Reference material about detectives pursuing serial killers?

I’m trying to outline the plot for an adventure game (parser? choice? point & click?) about a detective pursuing a serial killer. Can anyone suggest reference material that specifically deals with that theme? Especially movies, games, and true crime documentaries or podcasts. Books and comics recommendations are welcome, too, but those can be a little less convenient to access. Thanks!


Trevor McDonald did a documentary about the case of catching a serial killer nurse who targeted children in her care and the medical coverups involved in the case- which vastly complicated her capture because of slow/no reporting and shift rearranging, plus the role of whistleblowers. Here is the Casual Criminalist episode on her. And another documentary on her.

While she’s arguably more famous for the same crime, there was also a similar case with a male nurse. Deaths in clinical settings are often easier to coverup/excuse as natural causes or complications from illnesses gone wrong, and people aren’t likely to whistleblow for fear of retribution: or thinking it unfathomable someone would kill innocent babies in the NICU. Another similar killer is Lucy Letby, who killed via insulin overdoses- dubbed the most prolific child killer in modern Britain.

Here’s a podcast episode interviewing one of the investigators (Paul Holes) in the Golden State Killer case. A fantastic The Casual Criminalist video on the same murderer, (that entire Youtube channel is great!) This case is interesting to examine because of the role of genealogy information being used in catching the criminal.


Thanks so much. I will check those out. I think the Golden State Killer one in particular might be helpful with what I’m going for.

1 Like

Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI


Like Ressler who wrote the book Zed mentioned, John Douglas is another of the core Behavioural Science profiling people. He’s been more prolific in writing about his involvement with cases, starting with Mindhunter. Any of the books in this series of sorts are worth reading (e.g. The Killer Across The Table.)

Detective Bob Keppel wrote about the Bundy case and his work on the Green River Killer case in Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer.

The Bundy case has been written about from more perspectives than any other: The lawyer who tried to save him on death row, the guy who led the prosecution for his last murder, his casual friend Ann Rule (later a crime writer) who worked with him in a crisis hotline centre before he was arrested for any killings, his girlfriend at the time Elizabeth Kendall, casual acquaintance journalist Richard Larsen, but Keppel is the only detective involved to have written about it.



I’ve recently started watching “Forensic Files” which has been a long running television series on true crime forensics investigations, reasonably well produced, and may have relevant episodes.


Thanks, I think someone else has mentioned that to me as well, so I will have to look into it!

Thanks, will have to look into that. The Green River situation has already had a little bit of influence on what I’ve plotted out so far.

Sweet, I will see if I can find that streaming somewhere. Thanks!

It’s probably also worth pointing out that you can also buy (or borrow) a copy of the FBI’s Crime Classification Manual, which was co-written by Douglas. It’s still in print, but you can find used copies for just a couple bucks, or borrow it for free from a library or

It’s a technical(-ish) reference work, but has case studies, notes about common forensic findings for different kinds of crime, notes about victimology, notes on investigative techniques, and so on.

Dunno if that kind of thing is too in the weeds for most game designers (you’re probably more worried about playability than dedication to strict verisimilitude), but it’s a pretty deep well to draw upon if you’re looking for fiddly details for a crime drama. And it’s organized as a reference work, so it’s probably easier to use for looking up specific details, as opposed to a popular narrative history.


That’s a great suggestion, thanks!

I only have book suggestions, but FWIW:

A Fly for the Prosecution is about forensic entomology—in case you have bugs involved :slight_smile: Also, fun trivia: it appears in one of the first episodes of the original CSI, out of focus and you can’t see the title, but the cover design is distinctive enough to identify it.

Also, and oldie but goodie, Capote’s In Cold Blood? Maybe for inspiration on writing style and narrative, more than details about a serial killer investigation, but ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Good luck!


I need to read this. There are always plenty of bugs in my games, at least until the testers get their mitts on them.


Thanks, I’m not sure bugs are gonna be a factor, but if they are then I sure know where to look!