More obscure books in serial killer fiction
January 28, 2010 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for lesser-known fictional books involving serial killers along the lines of works such as Monstrum (Donald James) and By Reason of Insanity by Shane Stevens. All the lists I am pulling up are the big names such as Deaver, Cornwell, Harris, Carr, etc etc. Anybody have some obscure favorites? They don't have to be series (though I enjoyed David Wiltse's '90s run), and actually prefer them not to be series. They can be older works like Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. Thanks for your suggestions.
posted by snap_dragon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Poppy Z. Brite's Exquisite Corpse takes two serial killers as (some of) its lead characters. It's incredibly gruesome in a few parts, but in a way that serves the larger concerns of the story. Compelling plotting, crime elements outside of the traditional crime plot, and memorable characters and scenes.

Joyce Carol Oates's Zombie might interest you.
posted by dervish at 11:15 AM on January 28, 2010

Just finished Chelsea Cain's Heartsick and I'm in the midst of the sequel Sweetheart . They focus more on the lead detective's role and his relationship to the female serial killer, Gretchen Lowell, but she is one helluva a sadistic beyotch.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:02 PM on January 28, 2010

Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho, though it's not terrible obscure.
posted by tryniti at 12:13 PM on January 28, 2010

I came in to recommend Oates's Zombie, but will instead recommend Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon, which oates wrote under the psuedonym Rosamund Smith and is about a female serial killer who is a twin.
posted by archimago at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2010

You might like Eoin McNamee's Ressurection Man (later made into a film). Given the context of the conflict in the north of Ireland not a straightforward serial killer story but the themes and exploration of the psychology of violence cover similar ground.
posted by Abiezer at 1:44 PM on January 28, 2010

It's part of a series, but: Reginald Hill's Dialogues of the Dead.

Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer.

Sabina Murray, A Carnivore's Inquiry.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:52 PM on January 28, 2010

I highly recommend Derek Van Arman's Just Killing Time. Arguably one of the most chilling and suspenseful serial killer novels I have ever read. I originally bought a used paperback version, but enjoyed it so much I scoured the web for a pristine hardcover copy.

Read the Amazon user reviews, the vast majority of them are right on target. Van Arman melds forensic detail, criminal psychology, and local history, and the result is one of the finest exemplars of the serial killer genre.
posted by invisible ink at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you don't mind going into comic books, the Sandman collection "The Doll's House" goes into what makes serial killers what they are, as Dream disbands a convention full of them.
posted by GJSchaller at 2:24 PM on January 28, 2010

I really enjoyed The Alienist by John Schuyler Moore.

This is set in 1896 and it a very interesting story! It's a bit to get into but totally worth the perseverance! Loved it!
posted by Weaslegirl at 2:45 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just discovered Mo Hayder, and can't recommend her highly enough. Birdman is about a sadistic serial killer in present-day southeast London. There were a couple of fiendishly clever plot twists that shocked even this gorehound.

The Treatment might not qualify as dealing with serial killers, although it is about a multiple murderer. Well worth checking out if you like Birdman, though.
posted by vickyverky at 2:53 PM on January 28, 2010

I am so pleased not to have been beaten to recommending Blackburn.
posted by Zed at 4:06 PM on January 28, 2010

Its old and its more about how a person becomes a serial killer, but The Collector by John Fowles is a great read.
posted by Lesium at 9:08 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ramsey Campbell, generally considered the greatest living horror writer, has several.

Secret Story

The Count of Eleven

The Face That Must Die

I guess you consider the granddaddy of them all, Psycho, well known; Robert Bloch also has The Scarf.
posted by supremefiction at 4:28 AM on January 29, 2010

« Older McDonnell's SOTU response   |   New job ideas? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.