5 Must-Reads for True Crime Fans

The true crime genre has captivated audiences everywhere, inspiring countless television shows, documentaries, podcasts, and more. Here at Agate, we have published a range of books on the subject. Check out some of our favorites below, but be warned—these reads are not for the faint of heart!


The Leopold and Loeb Files

By Nina Barrett

In 1924, University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were young, rich, and looking for a thrill. The thrill? Murdering 14-year-old Bobby Franks in cold blood.

In The Leopold and Loeb Files, Nina Barrett draws on confessions, interrogation transcripts, psychological reports, and more to offer a comprehensive look at the events surrounding this grisly murder. Functioning as both artifact and literature, Barrett’s book explores issues of morality, sanity, sexuality, religion, parental grief and responsibility, remorse, and the use of the death penalty—themes that remain relevant to this day.


Gangsters & Grifters

By The Chicago Tribune Staff

From infamous mob boss Al Capone to serial killer William Heirens, Chicago’s criminal underworld has a rich, and chilling, history.

Curated from the Chicago Tribune’s vast archives, Gangsters & Grifters is a collection of images from a time when photographers were given unprecedented access to crime scenes. These fascinating photos feature infamous criminals—and the gruesome scenes they left in their wake. This book is a must-have for readers looking to learn more about the seedy underbelly of early 20th-century Chicago.


He Had It Coming

By Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather

In 1924, there were more than a dozen women awaiting trial in Cook County Jail, most accused of murdering their husband or lover. Four of them would serve as the inspiration for the characters of Chicago, one of the longest-running shows on Broadway.

He Had It Coming is a one-of-a-kind exploration of the women on “Murderess Row” and the Tribune reporter, Maurine Watkins, who immortalized their stories. This compilation of recently-discovered photos, original newspaper clippings, and new analysis from present-day Tribune writers delves into the fascinating history of women in crime during Chicago’s Jazz Age.


Drew Peterson: The Tribune Files

By The Chicago Tribune Staff

When Drew Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found drowned in a bathtub in 2004, her death was ruled an accident. When Peterson’s fourth wife went missing in 2007, officials grew suspicious.

Drew Peterson: The Tribune Files details the case and trial of Drew Peterson, a Bolingbrook, Illinois police officer who was convicted of murdering his third wife and is widely suspected of killing his fourth. This true-crime ebook features years of Chicago Tribune reporting on the events, as the case grew from a local story into a national phenomenon.


Who Killed the Candy Lady?

By James Ylisela, Jr.

43 years ago, multimillionaire Helen Vorhees Brach walked out of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and was never seen again.

Written by veteran journalist Jim Ylisela, Who Killed the Candy Lady? explores the mysterious disappearance and unsolved murder of Helen Brach—the heiress to the E.J. Brach & Sons candy fortune. Featuring never-before-seen documents, interviews, and insider perspectives, this book reveals all the sordid facts behind this unsolved murder mystery.

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