Understanding criminal behavior contributes a lot to our understanding of human behavior as well.

Criminals are not born, they are made. Understanding how a criminal mind works and what drove them to commit those crimes. Psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience educate us about criminal behaviors and how understanding them have helped our criminal justice system, in solving similar cases and meting out justice for heinous crimes such as homicide and murder. Below are 5 books that feature crimes and criminal behavior.

Mindhunter by John E. Douglas

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The book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit is a compilation of John E. Douglas’ years in the FBI, particularly with the Investigative Support Unit. Douglas spent about 25 years in the bureau as a special agent. He was one of the first criminal profilers. Mindhunter is a non-fiction crime book that John E. Douglass wrote with Mark Olshaker. The book features interviews with serial killers including Edmund Kemper, Robert Hansen, Wayne Williams, and Larry Gene Bell.

The Witness by Wanda Draper

The Witness: Unfolding the Anatomy of a Killer

Wanda Draper’s The Witness: Unfolding the Anatomy of a Killer features over a hundred capital murder cases. The Witness reads like a novel and shares Wanda Draper’s experience as an expert witness. In the book, she offers readers a peek at the minds of murderers. Wanda Draper is a behavioral scientist with over 30 years of experience as an expert witness in murder trials. She has also worked with families and children of murder victims on a developmental level to reconstruct the shocking sequences that lead to the murder. Lastly, The Witness gives us a background of how the criminal justice system in the United States works.

The Whistler by John Grisham

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John Grisham is known for his legal thrillers such as The Runaway Jury, The Firm, and The Rainmaker. In his book The Whistler, Grisham writes about the world of organized crime. The plot revolves around the legal and moral issues, specifically the world of gaming and casino. The Whistler takes us to the complex world of mafia where corruption and murder are essential for business. John Grisham shows a different type of criminal minds- lustful, malicious, and gruesome to the bone.

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

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Dr. Hannibal Lecter is perhaps the most notorious criminal mind in all of fiction. Brilliant, cunning and charismatic, Hannibal is a cold cannibalistic serial killer. In The Silence of the Lambs, a young FBI trainee reluctantly seeks the help of the famous forensic psychiatrist Lecter to capture another serial killer who kidnaps and murders overweight women. The Silence of the Lambs is the sequel to the second book after The Red Dragon. In this book, readers learn a great deal about Lecter’s mindset and how he reads other criminal minds. In 1991, a film adaptation was released by Orion picture starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster as Lecter and Agent Clarice Starling respectively.  

Anatomy of Evil by Michael H. Stone, M.D.

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Published in 2017, Anatomy of Evil discusses the concept of evil from a different perspective. Michael H. Stone, an American psychiatrist, and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In his book, Stone shows his own “22-level hierarchy of evil behavior” which is loosely based in Dante’s Inferno. Dr. Stone also discussed the multiple factors that push these violent individuals to commit such heinous crimes. Anatomy of Evil is a revolutionary book that includes Stone’s detailed biographies of more than 600 violent criminals including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and Dennis Rader.