New in must-read true crime

Vannessa Cronin on August 14, 2020

New must-read true crime

There's something about true crime that makes for compulsive reading. Maybe it's that sense of "there but for the grace of God go I," or maybe it's a latent fascination with those who are unencumbered with the kind of conscience that keeps the rest of us from stepping across that moral line.

In any case, we're looking forward to reading these upcoming true crime stories. Ranging from a rogue's gallery of Midwestern criminals to a teenager surviving both a brutal attack and her family's denial; from an involuntary heart transplant that spotlighted racial inequalities to an heiress turned activist art thief, these are true crime stories that promise to be wilder than fiction.

The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South by Chip Jones

With issues of race and healthcare in the headlines once again, the story of a Black man who went to a hospital in 1969 to get treatment for a head wound and ended up having his heart removed and transplanted into a white businessman will resonate. Chip Jones shows how a simple "accident" exposed decades of racial inequality. (August 18)

Dopeworld: Adventures in the Global Drug Trade by Niko Vorobyov

Like an even more gonzo Anthony Bourdain—traveling the world, exploring cultures and cuisine in Parts Unknown—former drug dealer turned journalist Niko Vorobyov has put together a travelogue: one that visits fifteen countries across five continents to trace the history of drugs around the world, and our complicated and evolving relationship with them. Call him Narco Polo, he tells us. (August 18)

Doctor Dealer: A doctor high on greed, a biker gang high on opioids, and the woman who paid the ultimate price by George Anastasia and Ralph Cipriano

Two former Philadelphia Inquirer reporters reveal the shocking details behind a headline that sounds more like it was ripped from a movie than real life. When beautiful April Kauffman, a well-known local radio personality, was discovered shot to death in her home, few suspected her husband James, a respected endocrinologist. But as the investigation dug deeper, secrets emerged, and those secrets involved sex, drugs, and biker gangs. (September 8)

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime by Debora Harding

With gallows humor and an indomitable spirit, Debora Harding writes of surviving a horrific abduction in Omaha when she was just fourteen. Assaulted and left for dead during an ice storm, she survived despite a deeply dysfunctional family whose only reaction was to tell her to move on. Suffering debilitating PTSD symptoms decades later, and looking to heal the trauma that had followed her into adulthood, she comes up with a radical idea: meet face-to-face with her attacker, as he sits in prison. (September 22)

Operation White Rabbit: LSD, the DEA, and the Fate of the Acid King by Dennis McDougal

Described as "acid's most famous martyr," Operation White Rabbit tells the story of the Acid King, William Pickard, a follower of Timothy Leary who was, according to the DEA, the biggest producer of LSD on the planet, and has two life sentences to show for it. McDougal traces the story of psychedelic drugs from the 1950s through the night when a DEA sting named “Operation White Rabbit” captured Pickard at an abandoned missile silo in Kansas. (September 28)

No Place Like Murder: True Crime in the Midwest by Janis Thornton

No Place Like Murder is a compendium of some of the Midwest's most scandalous murders, drawn from the 19th and 20th centuries. From Frankie Miller, the fiancé killer immortalized in the song Frankie and Johnny, to Chirka and Rasico, who made unhappy history as the first two Indiana men to die in the electric chair, the authors delve into everything from motives to apprehension, trials, and what became of them after. (September 29)

Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, a Deadly Disease by Jason Dearen

Thanks to medical detectives pulling out all the stops, two pharmacists ended up in a Boston courtroom, accused of unleashing deadly microbes on unsuspecting patients, and leaving over 100 people dead. Investigative journalist Jason Dearen exposes the story behind America’s deadliest drug contamination outbreak and the hubris, fraud, and legal loopholes that helped it happen. (October 6)

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper

Described as "a memoir of mirrors, misogyny, and murder," We Keep the Dead Close is the story of an ambitious Harvard student, Jane Britton, who was found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge apartment. Blamed for her own death (she'd reportedly been having an affair with a married professor who many believed killed her), efforts to catch her killer were half-hearted at best. Until a decade later, when another Harvard student became obsessed with solving Jane's murder. (November 10)

The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough House Art Heist by Anthony M. Amore

How does an heiress go from being presented to Elizabeth II as a debutante, to earning a PhD at Oxford, to joining the IRA and becoming the first woman to successfully pull off an art heist? An astonishing personal story and a fascinating art heist tale, The Woman Who Stole Vermeer promises to be a page-turner. (November 10)

One Day in August: Ian Fleming, Enigma, and the Deadly Raid on Dieppe by David O'Keefe

In just under six hours in August 1942, nearly 1,000 British, Canadian, and American commandos died in the French port of Dieppe. Speculation about reasons for the catastrophic mission included that it was a failed dry run for D-Day, but no one knew for sure. Now, historian O'Keefe uses recently declassified intelligence records to identify the architect of the disaster as James Bond creator—and British Naval Intelligence Officer—Ian Fleming. (November 10)

Readers may also want to check out some other topical true crime reads: The Spider: Inside the Criminal Web of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (October 6) promises to go behind the headlines to find out just how the late, disgraced financier's criminal enterprise worked. Made Men: The Story of Good Fellas (September 15) will be required reading for fans of Good Fellas, the movie hailed by critics as the best mob movie ever made. The book celebrates the 30th anniversary of the movie's release with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, and how it provided America with an in-your-face look at the modern mobster.

And for fans of Killers of the Flower Moon, author David Grann provides the foreword to Dennis McAuliffe's The Deaths of Sybil Bolton: Oil, Greed, and Murder on the Osage Reservation (November 10) which tells the story of how McAuliffe came to discover that his grandmother's early death was one of the many Grann wrote about in Killers, part of the "Osage Reign of Terror," in which white men married and murdered wealthy Native women for their money.

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