I think in modern times, the concept of serial killers doesn’t exactly need an explanation. A relatively recent phenomenon which only seems more exacerbated by increasingly dense societies, it has attracted our morbid curiosity and attention like few things ever have.
Speaking from personal experience, since early childhood I’ve been exposed to various movies and documentaries centred on serial killers, both real and fictional, and I’m certain many of you have a similar truth to share. As terrifying and abhorrent as they can sometimes be, the mystery behind their existence and deviation is one we can’t and mustn’t turn away from.
Serial killers have been inhabiting the realms of literature for decades upon decades now, both in fact and fiction. Serial killer thrillers have gained the kind of popularity few literary genres can boast a claim to, and I think it’s because on top of our ghoulish fascination with the topic, we’re desperately searching for answers anywhere they might be found.
This category is dedicated to serial killer thrillers (look at true crime books for non-fictional ones), which is to say, fictional stories revolving around, you guessed it, serial killings, their perpetrators, victims, and investigators.
“The Five” by Hallie Rubenhold – Victims of London
Hallie Rubenhold has dedicated her education and life in general to the study of the past, and it seems she can never stop unearthing new and surprising facts looked over by our history books.
In The Five, she undertakes the unusual task of performing an in-depth examination of Jack the Ripper’s five known victims, exploring their lives, origins, and ultimate fates.
While Jack claimed fame in our collective memories, the moving stories of his victims were relegated to inexistence… until now.
“Curious Toys” by Elizabeth Hand – The Killer Under the Carnival’s Shadow
Elizabeth Hand knows it takes a bit more than the usual these days to stand out from the literary crowd, and in her novel Curious Toys she strives to accomplish this task.
Taking us back to 1915, we follow a young fourteen-year-old daughter of a carnival fortune-teller who bands together with an iconic artist to track down and unmask a serial killer nobody seems to know about.
“Her Silent Cry” by Lisa Regan – Carousel of Sorrow
Lisa Regan has earned much of her renown through the exceptional Detective Josie Quinn series, and the heroine returns to do what she does best in Her Silent Cry.
This time around, the case revolves around a young girl, Lucy, who seems to have disappeared into thin air while riding the carousel at Denton city park.
It doesn’t take long for a note from the kidnapper to be found in Lucy’s backpack… and soon after, her babysitter’s lifeless body.
“Metropolis” by Philip Kerr – Clues to Thin Air
Philip Kerr has created a character almost larger than life with his Bernie Gunther series, and in the posthumously published Metropolis, he goes back in time to explore the man’s origins, following his first few weeks on the Berlin Murder Squad.
As soon as he steps through the door, he sees a police force in chaos, having to contend not only with political gangs, but also a serial killer who keeps taunting the police with trails of clues leading to nowhere.
“Greeks Bearing Gifts” by Philip Kerr – The Killer who Never Left
Philip Kerr has blessed us with many promising and original adventures in his Bernie Gunther series, taking readers into the rarely-visited world of post-war Germany.
In Greeks Bearing Gifts we are once again partnered with Bernie Gunther as he goes undercover to investigate the insurance claims of a retired Wehrmacht soldier.
He believes his lost possessions were those of Greek Jews deported to Auschwitz, but before he can confront the old man someone makes a corpse out of him… someone who might very well be the most ruthless and unpunished Nazi assassin to survive the war.
“The Love Killings” by Robert Ellis – Crack the Serial Killer’s Code
Robert Ellis has begun a great thing with the Detective Matt Jones series, and you can witness his intellect and deductive powers first-hand as he goes on the hunt to track down the hitman who almost took his life earlier.
He soon becomes sidetracked from this dangerously personal task in favor of something much more depressing: catching a serial killer.
What’s more, this one seems unusually smart and capable, enough to match the grit and wit of the highly-trained and infinitely experienced Matt Jones himself. The three hunters prepare to face each other; the game is on.
“Innocent Bystander” by C. A. Asbrey – Bluebeard of the West
C. A. Asbrey has taken us on some captivating tours of the Wild West, presenting it in a different light than the one we’re used to.
In Innocent Bystander, the third book in The Innocents Mystery series, Abigail’s younger sister Madeleine has disappeared after marrying a notorious widower whose wives keep dying one after the other.
Knowing the man to be a Bluebeard, Abigail enlists once again the help of Nat and Jake to find her missing sister and unveil the cunning crimes of her husband.
“Tropic of Night” by Michael Gruber – The Miami Ritual
Today Michael Gruber stands as a respected and well-established award-winning author whose every new book is sought after with fervent anticipation.
Every author’s journey must start somewhere though, and for Gruber the debut came with his 2003 novel titled Tropic of Night.
In it, we follow the Cuban-American detective Jimmy Paz as he becomes embroiled in the investigation of a series of ritualistic killings which have taken Miami by storm.
The people are terrified, and as Jimmy inches closer to the truth he gets ever-closer to exposing the heart of darkness pulsating beneath the city.
“City of Echoes” by Robert Ellis – The Elite’s Ritual
Robert Ellis takes us deep into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles as he presents us with detective Matt Jones who unravels a web of intrigue, blood, deception and corruption starting from the bullet-ridden body of a man shot in what seems like the work of a serial robber.
But as we all know looks can be more than deceiving, and in a city where money flows faster than any river the rich and powerful will always find a way to stay in the shadows as their pawns fall one by one.
Matt Jones is cut from a different cloth though, and may be the one man to fear for those who deem themselves untouchable.