Everyone either has that one friend or is that one friend who loves true crime. True crime is ubiquitous and popular for several reasons. First, it is shocking and disturbing, making it addictive to watch or read. Second, true crime stories often have complex and fascinating characters who are easy to become invested in. Finally, true crime narratives offer the promise of understanding the dark side of human nature and gaining insight into criminal minds’ workings. True crime is consumed in many forms: books, podcasts, documentaries, movies, clothing, accessories, and more.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of true crime gift ideas. Gifts range from practical and silly to informative and interactive and take the form of knickknacks, clothing, stickers, books, subscriptions, and useful tools. Whether you love it or hate the genre, friends and family of true crime lovers have plenty of ways to say “I see you” with the perfect gift.
If you have a friend or loved one obsessed with all things true crime, the biggest mystery may be knowing what to get them for birthdays or the holidays. Here is a gift guide for lovers of true crime.
Some of the best gifts are relatively cheap and cheerful. These simple gifts are budget-friendly and are a great way to show the true crime lover in your life that you care if they live or die.
Etsy has no shortage of customized t-shirts, mugs, and stickers, including WildOakStickers selling the “anxious, stressed, and true crime obsessed vinyl sticker.
For friends who like cerebral games, True Crime Puzzles gives a variety of verbal, logical, memory, and visual puzzles to solve.
Practical jokesters will enjoy Crime Scene Evidence Tape, which goes well with Evidence Bags, enabling them to bring their lunch or travel accessories in paper or plastic.
Subscriptions are experiences that sell tangible or intangible items. Examples of tangible subscriptions are packages you receive in the mail, while intangible things like podcast subscriptions may unlock ad-free listening and other bonus features. In addition, some podcasts combine intangible and small tangible gifts.
For the armchair detective, consider a subscription to a true crime podcast like My Favorite Murder Annual Fan Cult Membership, which has millions of downloads each month and is famous for its tagline: “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.”
The two podcast hosts, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark tour globally, so for the “Murderino” fan in your life, buying tickets for one of their live shows is also a great gift idea. In addition, a subscription to the Fan Cult Membership provides expanded bonus listening content, a pair of socks, and a lapel pin so members can spot one another in public.
Hunt a Killer provides a tangible interactive mystery box and membership. If you or your true crime lover friend is the type of person who loves a good mystery, then this box is the perfect gift. Subscribers are given six months to solve a case of a serial killer based in a fictional town.
The Hunt for a Killer kit comes with several pieces of evidence, tips, police reports, and newspaper clippings, and you must use them all to find the serial killer behind the murders. In addition, you receive a detective’s notebook to write down any theories or ideas as they do in real-life episodes of the serial killer shows we enjoy watching. By the sixth box, you should have enough information to identify and capture the criminal without mistakes. There are six boxes in total, so you can try to prepare by watching some true crime documentaries on Netflix.
Madmen & Heroes is a monthly subscription puzzle adventure where you disentangle mysteries, riddles, ciphers, and all manner of perplexing enigmas. Great for adults and kids, subscribers pick one or more narratives, receive monthly puzzles, and decode mysteries based on real-life resistance or folklore stories. After each box, you’ll be rewarded with additional information about historical or folkloric events relating to the issues you solved!
The true crime genre is limited to itself. There is plenty of cross-over into classics, international, women, underdog, and serial killers, which are detailed below.
Starting with the classics, for those who like to get their hands dirty, several books delve into famous cold cases. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a classic of the genre.
True crime lover’s who prefer to go international, no collection is complete without a copy of The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. This beautifully written book tells the story of de Waal’s family history through the lens of a set of Japanese netsuke carvings that have been passed down through the generations. It’s a fascinating read that provides insights not only into the nature of crime, but also into human nature itself.
Those who prefer to read stories about women will enjoy Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer and The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro.
True crimes fans rooting for the underdog will love this Robin Hood-style story: The Unusual Suspect: The Rise and Fall of a Modern-Day Outlaw by Ben Machell.
Serial killers stand alone as a book genre and offer history, autobiographies, and recipes of all things. The Serial Killer Cookbook: True Crime Trivia and Disturbingly Delicious Last Meals from Death Row’s Most Infamous Killers and Murders by Ashley Lecker. Helen Morrison’s My Life Among the Serial Killers provides a more recent firsthand account of working with some of America’s most notorious murderers. And for a lighter read, Serial Killer Trivia: Fascinating Facts and Disturbing Details That Will Freak You the F*ck Out for those who want to live dangerously through the printed page.
True crime lovers may eventually graduate from enthusiasts to amateurs or professionals. Here are some tools for true crime lovers to support them in this inevitable crossover.
True crime lovers who need more security and Addalock Portable Door Lock provides peace of mind. Addalock is the original portable door lock used on most hinged and swinging doors inwards. Designed to add additional safety, security, and seclusion, the bolt or latch of the door lock does not have to fit through the hole of Addalock for it to keep a true crime lover safer from harm.
Old-school true crime fans may own a police scanner machine, but these days there’s an app for that. True crime lovers often want to know what’s happening on the streets of their city or residential area. While these apps that read radio frequencies shared by police, fire, and ambulance are free, they contain in-app purchases for more expanded and less advertising. Police scanner apps are available from the Apple Store and Google Play.
When a true crime fan considers converting their coffee nook into a forensic lab, you know things are getting serious. For science-oriented true crime lovers, consider investing in a forensic microscope. Some models offer simple magnified optics, while others offer 2D and 3D imaging.
Lastly, learning isn’t limited to college. Udemy offers nearly 20 forensic science courses that provide basic, intermediate, and advanced crime scene investigation training. Courses include forensic examinations of wounds and injuries, forensic microscopy, and fingerprinting.
Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. Rachel writes about meditation, yoga, coaching, and more on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).