Must-Listen Crime Audio Books

February 15, 2012

There’s something sort of romantic about an unconventional life lived outside of the law, tempting fate and the forces of civil authority in order to seize the day (and everything you can get your hands on by hook or by crook). So it’s no surprise that a whole genre is devoted to this nefarious segment of society, complete with crime drama, historical fiction, and even documented accounts of what it means to flirt with disaster by joining the criminal element. And whether you prefer your criminal mischief embellished or you’re in it for just the facts, ma’am, here are a few audio books that can deliver the seedier side of the human condition.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. There’s no denying that Dostoyevsky was a master at crafting a fully realized story that blended equal parts humanity, psychology, sociology, and in this case, criminology. The story of Raskolnikov, a starving student who ends up killing a deplorable pawnbroker, is not just about a man who gets nabbed for a crime. It is about the psychology of a person pushed to his limit, committing a crime that he deeply regrets. Of course, those that like a crime caper will also enjoy the cat-and-mouse that ensues as Raskolnikov tries to outrun his fate (in the form of police inspector Petrovich). But this deep and entrancing exploration of the consequences of crime, both internal and external, will help listeners to appreciate the absolute command Dostoyevsky had over his medium.
  2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Most people are familiar with this recounting of the Kansas killing of the Clutter family in 1959 mainly because of film adaptations. But Capote recounts the events (including the murders and the aftermath) with such skill and cunning that listening to the audio book is a must for anyone interested in the chilling tale. Especially noteworthy is the author’s ability to incite a melting pot of emotions within the listener, from horror and derision at the inexplicable crime to sympathy for men caught up in a culture of violence.
  3. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell. Perhaps the most notorious criminal in history was a man whose name is still unknown. But that doesn’t stop forensic scientist and bestselling author Cornwell from building a compelling case as to the identity of the man behind the moniker. Although much of the evidence is circumstantial, Cornwell presents a fascinating fiction that may just turn some listeners into true believers.
  4. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy. One of the most sensational crimes ever to go unsolved, the case of murdered and mutilated actress Elizabeth Short is grippingly rendered in historical fiction by the renowned author of other popular crime dramas like L.A. Confidential and White Jazz (both available on audio book, consequently). It doesn’t get much more hard-boiled than this gritty tale of a woman driven by ambition to take risks that ultimately led to her gruesome death, followed by a manhunt of massive proportions and a mystery that appears unsolvable. You’d practically need a degree from one of the top criminal justice schools to untangle this one.
  5. The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer by Philip Carlo. You don’t have to enroll in the top online criminal justice programs to know that the mafia has a long history of criminal activity, from bootlegging to bumping off rivals. But it would be difficult to point out a more fitting example than Richard Kuklinski, a hitman who by his own account murdered more than 200 men under contract. A cold-hearted killer to the core, he viewed himself as a consummate businessman, one who would make his victims suffer if the price was right. Rarely has there been a criminal of this caliber, fictional or otherwise, which is why this account based on interviews conducted with the subject make for a must-listen experience for any crime-novel junkie.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: