A Dagger Passes Through the Best Books on Criminal Psychology, and a Revolver on that Book

Best Books on Criminal Psychology

Are you looking for the Best Books on Criminal Psychology? You may find many types of books very different from each other, such as books on forensic psychology, analytical psychology, Buddhist psychology, cognitive psychology, criminal psychology, personality psychology, sports psychology, emotional psychology and so on. Another aspect to go deeper when buying a psychology book is understanding the motivation for choosing one book over another, especially when there are several dozen titles in the same category. So, it is obvious that you will get confused while buying in accordance with your certain preferences.

In this article you will find your solution as it comes up with the best books on criminal psychology written by some renowned authors and academics. Reading these best criminal psychology books to expand your knowledge of criminal behavior can be very useful if you dedicate yourself to the world of Criminology, Psychology, Law or work in the field of law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, if you don’t want to be professional in this field yet are attracted to these topics and want to better understand the functioning of the minds of criminals, the following books are best criminal psychology books for beginners that cover a variety of criminal psychology stories and real life case studies.



Editor's Rating


1. Criminal Psychology

2. Introduction to Forensic & Criminal Psychology

3. Investigative Psychology

4. The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

5. Criminal Behavior


Criminal Psychology: What is it?

Crime is a widespread problem all over the world. Though it is really complex to find out its root and consequences, someone has to move forward. In fact, studying criminal behavior benefits us in addressing the causes behind the crime and combating it from different areas. 

Criminal Psychology, also called Criminological Psychology, is a branch of Psychology that is responsible for analyzing and understanding the thoughts, behaviors, objectives and actions that move a person to commit a crime and also the post-crime reactions of the criminal. Additionally, it also analyzes the victim’s behavior patterns. Criminal psychologists do research to understand criminal behavior, which is any type of antisocial behavior that can be punishable according to the law.

Showing Criminal Psychology in Best Books on Criminal Psychology

Generally, when addressing a criminal mind, there are three major aspects that are taken into account in the formation of criminality: social, environmental and genetic factors. Social factors include aspects of the broader environment like social connections beyond the home. Children’s childhood and adolescence represent the offender’s most intimate and familiar environment, so environmental factors are closely related to childhood and adolescence. And lastly, the term genetics describes those characteristics that are naturally inherent in individuals that predispose them to act and react as they do.

Top 40 Best Books on Criminal Psychology Review

In the following the recommendations show the best books on criminal psychology that have the best reviews and are widely sold which you can hardly skip. Some of these books are also recommended by academicians for research and case study purpose in the law schools. An adequate description of each recommended book will guide you to match your choice. 

1. Criminal Psychology: Nature, Nurture, Culture

Author: Laurence & Miller

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd

Publication Year: April 6, 2012 (1st edition)

Hardcover: 784 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7.25 x 2 x 10 inches

Criminal psychology studies ordinary and unusual psychology concepts in order to predict, understand, and control criminal behavior and criminal activity. Criminal Psychology: Nature, Nurture, Culture contains an introduction to criminal psychology from the classroom to the courtroom in a concise but in-depth manner. 

There are five chapters in the book. These chapters cover the behavior of criminals and its origins, the major types of mental illnesses, the topics related to death, crimes related to sexual assault and the psychodynamics of a spectrum of typical crimes.

Each chapter contains illustrative tables and sidebars that outline the chapter’s primary subject with cases from real-life cases and the media, and investigate discussions encompassing specific topics in criminal psychology. The author writes the book in a very concise and engaging manner that became a certain guide and source of reference for criminal psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, judges and professionals of law enforcement. 

2. RedHanded

Author: Suruthi Bala & Hannah Maguire

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Running Press Adult

Publication Year: September 14, 2021

Hardcover: 256 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.35 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches

Based on Suruthi Bala and Hannah Maguire’s acclaimed podcast with the same title, “RedHanded” analyzes real-life actual crime cases in order to determine definitively and for everyone if killers are made or born.

This criminal psychology book utilizes the dramatic and fascinating accounts of killers to explore society’s failings as a whole. Rather than focusing on convicted criminals or fallen heroes, this book examines in depth the history, context and motivations of different killers and how this relates to social issues such as poverty and gender inequality.

Combining theory drawing on real life cases with hilarious, yet raw and relatable anecdotes, Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala deliver a brisk, entertaining, and informative exploration of the criminal mind. They use their unique brand of irreverent humor to answer some of the most perplexing questions about criminals today.

3. Criminal & Behavioral Profiling

Author: Curtis R. Bartol & Anne M. Bartol

Language:‎ English

Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc

Publication Year: August 29, 2012 (1st edition)

Paperback: 368 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7 x 0.82 x 10 inches

Criminal and Behavioral Profiling provides an up-to-date overview of this intriguing field. It is packed with cutting-edge research and case studies, covering many different topics including: – the history of criminal profiling – the process of criminal profiling – geography, demographic and biographical dimensions of a criminal – psychological concepts involved in criminal profiling.

The book also identifies pitfalls that many practitioners fall into while conducting their work, such as confirmation bias and circular thinking. In addition, there are over twenty cases illustrating various profiling errors and discussion questions to help teach students how to avoid these errors during the process. With stunning visuals and thought-provoking course material, Criminal & Behavioral Profiling helps students understand the best practices, major pitfalls, and psychological concepts involved in this fascinating field.

4. Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit

Author: John E. Douglas

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Year: October 31, 1995 (First Edition)

Hardcover: 384 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.75 x 1.25 x 9.75 inches

Mindhunter is the first book any serious student of criminology or true crime will want to read. In this book, John Douglas tells the inspiring and unsettling tale of more than two decades of his career investigating some of America’s most horrific serial killers as well as mass murderers—redefining our understanding of how to catch them and predicting their psychological tendencies. 

As a FBI expert in criminal behavior, Douglas explains how killers and rapists are caught through the profiling system he created. His expertise is legendary among law enforcement, so much so that he was asked by the FBI to profile various offenders. 

5. The Big Book of Serial Killers

Author: Jack Rosewood

Language:‎ English

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Year: June 19, 2017

Paperback: 442 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7 x 1 x 10 inches

The Big Book of Serial Killers contains some of the most horrifying stories of serial killers of history who are more like monsters, vampires and cannibals but unlike mythical beasts,  they are people surrounding us in search of human flesh until darkness falls. No doubt, it is one of the best books on serial killers psychology.

This encyclopedia of Serial Killers contains stories and analysis of a broad range of 150 most notorious as well as little-known serial killers of several countries worldwide like John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Martha Rendell and so on. Each file of the serial killer covers the motive, the background, the murder incident details, the trial and punishments as well as the psychological analysis behind the crime. The collection of information regarding the most vicious murderers of the world in this criminal psychology book  is clear and concise, and can undoubtedly be an ideal source of reference.

6. The Big Book of Serial Killers Volume 2

Author: Jack Rosewood & Rebecca Lo

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Independently published

Publication Year: November 21, 2019

Paperback: 435 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7 x 0.98 x 10 inches

The first volume of The Big Book of Serial Killers received a huge success and was widely sold all over the world. Therefore, the author came up with its second installment that includes another 150 detailed case studies of terrifying serial killers worldwide. It is one of the best true crime books.

Serial killers are all around us and some of the sickest serial killers are open for discussion and examination. This book picks up where Volume 1 left off and new hyenous serial murders. Each entry includes a detailed biography of the killer giving insight into their early life and the reasons why they committed their crimes. 

This book is a non-traditional approach to serial killers. It includes all of the terrifying details of their crimes, but also provides exclusive information such as who they were before they became killers, their lives and what led to their life of murder not seen in any other books. Fill your bookshelf with this new collection of serial killer facts, trivia and photos.


Author: Brian Berry

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Independently published

Publication Year: October 23, 2019

Paperback: 52 pages

Dimensions:‎ 8.5 x 0.12 x 11 inches

Relive some of the world’s most heinous crimes from history’s most infamous murderers with Bloody Alphabet. Expertly created by a top historian and featuring colorful, eye-catching artwork that brings these illustrations to life, these pages will relive the crimes with precision and accuracy like never before.

Blood Alphabet is a true crime book. Inside this nifty little coloring book, you’ll discover 23 most infamous serial killers of the world, presented in detailed and stunning illustrations. With high-resolution images printed on one-sided pages to avoid bleeding and allow easy tear-out, and a perfect size for purse or briefcase carry, it is the ideal gift – or just something nice to have – for those who are fascinated by the monsters around us.

8. Introduction to Forensic & Criminal Psychology

Author: Dennis Howitt

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Pearson Education UK

Publication Year: January 18, 2018 (6th New edition)

Paperback: 720 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7.87 x 1.18 x 10.43 inches

Forensic and criminal psychology is a fast-moving, challenging and highly rewarding field. Introduction to Forensic & Criminal Psychology examines the psychological, social, environmental and biological factors that contribute to harming others, victimization and violence. This revised edition includes new material on legal and forensic issues within the courtroom and the employment of psychologists within law enforcement bodies. 

The 6th edition of this one of the best books on criminal psychology is updated with contemporary research as well as classic material. It includes new ideas regarding forensic memory, drug addiction, robbery, treatment for sexual offenders, and more. 

This forensic psychology book introduces students to the key areas of research in this rapidly developing field. The book begins by considering the important role that psychology has to play in understanding issues related to violence, crime and delinquency. Key concepts, core readings and ‘key questions’ direct students towards the most relevant research and encourage them to think beyond the textbook.

9. Criminal Profiling

Author: Brent E. Turvey

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Academic Press

Publication Year: May 24, 2011 (4th edition)

Hardcover: 728 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7.75 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches

The 4th Edition of Criminal Profiling introduces the deductive method of profiling which is a different form of profiling that doesn’t involve standardized, statistical profiles. Rather, it focuses on an in-depth investigation, exploring the nature and behavior of criminals in order to solve real crimes to do criminal profiling. Every incident is analyzed from a unique perspective of behavior and relationships. The author demonstrates the most important concept: enthusiasm for investigating and studying facts.

New Features of this edition consist of new case studies accompanied with reasoning and logic, different profiling methods based on non-evidence that relies upon analyzing the behavior and nature of criminals to resolve crimes, new chapter on homicides in mass, and the profiling method and interviewing of terrorists. 

10. The Gift of Fear

Author: Gavin De Becker

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Year: June 1, 1997 (1st edition)

Hardcover: 334 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 1 x 9 inches

A bestseller in hardcover, The Gift of Fear, arms us with the powers of self-defense in an increasingly dangerous world, teaching us how to read and respond to universal “danger signals” that we should already be aware of—but maybe aren’t.

The book is one of the best books about serial killers psychology and your essential guide to “reading” the people around you—and helping you make life saving decisions. With startling real-life examples, Gavin de Becker reveals how you can spot danger before it is too late. Learn how to depend on your own instincts; decide whether to confront a person or avoid him; and protect yourself against people who might pose a threat, such as stalkers or violent ex-partners. By knowing what to look for and what you should do, you’ll gain the power to make it through any situation safely and confidently.

11. The Anatomy of Evil

Author: Michael H. Stone

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Publication Year: July 28, 2009

Hardcover: 430 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.39 x 1.37 x 9.28 inches

Psychiatrist Michael H. Stone was an early pioneer in the study of behaviors that can lead to serial killing. In “The Anatomy of Evil,” he gives readers a glimpse into the minds and backgrounds of some of America’s most notorious killers. He discusses these perpetrators of unspeakable acts ranging from Ted Bundy‘s desire for power, Charles Manson‘s need for adulation, and Jeffrey Dahmer‘s quest for self-preservation to Dennis Rader‘s insatiable curiosity and John Wayne Gacy‘s society-approved lust. Each chapter details something new about the complexity of evil, ultimately shedding new light on what makes us who we are.

Dr. Stone threads the stories of 600 murderers throughout history who fit into 22 behavior levels of evil. If a society hopes to curb violence and aggression, Stone posits that it must also focus on coping and healing systems.

This criminal behavior book uncovers the phenomenon of original, extreme evil. It examines a number of case histories that reveal the emergence of hatred, rage and destruction from deep within ordinary people, from childhood through to adulthood. It focuses especially on the reasons behind this behavior and whether it can be prevented by better understanding why it occurs. The author examines how an increased understanding of the causes of evil will affect the justice system and people’s everyday lives, including treatment options for those found to be responsible for heinous crimes.

12. The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

Author: James Bonta & D.A. Andrews

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Routledge

Publication Year: October 27, 2016 (6th New edition)

Paperback: 470 pages

Dimensions:‎ 7.5 x 0.75 x 9.5 inches

The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, 6th Edition provides the latest information on a range of theories and research into this complex topic. Using a widely-regarded approach that balances theory with applied guidance and direction, the authors explain how criminal actions are motivated by factors in three broad areas: general personality risks, cognitive social learning factors, and opportunities to act upon personal predispositions. Throughout the text, they demonstrate how the RNR model can be applied during risk assessment, treatment planning and implementation, and follow-up to monitor changes in an offender’s mental state, behavior, and institutional adjustment.

Injecting new yet relevant examples, the Sixth Edition of this authoritative book on the psychology of criminal conduct helps students fully understand the relationship between psychological theories and findings about criminal behavior. The authors’ clear, accessible approach to theory and research proves beneficial for scholars, researchers, and criminal justice practitioners alike.

13. Inside the Criminal Mind

Author: Stanton Samenow

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Crown

Publication Year: November 4, 2014 (3rd edition)

Paperback: 416 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.19 x 0.76 x 7.99 inches

Twenty years after its initial publication, Inside the Criminal Mind presents a fascinating profile of the criminal mindset that breaks traditional myths about the origins of and solutions for crime. Having gained a wealth of knowledge and insight during the past twenty years, Stanton E. Samenow presents a thoroughly revised version of his famous work, focused on crimes in the limelight today – white collar crime and political terrorism to stalking and domestic violence.

It is one of the top criminal psychology books which is the result of three generations of Dr. Samenow’s work with criminals – from youthful offenders to veteran criminals and even killers. Based on his experience as a forensic psychologist, the writer of this criminal psychological book argues in favor of discouraging crime rather than explaining it away or excusing it. He contends that we need to look beyond our efforts to prevent crime through economic or legislative measures and instead focus on destroying the mind-set that lies at the core of criminality.

This acclaimed book presents a multi-modality treatment approach for criminals. It argues for programs based on understanding the criminal mind. This understanding will heighten our empathy, our sense of fairness, and our anger at what is happening to our society.

14. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Author: Michel Foucault

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Vintage Books

Publication Year: April 25, 1995

Paperback: 333 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.2 x 0.76 x 8 inches

Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault, was published in 1975 and written to serve as an introduction to his ideas regarding the historical development of discipline. The book is a relatively short work, but it covers vast amounts of criminal psychology stories with important details in historical eras. The first two chapters establish a chronological yet comprehensive history of how prisons were used through the Middle Ages and into the post-industrial era.

15. Investigative Psychology

Author: David V. Canter & Donna Youngs

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Wiley

Publication Year: November 9, 2009 (1st edition)

Hardcover: 496 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches

Investigative Psychology takes a multidisciplinary approach to the investigation and prosecution of crime. It opens with the basic concepts of investigative psychology, discussing how to link offenses to offenders, and how offenders can be profiled. The second section discusses the role of science in linking offenders to specific crimes. Here, it covers case management issues concerning where crimes are committed and when they will be repeated. The issues of predicting where an offender lives and investigating their past are also discussed in detail. 

The final section considers the courtroom use of these profiling methods, critically examining the needs of the court system and what analytical psychologists can contribute, with an emphasis on trial applications which have been used successfully in police investigations. This fascinating new area has yet to find its academic home, but Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and the Analysis of Criminal Action is the first text written specifically on this important subject.

16. The Psychopath Whisperer

Author: Kent A. Kiehl PhD

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Crown

Publication Year: April 22, 2014 (1st edition)

Hardcover: 304 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.33 x 1.11 x 9.54 inches

Psychopaths are everywhere, among celebrities and criminals, in the White House and Congress, in movies and literature—and on the street. Even though they’re all around us, most of us never suspect they exist. And that’s because psychopaths have a way of hiding themselves from view. For this reason, we have to look for their biological bases in the brain, which are illuminated by Dr. Kent Kiehl’s groundbreaking research.

Dr. Kiehl’s book blends interesting case studies with insightful scientific analysis of psychopathy. It is well-structured and well-written, using a conversational tone throughout but always remaining professional and authoritative. The Psychopath Whisperer opens new areas of research that should help us design more effective treatment approaches for people diagnosed with psychopathy, while also enlightening the general reader about this fascinating disorder.

17. The Anatomy of Motive

Author: John Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Year: June 15, 1999

Hardcover: 320 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.5 x 1 x 9.75 inches

In The Anatomy of Motive, former FBI profiler John Douglas and coauthor Mark Olshaker attempt to provide insights into the minds of some of history’s most notorious killers. Drawing on examples, they discuss common reasons behind serial killings and mass murders. 

The book also explores the motivation and behaviors of serial killers, mass murderers, and spree killers, from the standpoint of a retired profiler with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. They also highlight the traits that allow sociopaths to blend in with society, including their emotional detachment and tendency to manipulate those around them. And they present a number of new psychological theories that may be able to explain why seemingly normal people descend into madness.

18. Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters

Author: Peter Vronsky

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Berkley Books

Publication Year: October 5, 2004

Paperback: 412 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.01 x 1 x 8.95 inches

Written by true crime historian, Peter Vronsky, Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters provides an indepth examination of the psychology, investigation, and culture behind serial murder. It is one of the best books about serial killers.

