True Story

Spooky Reads, Serial Killers, and Kindle Deals in Politics

Now that it’s finally October, I’ve found myself turning towards nonfiction of the creepy variety. I’m kind of a chicken, but give me some good true crime or spooky history, and I’ll happily sleep with the light on so I can enjoy it. Two of my favorite seasonally-appropriate nonfiction books are The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

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The Poisoner’s Handbook, a tale of “murder and the birth of forensic science in Jazz Age New York,” follows chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler as they try to figure out the science behind murder by poison. This one will have you looking twice at the next cup of coffee your significant other serves you.


There’s a lot of spooky true crime out there, but In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s original “nonfiction novel” on the murder of a family in Holcomb, Kansas is one that I distinctly remember kept me awake at night. His reconstruction of the crime from the point of view of the killers is chilling, and it’s clear why this book, in particular, has become a classic of the genre.


This year, I’ve got two new creepy books on my radar. The first is The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke (Oct. 10 from Del Ray). Mahnke, creator of the Lore podcast, is publishing his first book on the history of terrifying creatures like werewolves, poltergeists, vampires, and vengeful spirits. If you’re a fan of Lore, Rioter Katie McClain rounded up a few of her favorite creepy books, including three nonfiction titles.

And in true crime, I am looking forward to Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell (Oct. 10 from Liveright). Eatwell uses new evidence and historical records to revisit the unsolved 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short, “an aspiring starlet from Massachusetts who had been lured west by the siren call of Hollywood.” Her body was found, mutilated, in a public park, but despite the sensation of the case, her killer was never found.

I’m curious, dear readers – do you have any favorite creepy, crawly, or spooky topics you turn to during the fall season? Hit me up with your suggestions and recommendations. And with that, on to the news of the week.

Follow Up: H.H. Holmes Really is Dead

Earlier this year, experts planned to exhume the body of H.H. Holmes, the Chicago serial killer at the center of Erik Larson’s 2003 book The Devil in the White City. Descendants made the request as part of a History Channel show, looking into whether Holmes may have escaped death. Turns out, he didn’t. Dental records show that the body buried in a pine box that was filled with cement is actually Holmes. Whew.

Chicago Tribune photo

Already, Books Coming in 2018?

A couple of releases set for 2018 caught my attention recently. Journalists Michael Isikoff (chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News) and David Corn (Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones) will release a book on “the controversies surrounding Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin and Russia’s influence.” The book is tentatively called The Russian Connection. I’m intrigued, since the long history of Trump’s connections to Russia doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it may deserve.

The other book I had no idea was coming, but now I’m super curious about, is a true crime book written by Patton Oswalt’s late wife, Michelle McNamara. At the time of her unexpected death in 2016, McNarama was working to investigate the Golden State Killer, “an unknown assailant who police believe was responsible for 50 rapes and 10 murders in California in the 1970s and ’80s.” I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will include an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by Oswalt.

Kindle Deals in Politics and Social Science

This week, I’ve got some political and social science ebooks for you to check out:

Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie for $1.99

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke for $1.99

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward for $1.99

And that’s all for this week. I’ll be back next week with an early October new books list – there are A LOT of titles coming out this month that I’m excited to highlight.

As always, you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram @kimthedork and via email at Happy October!