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Narrative Nonfiction to Rival Any Great Thriller Novel

Who doesn’t love a good thriller or true crime story? Whether a tale of murder and mayhem, a page-turning whodunit, dangerous family secrets, or a bit of good old fashioned espionage – there’s nothing quite like a great page-turner. Occasionally, however, life can prove stranger – and more thrilling – than fiction. Some of the best thrillers just happen to lurk in the pages of the nonfiction world. What better way to change up your usual suspenseful binge than to dive into the pages of a larger-than-life, stranger-than-fiction tale? Here are a few of our favorites.

  1. 1
    Hidden Valley Road Book Cover Picture
    Hidden Valley Road Book Cover Picture

    Hidden Valley Road

    by Robert Kolker

    Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins–aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony–and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?
    Hidden Valley Road Book Cover Picture
    Hidden Valley Road Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  2. 2
    More Than You Can Handle Book Cover Picture
    More Than You Can Handle Book Cover Picture

    More Than You Can Handle

    by Miguel Sancho

    When a two-month-old baby falls ill, his apparently ordinary symptoms turn out to signal a rare and lethal immune deficiency. For parents Miguel Sancho and Felicia Morton, the discovery that their son, Sebastian, has chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) upends their lives and leaves the family with few options, all of them terrifying. With Sebastian at constant risk of deadly infection, they spend the next six years in some degree of self-quarantine, with all its attendant anxieties and stressors, as they struggle to keep their son alive, their marriage intact, and themselves sane. Sancho’s riveting tale of the diagnosis and treatment of his son’s illness takes us deep inside the workings of the immune system, and into the radically innovative treatment used to repair it.
    More Than You Can Handle Book Cover Picture
    More Than You Can Handle Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

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  3. 3
    Empire of Pain Book Cover Picture
    Empire of Pain Book Cover Picture

    Empire of Pain

    by Patrick Radden Keefe

    A grand, devastating portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, famed for their philanthropy, whose fortune was built by Valium and whose reputation was destroyed by OxyContin, by the prize-winning, bestselling author of Say Nothing.
    Empire of Pain Book Cover Picture
    Empire of Pain Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $32.50

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  4. 4
    The Skies Belong to Us Book Cover Picture
    The Skies Belong to Us Book Cover Picture

    The Skies Belong to Us

    by Brendan I. Koerner

    In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of ’60s idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week, using guns, bombs, and jars of acid. Their criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than when shattered Army veteran Roger Holder and mischievous party girl Cathy Kerkow managred to comandeer Western Airlines Flight 701 and flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom—a heist that remains the longest-distance hijacking in American history.
    The Skies Belong to Us Book Cover Picture
    The Skies Belong to Us Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  5. 5
    On the Trail of the Serpent Book Cover Picture
    On the Trail of the Serpent Book Cover Picture

    On the Trail of the Serpent

    by Richard Neville and Julie Clarke

    Charles Sobhraj remains one of the world’s great conmen, and as a serial killer, the story of his life and capture endures as legend. Born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and Indian father, Sobhraj grew up deprived of a sense of identity, moving to France before being imprisoned and stripped of his multiple nationalities. Driven to floating from country to country, continent to continent, he became the consummate con artist, stealing passports, smuggling drugs and guns across Asia, busting out of prisons and robbing wealthy associates. But as his situation grew more perilous, he turned to murder, preying on Western tourists dropping out across the 1970s “hippie trail,” leaving dead bodies and gruesome crime scenes in his wake, triggering an international manhunt that put him at the top of INTERPOL’s most wanted list.
    On the Trail of the Serpent Book Cover Picture
    On the Trail of the Serpent Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  6. 6
    The Central Park Five Book Cover Picture
    The Central Park Five Book Cover Picture

    The Central Park Five

    by Sarah Burns

    On April 20th, 1989, two passersby discovered the body of the “Central Park jogger” crumpled in a ravine. She’d been raped and severely beaten. Within days five black and Latino teenagers were apprehended, all five confessing to the crime. The staggering torrent of media coverage that ensued, coupled with fierce public outcry, exposed the deep-seated race and class divisions in New York City at the time. The minors were tried and convicted as adults despite no evidence linking them to the victim. Over a decade later, when DNA tests connected serial rapist Matias Reyes to the crime, the government, law enforcement, social institutions and media of New York were exposed as having undermined the individuals they were designed to protect. Here, Sarah Burns recounts this historic case for the first time since the young men’s convictions were overturned, telling, at last, the full story of one of New York’s most legendary crimes.
    The Central Park Five Book Cover Picture
    The Central Park Five Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.95