Beginning with the first filed case in ancient Rome, the book goes on to examine famous cases such as the Victorian Jack the Ripper through to more recent cases such as Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. Serial Killers also examines what Vronsky classifies as ‘serial rampage’ cases such as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (the Columbine tragedy), who murdered students and teachers at their school for no apparent reason.

Serial Killers addresses serial murder from an entirely new perspective, examining the various killers and the various types of crimes they commit in strikingly revealing detail. The author analyzes the psychological and cultural factors surrounding serial murder and their bearing on the macabre puzzle of “the method and madness of monsters.”

19. Without Conscience

Author: Robert D. Hare

Language:‎ English

Publisher: The Guilford Press

Publication Year: January 8, 1999 (1st edition)

Paperback: 236 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches

Without Conscience presents the vivid analysis of Robert Hare on the world of psychopaths and offers startling new insights into the minds of these criminals. He explains why they do what they do, how they fool people, their average physical appearance and personality traits, why they are considered such good actors, and why only half of them are behind bars. Untangling the complex web of lies, deceit, and manipulation of psychopaths, he provides fascinating new case histories and shows readers how to identify and protect themselves from these predators.

The Psychopath Next Door? More likely, the psychopath is your boss, sibling, spouse or lover – someone who seemingly is normal and pleasant, yet who can anonymously commit acts of heartless, cold-blooded violence without the slightest concern for their victims. Based on 25 years of distinguished scientific research, this criminal behavior book presents a compelling portrait of these dangerous men and women based on Dr. Hare’s unparalleled work with psychopathic serial killers, rapists, arsonists and other predators in prisons and jails across North America.

20. Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach

Author: Curt Bartol & Anne Bartol

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Pearson

Publication Year: February 5, 2016 (11th edition)

Paperback: 672 pages

Dimensions:‎ 8.6 x 1.7 x 10.95 inches

Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach is a comprehensive and contemporary approach to the topic of crime that is both accurate and accessible. It is written by experts with a long track record of providing quality material to students, and to those whose jobs involve working with criminals at the risk of their own safety. This book strips away pop-culture myths about the motives of criminal behavior, which allows us to see the root causes of crime. 

Students will learn about a range of crimes and the types of people that commit them. The eleventh edition of this textbook also covers a variety of topics that are critical to everyone who lives in today’s society and shares a liberal arts perspective on psychology that is both entertaining and enlightening. It is considered by many readers as one of the best books on criminal behavior. 

21. Dangerous Personalities

Author: Joe Navarro & Toni Sciarra Poynter

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Rodale Books

Publication Year: January 16, 2018 (Reprint edition)

Paperback: 256 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 0.65 x 9 inches

Navarro has long served as a special agent for the FBI, analyzing and profiling potential threats from terrorists to serial killers. Now he turns to assessing ordinary people who’ve gone off the deep end and lost their grip on reality. 

Narcissists have distorted self-images that come across through neediness, grandiosity, and exploitation of others. Predators take pleasure in manipulating and controlling others and are willing to engage in violence or crime to meet their needs. Paranoids feel a sense of entitlement and superiority over others yet feel slighted by perceived enemies; they can be dangerous if they feel their narcissistic bubble is threatened. 

Unstable personalities often lack impulse control and are susceptible to paranoia, anxiety, depression, substance abuse; they may turn violent toward themselves or others when they feel unappreciated by society. Navarro likens these disturbed personalities. He advises readers on identifying these personality disorders before individuals explode into action.

22. Whoever Fights Monsters

Author: Robert K. Ressler & Tom Shachtman

Language:‎ English

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Year: April 15, 1992 (Illustrated edition)

Paperback: 288 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 0.66 x 9 inches

Focusing on seven cases and using the evidence at the crime scenes as his starting point, author and leading FBI criminologist Robert K. Ressler tells the true stories of some of America’s most vicious murderers, including Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Richard Speck. 

The author reveals that the common psychological traits shared by these killers, a lack of feeling for others, a disregard for society’s rules, and perversion, are what gave him the clues necessary to hunt them down. He then goes behind prison walls to hear bizarre first-hand stories from countless convicted murderers. As Ressler leads you on this terrifying journey you will never forget, join him as he seeks out the most dangerous psychopaths in the world.

