiz. Thanks for your article, it's well written and documented.


Just ordered the two books on your list I have not read. Thanks for the recommendations and the consistently excellent posts and responses we find here.

April Moore

The Devil in the White City is one of my favorite books--so good, I read it twice! I'm glad I came across your site--lots of fabulous information.

Leigh LaFon

I don't disagree with the list, but I would like to make a prediction. The international media frenzy in 2007/2008 over the historic (decades long) institutionalized child abuse which took place in Jersey, Channel Islands, will soon be back in the news with evidence of a systematic cover-up of the kind which topples governments.

Jersey bloggers and a former Jersey police chief have blown the lid off a cover-up of the cover-up and it is only a matter of time before this becomes global front page news all over again.

It is not yet clear what happened to many unexplained juvenile bones and unnaturally shed milk teeth which were uncovered in the Haut de la Garenne punishment cellars, but the lie the government told about the forensic evidence is now apparent in the form of numerous legal documents posted online in assorted Jersey blogs.

Expect this to call into account the ethical credibility of the reporters of BBC Jersey and to shame or implicate many within the UK government.

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I miss CLEWS! It's a wonderful blog and has inspired me to consider doing something along these lines myself. I'm sure you're on to bigger and better challenges (a new book, perhaps?), but I really miss the fascinating stories I always found when I visited. It's fun to re-read older entries, but I miss your voice.


Leanora Minai


Thanks for the interesting and useful post; I agree with the Erik Larson pick by the Monitor. He's a terrific storyteller, and I can't wait to read his new book.

I just published (last Saturday) my new part-time blog, covering public safety topics in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina. If you have some time, I'd love your feedback:

(I'm a former St. Petersburg Times cops reporter, and I came across your site tonight as I was doing some research on blogs).

I enjoyed your posts and look forward to stopping by again soon.


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Great recommendations! I read "The Devil in the White City" and it was awesome. I'll have to check out the others. Thanks

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The list is just great, but I had trouble approving what you called "Historical" as much for "2. For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder That Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz ".
I was really shocked by the insensitivity of this book, and would really just throw it away, I couldn`t bare the mind of someone else reading it as well, and I would immanently delete it from the list.

Sam Katz

I find the inclusion of the Baatz book on this list absolutely absurd. As a longtime collector on Leopold and Loeb who appeared in two documentaries on the case, I bought the book and still haven't even been compelled to read it yet -- there wasn't one primary source listed in the index at all! That pretty much means Baatz has simply rehashed more than 75 years of other people's research on the case. The best book on "Dickie and Babe" is The Crime of the Century by Hal Higson, which includes all the research conduced by the original contract writer who had to abandoned the project because of family pressure from the same community in Kenwood Chicago Dickie and Babe hailed from. Higdon, primarily a sports writer, picked up the pieces and compiled a thoroughly well researched and compelling account of what was, at the time, considered "the crime of the century," before the Lindberg kidnapping and decades later the O.J. Simpson case stole that moniker. Considering that Nathan Leopold's parole attorney Elmer Gertz, who was the last living major player connected with "the boys," used to send everyone who contacted him my way, I never even heard of Baatz when his book was published. I cannot fathom what he could have possibly added to the arena of serious study on this landmark of crime.

Sam Katz

Pardon my typo ... I meant to write Hal Higdon. There should be an edit feature on this website, and there isn't.

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