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12 Best crime-solving books for wannabe detectives

Summertime begs for a stack of mysteries and thrillers. Not sure where to start, gumshoe? Add these 12 crime-solving reads to your book list for a page-turning summer.

1. Blood Will Out

What’s it like to befriend a sociopathic murderer? Author Walter Kirn accidentally found out when he made acquaintances with a man who called himself Clark Rockefeller. Blood Will Out is Kirn’s first-person account of discovering that his new friend was a horrifying and violent criminal.

2. Along Came a Spider

Every James Patterson mystery novel is a page-turner, but Along Came a Spider is especially engaging and thrilling with its take on high-stakes detective work, mixed with hot romance. A book lover’s dream, no?

3. One for the Money

If you’re looking for a mystery series that doesn’t require a whole lot of thought, check out the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. One for the Money is the first installment of the series, and it’s a lot of fun with essentially no effort or critical thinking required. Now, that’s a summertime read.

4. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

You’ll never believe that The Devil in the White City is, in fact, a historical non-fiction. The book regales us with the history of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago — with appearances by Susan B. Anthony, Buffalo Bill Cody and Thomas Edison — and a horrifying gas-chamber hotel erected by a psychopathic murderer to lure fair-goers to their deaths. True story, believe it or not.

5. The True American

You’ll seldom find a non-fiction crime novel as redemptive and beautiful as The True American, the story of a hate crime victim’s efforts to save his assailant from execution on the Texas death row in the years following 9/11. It’s a crime novel for the reader who wants to believe in the beauty of the human spirit.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Even if you saw the movie remake, pick up Stieg Larsson’s original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a heart-pounding journey through Sweden — and into journalism, justice and a startling look at misogyny.

7. Kitty Genovese: The Murder, The Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America

The true story of Kitty Genovese’s murder in 1964 has captured the attention of Americans and psychology students for years. Here, author and biographer Kevin Cook gives the real story of her murder and provides a fascinating look at crime, witnesses and justice in America.

8. Double Indemnity

This famous crime novel, based on a real 1920s murder by a femme fatale and her lover, is an oldie but a goodie. Who knew life insurance policies could be so scandalous?

9. The Lovely Bones

What happens to families devastated by unsolved crimes? The Lovely Bones, by author Alice Sebold, takes a compassionate, kind and honest look at grieving and fractured families — all while plodding towards a resolution of devastating crime.

10. The Black-Eyed Blonde

Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde picks up where the original author of Philip Marlowe novels left off back in 1959. If you’re a longtime fan of crime novels, you’re in for a treat with Black’s updated handling of the beloved Marlowe series.

11. The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Set in World War I, The Mysterious Affair at Styles is famous author Agatha Christie’s first published novel, and it’s a good one. With this historical mystery, you’ll get a great look at what it was like to solve crimes before the days of CSI and DNA testing.

12. Snow Falling on Cedars

Finally, Snow Falling on Cedars is the kind of crime novel that will make you turn pages with a perpetual lump in your throat. The story takes a peek at American history, love, loss and the human spirit in a way you won’t soon forget.

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