23. Spy The Lie

Author: Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero & Don Tennant

Language:‎ English

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Year: July 17, 2012 (First edition)

Hardcover: 272 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.81 x 0.99 x 8.45 inches

Former CIA Officers Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero have spent their careers studying non-verbal behaviors and how to accurately decode them. In SPY THE LIE, the brothers reveal the best tactics for uncovering lies that include observing nervous behavior, detecting leaky conversations, and knowing how to identify behavioral inconsistencies. 

Incorporating FBI techniques with years of research in the field, along with shocking real-life examples from their own careers in intelligence gathering and law enforcement, these former CIA officers provide critical information every American needs to know.

24. The Lucifer Effect

Author: Philip Zimbardo

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Publication Year: January 22, 2008 (Reprint edition)

Paperback: 576 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.21 inches

What makes good people do bad things? Why are seemingly moral individuals capable of committing atrocities? Are we all capable of evil, or are some people just more prone to it? In the landmark Stanford Prison Experiment, Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues sought answers to these questions.

The Lucifer Effect, written by one of the most influential psychologists of our time, is a deeply unsettling yet compulsively readable book that will challenge our assumptions about good and evil. Zimbardo explains how and why ordinary people can be induced to torture or kill with little or no moral resistance-and how even ordinary people can resist becoming perpetrators themselves. As relevant today as it was when first published, The Lucifer Effect speaks to us all.

25. Ted Bundy

Author: Ryan Becker

Language:‎ English

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Year: March 22, 2018

Paperback: 121 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.5 x 0.28 x 8.5 inches

The rise of Ted Bundy as a killer is something that cannot be understood or explained. Beginning at a young age it was easy enough to believe that he had a heart of gold, and that he wanted nothing more than to please his community. He brought people together, raised money for charities, and touched the lives of many people. However, all of these good things are not what made him a killer. In fact they were miles away from it. Time and time again throughout his decades-long reign of death, he displayed his willingness to kill again and again, eventually taking several dozen lives before finally ending his own life with a noose.

Ted Bundy: The Horrific True Story Behind America’s Most Wicked Serial Killer is the most in-depth look at the life and crimes of one of America’s most dangerous serial killers. This book contains information that has never been revealed, excerpts of interrogation tapes from Bundy, newspaper coverage of what occurred as well as mementos from the murder scenes. By reading Ted Bundy’s biography there is no doubt that you will fully comprehend what a true monster he really was.

26. The Science of Evil

Author: Simon Baron-Cohen

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Basic Books

Publication Year: May 31, 2011 (First edition)

Hardcover: 256 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.5 x 0.75 x 8.25 inches

Do you sometimes wish you were less sensitive? A bit more ruthless? That you could simply shrug off other people’s misfortunes, however awful they may be, and get on with your own life? 

A fascinating exploration of the “dark side” of human nature, The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty explores the idea that a lack of empathy is the common root for both cruelty and kindness in all human societies, but that there are steps we can take to foster empathy. Recognized as one of today’s premier researchers in the fields of autism and behavioral genetics, award winning British writer Simon Baron-Cohen shares with readers his theories on how we as a culture can help reduce destructive behaviors by improving education and encouraging an empathetic response.

27. Dark Dreams

Author: Roy Hazelwood & Stephen G. Michaud

Language:‎ English

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Year: July 19, 2001 (First edition)

Hardcover: 288 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.34 x 1.11 x 9.66 inches

Dark Dreams reveals the thrilling and terrifying criminal psychology stories written by Roy Hazelwood along with bestseller Stephen G. Michaud that will surely take you inside the heads of his prey, the most dangerous sexual criminals in the world, and explore how these criminals permeate and threaten our society. 

In this criminal psychology book, he reveals what drives criminals to commit such reprehensible acts. He also describes how criminal investigators generate psychological profiles of criminal offenders using innovative and remarkably effective techniques.

28. Why They Do It

Author: Eugene Soltes

Language:‎ English

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Publication Year: October 11, 2016

Hardcover: 464 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.9 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches

“Why They Do It” is the criminal behavior book to show how white-collar criminals make decisions. Harvard Business School professor Eugene Soltes takes you deep into the mind of the white-collar criminal. Based on extensive personal interviews and correspondence, up-to-date research, and with an in-depth integration of the newest ideas in psychology, criminology and economics, Soltes paints a complex and nuanced picture of why these individuals commit serious crimes.

The modern-day business environment is fraught with ethical challenges, but the executives within many of today’s leading companies seem more defiant than ever. Many are committing serious crimes, thoughtlessly violating moral and legal codes to put their own interests above others. Based on in-depth conversations with about fifty ex-executives, the author shares insights into the business world.