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  7. 7
    The Girls of Murder City Book Cover Picture
    The Girls of Murder City Book Cover Picture

    The Girls of Murder City

    by Douglas Perry

    The Girls of Murder City Book Cover Picture
    The Girls of Murder City Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

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  8. 8
    My Dark Places Book Cover Picture
    My Dark Places Book Cover Picture

    My Dark Places

    by James Ellroy

    In 1958 Jean Ellroy was murdered, her body dumped on a roadway in a seedy L.A. suburb.  Her killer was never found, and the police dismissed her as a casualty of a cheap Saturday night. James Ellroy was ten when his mother died, and he spent the next thirty-six years running from her ghost and attempting to exorcize it through crime fiction. In My Dark Places, our most uncompromising crime writer tells what happened when he teamed up with a brilliant homicide cop to investigate a murder that everyone else had forgotten–and reclaim the mother he had despised, desired, but never dared to love. What ensues is a epic of loss, fixation, and redemption, a memoir that is also a history of the American way of violence.
    My Dark Places Book Cover Picture
    My Dark Places Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  9. 9
    Killers of the Flower Moon Book Cover Picture
    Killers of the Flower Moon Book Cover Picture

    Killers of the Flower Moon

    by David Grann

    In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.
    Killers of the Flower Moon Book Cover Picture
    Killers of the Flower Moon Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

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  10. 10
    Who Killed These Girls? Book Cover Picture
    Who Killed These Girls? Book Cover Picture

    Who Killed These Girls?

    by Beverly Lowry

    The facts are brutally straightforward. On December 6, 1991, the naked, bound-and-gagged, burned bodies of four girls–each one shot in the head–were found in a frozen yogurt shop in Austin, Texas. Grief, shock, and horror overtook the city. But after eight years of misdirected investigations, only two suspects (teenagers at the time of the crime) were tried; their convictions were later overturned and detectives are still working on what is now a very cold case. The story has grown to include DNA technology, coerced false confessions, and other developments in crime and punishment. But this story belongs to the scores of people involved, and from them Beverly Lowry has fashioned a riveting saga that reads like a novel, heart-stopping and thoroughly engrossing.
    Who Killed These Girls? Book Cover Picture
    Who Killed These Girls? Book Cover Picture

    Mass Market Paperback
    $8.99

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  11. 11
    The Brothers Book Cover Picture
    The Brothers Book Cover Picture

    The Brothers

    by Masha Gessen

    On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 264 others. In the ensuing manhunt, Tamerlan Tsarnaev died, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured and brought to trial. Yet even after the guilty verdict and the death sentence, what we didn’t know was why. Why did the American Dream go so wrong for two immigrants? How did such a nightmare come to pass?
    The Brothers Book Cover Picture
    The Brothers Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  12. 12
    The Wicked Boy Book Cover Picture
    The Wicked Boy Book Cover Picture

    The Wicked Boy

    by Kate Summerscale

    In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London — for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man’s capacity to overcome the past.
    The Wicked Boy Book Cover Picture
    The Wicked Boy Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  13. 13
    The Daughters of Kobani Book Cover Picture
    The Daughters of Kobani Book Cover Picture

    The Daughters of Kobani

    by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

    Based on years of on-the-ground reporting, The Daughters of Kobani is the unforgettable story of the women of the Kurdish militia that improbably became part of the world’s best hope for stopping ISIS in Syria. Rigorously reported and powerfully told, The Daughters of Kobani shines a light on a group of women intent on not only defeating the Islamic State on the battlefield but also changing women’s lives in their corner of the Middle East and beyond.
    The Daughters of Kobani Book Cover Picture
    The Daughters of Kobani Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

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  14. 14
    Life's Edge Book Cover Picture
    Life's Edge Book Cover Picture

    Life’s Edge

    by Carl Zimmer

    Whether he is handling pythons in Alabama or searching for hibernating bats in the Adirondacks, Zimmer revels in astounding examples of life at its most bizarre. He tries his own hand at evolving life in a test tube with unnerving results. Charting the obsession with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and how Coleridge came to believe the whole universe was alive, Zimmer leads us all the way into the labs and minds of researchers working on engineering life from the ground up.
    Life's Edge Book Cover Picture
    Life's Edge Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

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