True Crime Audiobooks to Keep You Up All Night

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Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

The format that got me absolutely hooked on true crime was audiobooks. There’s something magical about having a real life mystery unfold while you’re washing the dishes or driving to work or sitting in your car for a few minutes just to hear the end of the chapter. Have I ever been late to an event because I missed an exit while listening to true crime audiobooks? Yes. Yes I have. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

An added bonus of true crime audiobooks is that if you are listening while driving, every time you come to a red light, the people around you get to hear a snippet of the wild story you’re listening to. I don’t make the rules, but it is always the most ridiculous and/or gruesome scene that plays in those moments.

Find below a massive collection of true crime audiobooks covering every corner of the genre: sexual assault, abuses of power, civil rights movements, identity theft, fraud, cults, drug cartels, prison life, and more. Yes, there’s murder. But not every true crime book is about serial killers. And not every true crime lover has an unhealthy relationship to the genre. Some of us just like a mystery book that is fact, not fiction.

True Crime Audiobooks

cover for asking for it by kate harding

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding

Kate Harding analyzes rape culture and the ways in which college women going out at night is similar to men going to battle — stick together and no one gets left behind. Estimates show only 5 in 100 rapes result in felony conviction. Five. Harding’s rage is felt through every minute of this powerful audiobook.

Catch and Kill Cover

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow

This true crime audiobook is absolutely brutal. At its core, it’s the story of Harvey Weinstein and his widespread abuse of women in Hollywood, but it’s also an investigative look at the fucked up society that allows men like Weinstein to carry on. Catch and Kill is a momentous piece of journalism.

Book cover for From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo

Vincent Chin was beaten to death in a bar fight in 1982. Anti-Asian American hate was rising, especially in Detroit as Japanese car companies were popular and many believed they were seemingly stealing American jobs. The two men who killed Chin were auto workers and received a measly $3,000 fine and three years of probation after pleading guilty to manslaughter. The sentence sparked outrage, protests, and the first federal civil rights trial involving a crime against an Asian American. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry is a thoroughly researched and suspenseful true crime audiobook about this case and the Asian American movement.

cover of i'll be gone in the dark michelle mcnamara

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara had one focus: finding the Golden State Killer. The serial rapist and murderer ravaged California for a decade, raping over 50 women and killing 12 people. And then he disappeared. The case was unsolved. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the thrilling work of years of poring over police records and investigations, and shortly after the book’s publication — and McNamara’s death — the Golden State Killer was arrested. If there’s only one true crime audiobook you listen to, this should be it.

A graphic of the cover of Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

Chanel Miller was known only as Emily Doe for years while she battled her rapist, Brock Turner, in court. Now, she gets to the in the world, freely, as herself. Know My Name is a stunning, devastating memoir of trauma and strength made even more powerful when being read in Miller’s voice.

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity cover

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton

Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up swirled in anxiety. When she was 11, her parents had their identities stolen and they lived the rest of their lives in fear. Despite moving and changing their personal information, the identity thief followed them wherever they went. This true crime memoir will keep you listening way past bedtime to figure out how and why this kept happening to this particular family.

cover of My Friend Anna gyby Rachel DeLoache Williams

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

My Friend Anna is such a wild ride. When Rachel became friends with Anna Delvey, things were great. The socialite was super good at scamming her friends out of thousands of dollars without them even noticing, and it wasn’t until Rachel was $62,000 in debt on her company credit card that she found out the truth. This audiobook is impossible to put down until you get to the end.

cover of Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones, showing the book title in enlarged white text against a blue background. in the middle of the page is an image of a chain with a female gender symbol pendant (a circle with a cross attached)

Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical Religious Cult by Faith Jones

Faith Jones didn’t just grow up within the Children of God — her grandfather was the founder. The extremist religious cult was notorious for its sex practices and allegations of abuse and exploitation. But Jones survived, stole books to educate herself, and at 23, finally got out. Sex Cult Nun is an absolutely fascinating and disturbing true crime memoir made even better on audiobook.

The Spy Who Couldn't Spell by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee book cover

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

Get ready for a real life spy thriller. The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell is the wild story of Brian Regan, a self-proclaimed CIA analyst with top secret clearance who had access to all kinds of defense systems, weapons depots, and underground bunkers. He sent coded messages to the Libyan consulate, offering to sell classified U.S. information. Those messages landed with the FBI, where special agent Steven Carr spent years tracking down the traitor. The thing is, Regan is dyslexic, so his codes were even harder to crack than normal.

the sun does shine cover

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin

In 1985, at 29 years old, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with capital murder for a crime he didn’t commit. Being a poor Black man in Alabama, he didn’t have the same justice system as the white people around him. So he spent nearly 30 years on death row. The Sun Does Shine is his incredible memoir of the power of hope in the darkest of times.

There Are No Dead Here by Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno cover

There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia by Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno

With the 1993 death of Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug lord, Colombians hoped for the end of dangerous and deadly drug cartels. But by the late ’90s, right-wing paramilitary groups with ties to the cocaine industry came in, leaving corruption, rape, and torture in their wake. There Are No Dead Here follows the stories of three ordinary Colombians — a journalist, a human rights activist, a prosecutor — who valiantly stood up to the violence and revealed the corruption, despite having assassins on their tails.

This Is Ear Hustle cover

This Is Ear Hustle: Unflinching Stories of Everyday Prison Life by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods

Based on the popular podcast created and produced in the basement of California’s San Quentin State Prison, This Is Ear Hustle tells more unheard stories about life behind bars. Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods — who was serving 31 years to life before his sentence was commuted in 2018 — expose the realities of prison life with the personal narratives of incarcerated people. The print book has illustrations that the audiobook lacks, obviously, but it’s a moving listen regardless.

cover image for Trailed

Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles

In 1996, two free-spirited and experienced hikers were brutally murdered while backpacking in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Despite a joint investigation by the FBI, Virginia police, and National Park Service, the case was unsolved. Kathryn Miles became obsessed with the case, discovering the harsh reality of crime in national parks and the incompetence and crime-scene sloppiness that leads to cases like this one going cold. The part of Trailed that really shines is the history of National Parks and commentary on hiking safety.

Unmasked by Paul Holes cover

Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes

Paul Holes is the lauded detective who tracked down the Golden State Killer, and the true crime world has been waiting for his memoir. Unmasked covers his life of solving the toughest cold cases and the toll the work took on his life. It’s an incredibly personal book, detailing his anxieties and losses as well as supreme career wins.

Written in Bone by Sue Black cover

Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind by Sue Black

Sue Black is a forensic anthropologist and anatomist who studies human remains to determine a person’s identification and cause of death. Working its way down the human skeleton, starting at the skull, Written in Bone details the kinds of information our bones contain. Did you know if that’s all that’s left, a person’s approximate age, sex, height, and weight can be determined? Complete with anecdotes from the wildest cases she’s worked on, this true crime audiobook is absolutely fascinating.

For more true crime, be sure to scope out this list of must-read true crime authors, these historical true crime books, and these true crime books for newbies to the genre.