True Crime Titles on SparkNotes

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

Erik Larson’s 2003 bestseller The Devil in the White City is a work of historical nonfiction that tells the intertwined stories of Daniel Burnham, the architect of the 1893 World’s Fair, and H.H. Holmes, who is widely considered to be America’s first serial killer. Like Capote in In Cold Blood, Larson juxtaposes a portrait of a place and its inhabitants, in this case Chicago and the World’s Fair, with a series of brutal murders that shocked those near to them. Both books explore the similarities between upstanding, respected, visionary citizens like Burnham and Clutter with the lives of cold, disturbed killers. 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Published in 2017, David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is a true crime book that traces the complex plot to murder members of Osage Nation after oil deposits were discovered beneath their land in the 1920s. The book exposes the corruption, racism, and lawlessness at the heart of American frontier culture. As Capote explores the community of Holcomb through the lens of the Clutter murders, Grann uses the stories of a series of killings to tell a larger story of the nation.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Krakauer’s 1996 nonfiction book, Into the Wild, tells the gripping story of Christopher McCandless, who survived alone in the Alaskan wilderness for 113 days before dying of malnutrition and plant toxins. Krakauer traces McCandless’ steps in the book, rendering a narrative from his extensive research using novelistic techniques such as a structured plot, descriptive imagery, characterization, and figurative language, as Capote does throughout In Cold Blood