29. American Predator

Author: Maureen Callahan

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication Year: June 9, 2020 (Reprint edition)

Paperback: 304 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.47 x 0.81 x 8.37 inches

American Predator is the gripping story of the “most meticulous serial killer of the 21st century.” The FBI called him a “force of pure evil.” In his first-ever interview, his daughter shares intimate details about her life growing up in Alaska with a father capable of unthinkable crimes. But Keyes wasn’t just killing for excitement; he was killing out of necessity. “It’s like I’m two different people,” he told investigators. “I guess there’s a good side and an evil side to everyone, but something inside—the dark side—has taken over me entirely.”

This book is a true-crime page-turner that reads like thriller, criminal psychology stories, a book with one of the most chilling and elusive serial killers of our time at its center. Through the journalistic craft that’s brought her to where she is today, Maureen Callahan has created an engaging work of nonfiction that reads as smoothly as fiction. This is your chance to see inside the mind of a killer.

30. The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis

Author: Ian Brady, Colin Wilson & Peter Sotos

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Feral House

Publication Year: June 9, 2015 (Expanded edition)

Paperback: 481 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 1.25 x 9.25 inches

The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis is a strange but revealing book. The author Ian Brady, one of the most notorious murderers in all of British criminal history, analyzes the criminal motives of a dozen infamous criminals in gruesome detail and often with seemingly uncanny insight. Information before this book has been limited to what police uncovered about his crimes, his own legal defense and the lack of public information about why he committed such atrocities.

Feral House has published the first-ever paperback edition of this hugely important book, fully updated with new material from the authors.

31. Criminology and Criminal Profiling for Beginners

Author: Frank Paul E. & Ilaria Cabula

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Independently published

Publication Year: February 25, 2020

Paperback: 294 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 0.74 x 9 inches

Criminology and Criminal Profiling for Beginners offers an overview of important aspects of criminological science, allowing you to gain a deeper insight into the world of criminal behavior, punishment and prevention. 

The beginning six chapters of this criminology book explore the roots of criminology, in-depth analysis of various types of serial killers and various methods of crime scene investigation. The last four chapters concentrate on the study of satanistic sects: their social impact and how they select and manipulate their victims.

32. Criminal Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide

Author: Ray Bull, Claire Cooke & Ruth Hatcher

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Publication Year: November 1, 2009 (2nd edition)

Paperback: 224 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches

Criminal Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide is a must-read for anyone interested in the criminal activity of others. It is written by respected academics and industry professionals with years of expertise in the field of psychology, criminology and criminological practice. It is the best resource for anyone looking for a solid base of knowledge about the subject. Authoritative yet accessible, it covers everything you could ever want to know about this compelling subject, and more.

33. Jeffrey Dahmer

Author: Jack Rosewood

Language:‎ English

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Year: March 27, 2017

Paperback: 169 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5 x 0.39 x 8 inches

“Jeffrey Dahmer” is an in-depth biography of the serial killer responsible for the gruesome murder and cannibalization of seventeen young males. Jeffrey Dahmer’s horrifying story reads like a crime novel rife with elements from his personal life including his troubled childhood, illegitimate birth, absent father, alcoholic mother, glaring personality disorders, and seduction by alcohol and drugs. Though the stories are horrifying, this is a must-read book for anyone interested in true crime and serial killers.

34. Unsolved Serial Killers

Author: D R Werner

Language:‎ English

Publisher: D. R. Werner

Publication Year: July 11, 2021

Hardcover: 162 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches

The world of serial killers is tragic and frightening. There are people who prey on others, killing with apparent ease, inspiring fear and panic in their communities. When these killers go unidentified, the families of their victims are left feeling empty and haunted. 

Unsolved Serial Killers Unsolved Serial Killers is a comprehensive look at the scary world of serial killers and their victims. It unravels the details of ten terrifying true crime cases of unidentified serial killers in cities around the world. Explore the terrifying murders and investigations of killers. These disturbing cases, as well as those of unnamed serial killers whose unspeakable crimes have been lost to time, may never see an answer. Drawing on the latest theories, information, and facts, it’s sure to captivate you.

