5 Insightful Books About Famous Serial Killers For Documentary Fans

In lockdown, binge-watching Netflix documentaries has become the new normal, and the platform and other streaming services have stepped up.

Streaming sites are constantly creating new documentaries, so we can stay entertained.

One common topic for these shows is serial killers, which are a popular obsession for many.

Killing multiple people is deeply fascinating for many people, as it’s something that seems so abhorrent to us that we can’t understand how, and more importantly why, people do it.

That’s why we love to watch serial killer documentaries and get an insight into the motives behind the crimes and how murderers are able to get away with committing them for so long, in many cases.

After you’ve watched loads of documentaries, it’s easy to want to learn even more, which means reading up about serial killers and the psychology behind their crimes.

There are many true crime books out there, and many books focus on serial killers in particular and offer insight into their lives before and after they started their killing sprees.   

If you’re enjoying watching documentaries to learn more about serial killers, their victims and the crimes they committed, then here is a selection of five of the most interesting books about them.

I’ve chosen books about some of the most famed serial killers, as well as a couple on less renowned murderers who, nonetheless committed cruel crimes that deserve to be remembered and studied.

5. The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy: The inspiration behind the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, this book brings a unique perspective to the Ted Bundy murders. While many books about serial killers are written either from the perspective of relatives of the victims or criminology experts, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy is written by Elizabeth Kendall, who dated Bundy for six years. Later editions include additional information by Kendall’s daughter Molly, who Bundy spent a lot of time with while he was dating her mother. The book explores the relationship between the two and how Bundy’s façade of charm and wit hide a barbaric and depraved killer with a true contempt for his fellow human beings.

4. Killing For Company: The Case Of Dennis Nilsen: The inspiration behind the ITV drama starring David Tennant, this award-winning book from Brian Masters was created with the full corporation of Nilsen himself. He killed at least 15 people in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the Muswell Hill area. By taking advantage of society’s ignorance and paranoia about homosexuality and the fact that young gay men were tragically overlooked at the time, he was able to ensnare his victims. As society at the time didn’t care about them, he was able to snatch them out of their lives and commit depraved acts. Masters uncovers a man who is obsessed with death and pain, and feels little remorse for his vile crimes. The book provides unique insight into the mind of a horrendous serial killer.

3. The Jolly Roger Social Club: A True Story of a Killer in Paradise: Investigative journalist Nick Foster explores the serial killer known as ‘Wild Bill’. Real name William Dathan Holbert, the American ex-pat and conman killed at least five other Americans living in the beautiful city in Panama called Bocas del Toro. The book explores Holbert’s history of lying and conning others out of money, as well as the nature of Bocas del Toro and why the region was the perfect place for Wild Bill and his wife to search for their victims. Their murders were purely for financial gain; the pair of them earned a lot of money and built up an impressive real estate portfolio thanks to their copious crimes, which included the slaying of the teenage son of one victim who was selling his home. Foster uses his storytelling skills to paint a picture of a beautiful but flawed paradise where criminals were able to easily entrap their victims and carry out their crimes with little notice for several years. If you want to learn more about this often overlooked serial killer, then this is the book for you.

2. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper: OK, so this isn’t strictly about a serial killer. Instead, it’s an exploration of the lives of the five women who were killed by famously uncaught serial killer known as Jack The Ripper. While the popular media is keen to focus its attention on who the Ripper was, it rarely provides any information about his victims. When it does, it’s often highly inaccurate: for example, only one of the women was actually a prostitute, as this insightful book shows. Popular culture might make them all seem like streetwalkers, but several of them were from very respectable backgrounds, and writer Hallie Rubenhold shares their story respectfully in this must-read for serial killer enthusiasts.

1. My Friend Dahmer: As a former friend of Jeffrey Dahmer, the renowned serial killer who butchered 17 men and boys and committed atrocious acts on their corpses, John Backderf, known as Derf, is in a unique position to shine a light on the early life of this vile killer. Backderf is a graphic artist, who shares his story of his time trying to connect with the teenage Dahmer in the form of a graphic novel. It’s an inventive way to learn more about the early life of a killer and the weird, uncanny actions he committed that foreshadowed his future murders. The images are creative and perfectly complement this tantalising true tale of a teenage friendship with a boy who later grew into a twisted killer.

One thought on “5 Insightful Books About Famous Serial Killers For Documentary Fans

  1. Pingback: Five Books About Unsolved Mysteries To Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat – The Dorset Book Detective

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