Picking the best True Crime audiobooks for this year was a difficult task for Mystery Tribune team. There were simply too many great releases from talented authors, read by some of our favorite performers to choose from. Nevertheless, we came up with our top 8 favorite titles: Join us as we celebrate the most resonant voices of 2019 in the True Crime sub-genre.
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff (Author, Narrator), Georgia Hardstark (Author, Narrator), Paul Giamatti (Narrator).
The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the number-one hit podcast My Favorite Murder!
Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.
Midnight Son by James Dommek Jr. (Author, Narrator), Josephine Holtzman (Author), Isaac Kestenbaum (Author).
James Dommek, Jr., an Alaska Native writer and musician, sheds new light on a real-life mystery that pits Native American folklore against the US justice system. In the vast Alaskan Arctic, legend has it there once lived a mythic tribe-Iñukuns-that only existed in rumors and whispers.
This changed forever when an actor-turned-fugitive, Teddy Kyle Smith, had an encounter that brought Iñukuns from myth to reality. Smith was an aspiring actor with a promising career until it all came quickly crashing down with a gunshot, a manhunt, bloodshed, and other frightful events.
The story of Smith’s tragic downfall has long haunted James Dommek, Jr., the great-grandson of the last of the Iñupiaq story-tellers. Midnight Son is his journey in discovering who Teddy Kyle Smith was, what he did, and what he really saw. Along the way, listeners will experience the soul of the real Alaska as narrator Dommek, Jr. brings this multilayered and sprawling tale to life.
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Author), Amy Landon (Narrator)
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. He buried “kill kits” – cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools – in remote locations across the country. Over the course of 14 years, Keyes would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits.
He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home to Alaska, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.
When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years – uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist.
A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake – many of which remain unsolved to this day.
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.
Call Me God: The Untold Story of the DC Sniper Investigation by Jim Clemente (Author), Tim Clemente (Author), Peter McDonnell (Author), Maureen O’Connell (Narrator).
Inside Michael’s craft supply store, cashier Ann Chapman rings up another customer. Then it happens. A loud crack; a gust of wind; the light in register five goes dark.
Over the next 23 days, the entire DC area will be thrust into a reign of terror unprecedented in American history. Sniper attacks targeting and murdering everyday citizens will bring the entire region to its knees as a nation still reeling from the recent attacks of 9/11 and the anthrax scare is forced to confront a new type of brutal assault – this time in their own backyard.
As law enforcement grapples with the mass carnage and chaos, the media’s ravenous 24-hour cycle amplifies the very real fear while steadily pumping new theories and bad leads onto a paralyzed public desperate for it all to end.
But who can stop it? And exactly how? Call Me God is the never-before-told story of the fascinating and turbulent investigation that led to the diabolical and elusive killers’ capture – one that pitted protocol against instinct, sacred institutions against individual insight.
Told firsthand by those few who had the vision and expertise to solve it, and including a fascinating look into the behavioral, ballistic, forensic, and electronic analysis vital to cracking the case, FBI agent brothers Jim Clemente (former FBI behavioral profiler) and Tim Clemente (former FBI counterterrorism expert) take us through every facet and flaw of a nationwide manhunt that pressure tested nearly every aspect of law enforcement capabilities – and its glaring vulnerabilities.
Anchored by harrowing accounts from victims, intimate conversations with family members of those deceased, and candid accounts from those who knew the perpetrators best, relive the haunting events of the DC Sniper attack and piece together a true crime phenomenon, the impact of which can still be felt today.
Solitary: Unbroken by four decades in solitary confinement. My story of transformation and hope. by Albert Woodfox (Author), JD Jackson (Narrator).
Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement – in a six-foot by nine-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana – all for a crime he did not commit.
That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the US and around the world.
Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement…all for a crime he did not commit.
Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early 20s to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden.
Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, 16 more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.
Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Author), Matthew Blaney (Narrator).
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 38-year-old mother of 10, 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”. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the IRA was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it.
In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress – with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.
…Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.
Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing audiobook on 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. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also IRA members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders.
From radical and impetuous IRA terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious IRA mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his IRA past – Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.
The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI’s Original Mindhunter by John E. Douglas (Author), Mark Olshaker (Author), Jonathan Groff (Narrator).
Performed by Jonathan Groff, star of the hit Netflix show Mindhunter, and featuring an exclusive conversation between John E. Douglas and Jonathan Groff at the end of the audiobook
In The Killer Across the Table, John E. Douglas, the legendary FBI criminal profiler, number one New York Times best-selling author, and inspiration for Netflix’s Mindhunter, delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process and divulging the strategies used to help crack some of America’s most challenging cases.
The Killer Across the Table is narrated by Jonathan Groff, who plays Holden Ford on Mindhunter, the character inspired by John E. Douglas. The FBI’s pioneer of criminal profiling, former special agent John Douglas has studied and interviewed many of America’s most notorious killers – including Charles Manson, “Son of Sam Killer” David Berkowitz, and “BTK Strangler” Dennis Rader – trained FBI agents and investigators around and the world, and helped educate the country about these deadly predators and how they operate, and has become a legend in popular culture, fictionalized in The Silence of the Lambs and the hit television shows Criminal Minds and Mindhunter.
The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.
Twenty years after his famous memoir, the man who literally wrote the book on FBI criminal profiling opens his case files once again. In this riveting work of true crime, he spotlights four of the most diabolical criminals he’s confronted, interviewed and learned from. Going deep into each man’s life and crimes, he outlines the factors that led them to murder and how he used his interrogation skills to expose their means, motives, and true evil. Like the hit Netflix show, The Killer Across the Table is centered around Douglas’ unique interrogation and profiling process.
With his longtime collaborator Mark Olshaker, Douglas recounts the chilling encounters with these four killers as he experienced them – revealing for the first time his profile methods in detail. Going step by step through his interviews, Douglas explains how he connects each killer’s crimes to the specific conversation and contrasts these encounters with those of other deadly criminals to show what he learns from each one. In the process, he returns to other famous cases, killers, and interviews that have shaped his career, describing how the knowledge he gained from those exchanges helped prepare him for these.
A glimpse into the mind of a man who has pierced the heart of human darkness, The Killer Across the Table unlocks the ultimate mystery of depravity and the techniques and approaches that have countered evil in the name of justice.
Chase Darkness with Me: How One True Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen (Author, Narrator), Karen Kilgariff – foreword (Author), Karen Kilgariff (Narrator).
Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked. Put together the pieces. Identify the suspect.
Journalist Billy Jensen spent 15 years investigating unsolved murders, fighting for the families of victims. Every story he wrote had one thing in common – it didn’t have an ending. The killer was still out there.
But after the sudden death of a friend, crime writer Michelle McNamara, Billy became fed up. Following a dark night, he came up with a plan. A plan to investigate past the point when the cops have given up. A plan to solve the murders himself.
Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us…
In Chase Darkness with Me, you’ll ride shotgun as Billy identifies the Halloween Mask Murderer, finds a missing girl in the California Redwoods, and investigates the only other murder in New York City on 9/11. You’ll hear intimate details of the hunts for two of the most terrifying serial killers in history: his friend Michelle’s pursuit of the Golden State Killer which is chronicled in I’ll Be Gone In The Dark which Billy helped finish after Michelle’s passing, and his own quest to find the murderer of the Allenstown 4 family.
And Billy gives you the tools – and the rules – to help solve murders yourself.
Gripping, complex, unforgettable, Chase Darkness with Me is an examination of the evil forces that walk among us, illustrating a novel way to catch those killers, and a true crime narrative unlike any you’ve listened to before. With a foreword by Karen Kilgariff of My Favorite Murder.