35. I: The Creation of a Serial Killer

Author: Jack Olsen

Language:‎ English

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Publication Year: August 18, 2003 (1st edition)

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Dimensions:‎ 4.28 x 1.07 x 6.78 inches

In 1990, for the brutal rape and murder of Taunja Bennet, aged 23, Oregon State Police arrested Laverne Pavlinac and John Sosnovke. The young couple confessed to the crime, even producing physical evidence that linked them to the crime. Authorities closed the case. Well, the problem was, they had the wrong person…

The creation of Keith Hunter Jesperson, aka: the Happy Face Killer, was a dark and disturbing one. “I: The Creation of a Serial Killer” reveals the shocking story of this notorious serial killer who killed eight females, most notably Taunja Bennet. Through a masterful blend of police work and mind sciences, we discover the story of Keith Hunter Jesperson, an abuser who murdered his victims, abandoned them in public places, and then bragged about it in cryptic letters marked with a happy face.

36. Criminal Psychology (Topics in Applied Psychology)

Author: David Canter

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Routledge

Publication Year: May 2, 2017 (2nd edition)

Paperback: 288 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6.85 x 0.68 x 9.69 inches

Criminal Psychology: Topics in Applied Psychology, Second Edition provides an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the cutting edge contemporary approaches available across psychology’s role in understanding crime, policing and punishment.

In this text, readers get a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the field of criminal psychology. They will follow how psychology has tried to understand criminals and why they commit crimes, what happens when they are imprisoned and how society offers support to victims of crime.

37. Criminal Psychology: Understanding the Criminal Mind and Its Nature Through Criminal Profiling

Author: Robert Forbes

Language:‎ English

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Year: February 3, 2016 (Annotated edition)

Paperback: 104 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 0.24 x 9 inches

Serial killers and criminals are often a mystery to us. From their methods, to how they came to be and why they committed the heinous crimes they did, there are many unanswered questions.

Criminal psychology is the study of how criminal behavior can be explained. It includes studying risk factors that make a person more likely to commit a crime, such as abuse they suffered in their youth. Criminal psychology can also include looking at the personality type of a criminal, as well as what types of crimes they are likely to commit.

38. Son: A Psychopath and His Victims

Author: Jack Olsen

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Year: October 6, 2015 (Reissue edition)

Paperback: 592 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.38 inches

What is it like to love and live with a man for years—and then discover he is a psychopathic criminal? By learning about the case of Ruth Coe, who loved her husband Fred throughout his life and unaware of the shape of his inner world, we gain important insights into the vulnerable and insidious symptoms that psychopaths almost always exhibit.

In this masterful true-crime book, Jack Olsen takes the reader into the mind of a psychopath. Son is a brutal, shocking, and profoundly satisfying book, written with all the skill and verve of a novel.

39. Murderous Minds

Author: Ryan Becker, Kelly Gaines & Kurtis-Giles Veysey

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Independently published

Publication Year: February 18, 2020

Paperback: 489 pages

Dimensions:‎ 6 x 1.11 x 9 inches

Murderous Minds is a collection of 30 stories that chronicles some of the most vile criminals that escaped capture, who evaded justice and remained on the loose. Inside, you will encounter cases of murder, family annihilation, and every kind of blood-chilling crime imaginable – all made especially terrifying by expert narrative. 

If you love true crime, you were probably drawn in by your own inner demons. The next time you are feeling the pull to commit a crime, consider this book. You’ll get a glimpse of what it is really like inside the mind of a killer. It is not a pretty picture and – just maybe – it will hold you back from crossing that line and becoming one yourself.

40. Child Killer: The True Story of The Atlanta Child Murders

Author: Jack Rosewood

Language:‎ English

Publisher: Independently published

Publication Year: November 15, 2018

Paperback: 197 pages

Dimensions:‎ 5 x 0.45 x 8 inches

Child Killer is an account of the Atlanta Child Murders case. This is the true story of how the police used fiber evidence, fingerprints and criminal profiling to eventually catch Wayne Williams, who at the time was only a suspect. 

The criminal psychology book is written in a straightforward manner that makes for easy reading and does not use any technical terms or terminology that could confuse anyone, even if they are not familiar with law enforcement techniques. This is the story of how a city was placed under siege by a serial killer and how that serial killer was eventually captured by law enforcement officers. The victims of the Atlanta Child Murders were all black; most were male, but that fact did not cause law enforcement officers to stop searching for the murderer.


Hope you have found the best and most suitable books on criminal psychology for you among the presented books you were looking for. As a professional these books are very useful while analyzing any crime scene and note down any clues in your notebook. Even though you might not be dedicated to this sector yet, you must know the behavior pattern of a criminal to protect yourself in any odd situation. 

Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Who knows, the criminal might be sitting beside you!

Keep reading to understand criminal behavior further. Be Bookish!

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