Two paths diverged in a wood, and one was creepy as all get-out. If you love reading and listening to true crime stories, chances are youâ€™re already wondering what went down on that dark twisted lane. If youâ€™re scared already, these next audiobooks may…not be for you. But if you have exit strategies for every room, shout “do not go in there!” at movies, or stand in awe of whistle blowers and dogged investigative reporting, then you’re bound to become obsessed with one—if not all—of these frightening, heart-breaking, and mind-bending audiobooks. Listen to clips below, and always, always trust your instincts.
The story of an Alabama killer and the true-crime case that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee. She spent a year in town reporting, and many more years working on her own version of the case. Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.
“Narrator Hillary Huber uses a slow, even pace and authoritative tone in her narration of this twisted true-crime story set in Alabama…the strange twists and unbelievable outcome, and Huber’s steady and professional delivery, are a pleasure.”—AudioFile
Now a Netflix Original Documentary
In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada, Oklahoma was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they came to suspect two men, Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder. With no physical evidence, the prosecutionâ€™s case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this audiobook will shock you.
“[Craig] Wasson evokes the persona of a small-town newspaperman, providing a potent sense of immediacy and reflecting the pain and passion of Grishamâ€™s electrifying nonfiction account. His vocal coloration hoarsens as the prisoner ages and weakens or shouts in anger, defiance, or frustration to reflect varying emotions. Wassonâ€™s reading is persuasive and compelling. His compassion infuses the tragedy with outrage when the judicial system so crassly violates civil rights.”—Booklist
The Innocent Man is now a Netflix Original Documentary Series. For this and other audiobooks-to-screen adaptations, click here.
From award-winning New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, a stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions.
In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing account of the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with.
“[Matthew] Blaney’s sober voice is measured and careful, highlighting the subject matter even as he delivers a powerful performance.”—AudioFile
Not all true crime stories involve murder, and white collar crimes have no shortage of sociopathy. Now a New York Times Audiobook Bestseller, Bad Blood is the inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the one-time multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes—now the subject of the HBO documentary The Inventor—by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end.
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout who promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. There was just one problem: The technology didnâ€™t work. Bad Blood is a riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.
“Will Damron is the perfect choice as narrator. His precisely articulated style makes the entire effort sound as if it is a cloak-and-dagger spy novel.”—AudioFile
Read by the author! The incredible true story of the decade-long quest to bring down Paul Le Roux, the creator of a frighteningly powerful Internet-enabled cartel who merged the ruthlessness of a drug lord with the technological savvy of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
â€śA tour de force of shoe-leather reportingâ€”undertaken, amid threats and menacing, at considerable personal risk.â€ť—Los Angeles Times
Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Jeffrey Dahmer. The names of notorious serial killers are usually well-known; they echo in the news and in public consciousness. But most people have never heard of Israel Keyes, one of the most ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” Keyes was a predator who struck all over the United States.
American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and to the limitations of traditional law enforcement.
Click here for more true crime-on-audio recommendations.