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True Tales of Murder and Madness for Every Reader

This post originally appeared on Book Riot

I’m already on the record over over at Book Riot as being a fan of the subtitle – the longer and more absurd the better. Two words that I cannot resist in a subtitle are “murder” and “madness,” especially when they’re used together. Usually you find “murder” and “madness” slapped on history books to jazz up what otherwise might seem like boring stories… and the marketing trickery works on me every time.

Here are a few books that have caught my eye:

destiny of the republic by candace millardFor murder, madness and the presidency, check out Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, the story of James Garfield’s rise from a poverty-stricken childhood in Ohio to his 200 days as president of the United States.

For murder, madness and architecture, check out The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson, a story about the a deranged serial killer and the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.

For murder and madness in small doses, check out The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession by David Grann, a collection of essays about “people whose fixations propel them into unfathomable and often deadly circumstances.”

For murder, madness and doctors, check out The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber, a true crime story about a registered nurse implicated in the deaths of 300 patients.

tinseltown by william j mannFor murder, madness and the entertainment industry, check out Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William Mann (Oct. 14 from Harper), a new story about an unsolved Hollywood murder in the 1920s.

For murder, madness and religion, check out Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge by Don Lattin, the inside story of The Family International.

For murder, madness and a dysfunctional Puritan family, check out The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards by Ava Chamberlain, the inside story of a “minor villain” in the life of a great Puritan theologian (this book is on the academic side, so be aware of that if you pick it up).

And as a bonus title on murder, madness and the Oxford English Dictionary, check out The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, which was originally titled The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words.

What are some of your favorite tales of murder and madness?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Katie @ Words For Worms September 17, 2014, 11:09 am

    Haha! I love this! I never noticed how many subtitles contained “murder and madness!”

    • Kim September 17, 2014, 8:02 pm

      It’s really funny how many books use those words, especially history books.

  • BermudaOnion(Kathy) September 17, 2014, 11:20 am

    I love books like that.

  • jenn aka the picky girl September 17, 2014, 12:22 pm

    I’ve read the first two and LOVED them. But of course, murder, madness, and mayhem will get me every time. 🙂

    • Kim September 17, 2014, 8:03 pm

      Destiny of the Republic is high on my list, but I keep bumping it for other books… gotta change that!

  • bookmammal September 17, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Destiny of a Republic is an incredible read! Narrative nonfiction at it’s best! I actually just ordered that author’s River of Doubt–about Theodore Roosevelt–and can’t wait to dig into that one.
    I also really enjoyed Devil in the White City.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End September 17, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Hahahaha, this is an excellent post!

  • Emma @ Words And Peace September 17, 2014, 9:12 pm

    this is so cool. I got curious and typed the 2 words in the search engine of a famous online book retailer. I was amazed at the results, seeing so many books with both words in the title. thanks!

    • Kim September 21, 2014, 1:43 pm

      It’s kind of ridiculous how often they’ll show up in book titles. I was surprised to have found so many just within the last few years.

  • Ann @ Books on the Table September 18, 2014, 6:36 am

    I must love murder and madness because I’ve read (and enjoyed) almost all of these books — great list. One book that doesn’t include the words “murder” and “madness” in the subtitle is Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith — but it IS about murder and madness.

    • Kim September 21, 2014, 1:43 pm

      That is a good one — super unsettling.

  • Sandy September 18, 2014, 9:06 am

    I cannot resist Murder and Madness! You’d think I was a sociopath! I’ve only read Devil in the White City, but this book would end up on my top 10 list of all time favorite books. I’m going to have to mark this post because I want to read all of them!

    • Kim September 21, 2014, 1:44 pm

      My Google history got a little weird while I was putting this list together 🙂