As a genre, true crime is massive and it's not hard to see why. All of the twists and turns are only made all the more gripping because you know the story you're reading is true. If you fancy yourself as an armchair Sherlock Holmes, there’s a whole host of books to sink your teeth into. However, the true crime genre is pretty dominated by stories of murder. If that's not your bag or you need something new but you still want to delve into the world of true crime, here are the seven
best UK true crime books that aren't about murder.
You only need to scratch the surface to reveal the UK’s murky underbelly of gangsters, heists, mobs, and prisons, past and present. While you may not want to come face to face with some of the most iconic criminals of the UK’s past, any true crime fan will tell you, once you start to read true crime it’s hard to stop. The genre is dominated by stories of murders and deceit and, while they’re super mysterious and spooky, there are so many other stories out there that'll have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Here are seven of the best UK true crime books not about murder which are so surreal it’s hard to believe they’re all based on real cases.
1 ‘Sexy Beasts: The Inside Story Of The Hatton Garden Heist’ by Wensley Clarkson
The Hatton Garden Heist has had true crime fans hooked for decades and inspired numerous books, TV adaptations, and even films. In
Sexy Beasts Wensley Clarkson explores how the heist that was supposed to keep a retired group of criminals in the money for the rest of their lives went terribly wrong. Widely regarded as one of the UK’s most well connected and in-the-know true crime writers Clarkson has spoken to those who really know the truth to get to the bottom of one of the deadliest game of cat and mouse in British history.
buy it here. 2 ‘Fast Eddie’ by Eddie Maher
For two decades Eddie Maher was considered one of the most wanted men in Britain. For 20 years he
evaded the authorities and was practically untraceable. In Fast Eddie he takes readers back to Jan. 1993 when he pulled off a £1.2 million heist which started his life on the run with his family. He lead 30 detectives, Interpol, and the FBI on a manhunt across the U.S. despite all of the ports being closed. By using alternative identities Maher avoided capture until he was betrayed. This story reads like a sensationalist film script as Maher tells his own story in graphic detail.
buy it here. 3 ‘The Great Train Robbery’ by Nick Russell-Pavier and Stewart Richards
Any true crime fan worth their salt will have already heard about the great train robbery. It’s considered one of the most iconic cases in UK history. In Aug. 1963, in a robbery lasting just 46 minutes,
£2.6 million was stolen from a night mail train (the equivalent of £50 million in 2019.) The perpetrators, Ronnie Biggs, Buster Edwards, and Bruce Reynolds, have captured the imagination of people around the globe ever since. The Great Train Robbery reveals the one mistake the criminals made that cost them their lives in jail and the police force that stopped at nothing to catch them.
buy it here. 4 ‘Good Cop, Bad War’ by Neil Woods
Over the last two decades, it's been hard to get away from the term “war on drugs” when reading about drug gangs and dealing in the UK. However, Neil Woods spent 14 years on the
frontline as an undercover police officer, influtrating drug gangs, and coming face-to-face with some of the most dangerous criminals in Britain. Through very personal and sometimes scary anecdotes, Woods highlights where he thinks policy has failed and how no amount of training can prepare you for some of the situations he’s been in. Woods’ story is so gripping you’ll be right there with him. This is a real page turner and you’ll be on the edge of your seat every step of the way.
buy it here. 5 ‘One Last Job’ by Tom Pettifor & Nick Sommerland
Have you ever wondered what goes into pulling off one of the biggest crimes in UK history? For any true crime fan trying to get into the criminal mind is fascinating. In
One Last Job Tom Pettifor and Nick Sommerland try to do just that. They take a deep dive into the history and character of Brian Reader, a mastermind behind the Hatton Garden Heist and a man that was known as The Master. Through interviews with close associates Pettifor and Sommerland reveal the criminal career that Reader built up over six decades earning him millions. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be an old school criminal this books for you.
buy it here. 6 ‘Gone Shopping: The Story of Shirley Pitts - Queen of Thieves’ by Lorraine Gamman
The true crime genre is bursting at the seams with stories about male criminal masterminds and their terrible antics. However, few criminals will have you so enthralled in their story as Shirley Pitts. Pitts proved you don’t get given the title Queen of Thieves lightly. Born in 1934 in London she initially started to steal food as a child to survive. She mastered the tricks of the trade and before her death in 1992 she
divulged all of her secrets to Lorraine Gamman. Buried in a £5,000 designer dress with a floral tribute with the words “Gone Shopping”, the term Pitts used when she was going out to work (read: steal), she’s a key criminal figure in UK history.
buy it here. 7 ‘Strangeways: A Prison Officer’s Story’ by Neil Samworth
For a true crime enthusiast Strangeways prison is one of the most mysterious places to me. From notorious riots to housing some of the most dangerous criminals in the UK's history if those walls could talk I’m positive they’d reveal some deep and dark secrets. While the walls may not be able to speak one prison officer has spoken out about his time working in HMP Manchester. Neil Samworth worked there for 11 years and has written a
graphically detailed account about working with some of the most dangerous men in Britain, from gang members to terrorists, and highlights how the system we have is under too much pressure. If you’ve ever wondered what life behind bars in one of the most notorious prisons in the UK is like then you have to read Samworth’s account.
buy it here. 8
So many true crime stories read like fantasy. It's incredible to believe that all of the details in these books are based on true events and anecdotes. If you're in need of some new true crime and want to step away from murder check out these seven books.