11 Gripping Books Like The Devil in the White City

For those who like a side of history with their true crime.

books like devil in the white city featured image

The Devil in the White City  tells the true story of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair and the serial-killing doctor who used it to lure his victims to their deaths. Author Erik Larson expertly weaves the mayhem behind the Fair’s rushed construction with his account of the young doctor, who constructed a nearby hotel replete with a dissection table, glass chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. 

While this nonfiction book reads like a thriller crime novel, it does impart genuine historical information and offers readers a vivid glimpse into what life was like in Chicago during this time period. 

If you’ve already read The Devil in the White City and enjoyed it, or if the sound of this type of book strikes your fancy, then continue reading to discover our selection of books similar to The Devil in the White City. 

best true crime 2017

Killers of the Flower Moon

By David Grann

After discovering oil beneath the surface of the Native American reservation in Osage, Oklahoma, the reservation's inhabitants became the richest people per capita in the world—until they started to be killed off, one-by-one. Those who dared investigate turned up murdered, and as the death toll climbed, the FBI took up (and badly bungled) their first major homicide investigation.

Written and meticulously researched by New Yorker staff writer David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon is the hauntingly true story of one of the most gruesome crimes in American history and how it influenced the beginnings of the FBI.

books like midnight in the garden of good and evil

In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote

In Cold Blood recreates the story of the Clutter family, who in 1959, were fatally shot in close range at their home in Holcomb, Kansas. Originally published as a four-part series in the New Yorker magazine, Truman Capote’s pièce de résistance is the most iconic nonfiction novel of all time. Capote went to Holcomb himself to gather the basis for his writing, and became so enmeshed in the investigation that he was left haunted by his own novel.

This passion is reflected in Capote's writing, which generates nail-biting suspense and even “astonishing empathy” for the murderers—whom Capote came to know personally. This American classic is “a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.”


Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

By Candice Millard

Discover the story behind the assassination of the 20th president of the United States, James Adam Garfield. Four months after his inauguration, Garfield was shot in the back of the head by Charles Guiteau, a deranged man who believed Garfield owed him a political debt. 

Astonishingly, Garfield survived the initial shooting—but unfortunately succumbed to a secondary infection 79 days later. Thoroughly researched and “epic in scope,” The Destiny of the Republic brings alive a forgotten chapter of U.S. history.”

the disappearance of the beautiful nell cropsey

The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey

By Bland Simpson

In November of 1901, a 19-year-old named Nell Cropsey disappeared from her home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Every stop was pulled out to find her, including bloodhounds, detectives, divers, and even a psychic. Bland Simpson, an Elizabeth City native, reconstructs the story in the voice of three different narrators: Nell’s sister, Ollie; famous newspaper editor, O. W. Saunders; and Jim Wilcox, Nells “beau” who was considered to be a suspect in the case.

Based on interviews, court records, and newspaper accounts, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey reads like a novel while presenting a slice of North Carolinian history.

serial killer books

The Monster of Florence

By Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi

Douglas Preston is a bestselling thriller author who fulfilled his life’s dream and moved his family to Italy while researching his latest novel—only to discover that their idyllic home had been the scene of a gruesome double homicide. Thus began his investigation, alongside Italian journalist Mario Spezi, into the notorious Monster of Florence: a “demonic” serial killer who murdered 14 young Italians between 1974 and 1985.

This book recounts their search and chilling interview with the man they believe committed the crimes—before Preston was ordered to leave the country and Spezi was thrown in jail, accused of being the Monster of Florence himself!

books about female killers

The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago

By Douglas Perry

Did you know that Chicago, the Broadway musical, is based on a true story? In 1924, men turning up dead in Chicago was nothing surprising. But Maurine Watkins, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, took special interest in two particular murderers: “Stylish Belva” Gaertner and “Beautiful Beulah” Annan. 

Watkins developed a fascination with these two women who shot their lovers, only to be lavished with male attention while they were in jail awaiting trial. The Girls of Murder City paints a rich picture of Chicago “in the spirit of Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City” and “simultaneously presents the freewheeling spirit of the age and its sober repercussions.”

best biographies

The Professor and the Madman

By Simon Winchester

This “masterfully researched and elegantly written” book describes the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and the man who submitted more than 10,000 definitions from his room at an asylum for the criminally insane. The history of how the dictionary came to be is fascinating, and the perplexing story of Dr. W. C. Minor keeps readers hooked.  

victims who knew their killers

Under the Banner of Heaven

By Jon Krakauer

Under the Banner of Heaven investigates the murder of a young Morman wife and her 15-month-old infant as a means to expose the isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities, where “the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God.” 

John Krakauer closely scrutinizes Ron and Dan Lafferty, the two brothers who committed the murder upon the belief that it was a commandment from God. While doing so, Krakauer historically contextualizes Mormonism and raises questions about the nature of religion itself.


The Midnight Assassin

By Skip Hollandsworth

Beginning in December of 1884, the burgeoning city of Austin, Texas was terrorized for a full year by a series of murders “equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London's infamous Jack the Ripper.” Dubbed “The Midnight Assassin,” the person responsible for these murders lacked an obvious M.O., using a variety of gnarly weapons to kill a variety of different people. 

Over a dozen men were arrested in connection to these crimes, and when Jack the Ripper struck London in 1888, London authorities did indeed wonder whether The Midnight Assassin had ventured across the pond. Learn about this sinister case and the early days of Austin from Skip Hollandsworth, the Texas Monthly journalist who “brings this terrifying saga to life.”

the hotel on place vendome

The Hôtel on Place Vendôme

By Tilar J. Mazzeo

The Hôtel Ritz on Paris’s affluent, cobblestoned Place Vendôme evokes thoughts of luxury, elegance, and serenity. But in June of 1940, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. At the time, the Hôtel Ritz was the only luxury hotel permitted to stay open during the Nazi occupation of Paris, making it a headquarters for high-ranking Nazi officials.

In The Hôtel on Place Vendôme,Tilar J. Mazzeo takes readers on a trip through the decadent hall of this hotel to paint a portrait of a moment of Parisian history, one full of “glamor, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance.”

A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana

A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana

By Jane Simon Ammeson

Nettie Herskovitz was a wealthy widow when she met her charming fifth husband, Harry Diamond. In reality, Harry was a bootlegger and a pimp who thought his marriage to Nettie would be his biggest hustle yet. But Harry was wrong, and when Nettie quickly saw through his ruse, he shot her four times—once at point blank range in the back of the head—in an attempt to secure his inheritance. 

Harry tried to blame the attack on their innocent African American chauffeur, only to discover that Nettie had survived to tell the tale. This book reveals one of the most sensational trials of the era, and all of the “sin, sex, high-society scandal, and even the interference of the Ku Klux Klan” it took to get there.