We love murder — or, rather, we love stories about it, judging from the success of so many true-crime podcasts (Criminal, Up and Vanished, My Favorite Murder) and TV shows such as Mindhunter, The Mind of a Murderer, and Netflix’s creepy Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Who knows why: Maybe we want to gain a sense of control over what frightens us by trying to understand it, or simply like the heart-pumping feeling of fear when it’s from the safety of our couches.
Whatever the reason, a well-told true-crime story — especially one about how dogged investigators puzzle out the killer — makes for totally mesmerizing reading. If you are up for it, lock your doors, and curl up with one of these recent page-turners.
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan
This brilliantly reported book is about a monstrous serial killer named Israel Keyes, a stunningly cold-blooded Alaskan construction worker who spent some 14 years killing random people around the country, first burying “kill kits,” consisting of necessary tools and cash near his victims for convenient body disposal and escape. Callahan tells the story from the point of view of the investigators, detailing how they eventually pieced together enough clues to pinpoint Keyes as the man likely responsible for what the author calls “the greatest string of unsolved disappearances and murders in modern American history.” He committed suicide in jail in 2012 at age 34. The nightmare-inducing story is not for the squeamish, but it helps to know from the get-go that the guy is six feet under.
For entertainment news, advice and more, get AARP’s monthly Lifestyle newsletter.