Unsolved Mysteries, the classic, long-running documentary series exploring unsolved crimes, missing persons cases, and paranormal phenomena is back. It’s been reported that almost 15% of Netflix’s 180 million subscribers have watched the reboot’s first six episodes since they started streaming in July. Maybe one of them was you.
If you’re looking for more like Unsolved Mysteries, we have the list of enigmatic books for you.
The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg
In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived; they traveled with a third woman however, who lived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the “Rainbow Murders,” though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the investigation itself caused its own traumas—turning neighbor against neighbor and confirming a fear of the violence outsiders have done to this region for centuries.
Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America—its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar
In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.
Haunted by Dorah L. Williams
It was an irrational decision. Despite having just moved into a beautiful new house, the Williams family gave in to an odd, overwhelming desire to purchase and move into a Victorian home they had come upon by chance. They were curious, of course, as to why the house had, in the past, had such a high vacancy rate – no one ever seemed to live in it for a long period of time. But that curiosity didn’t last long, because shortly after moving in, strange things began to happen. It became abundantly clear that the home’s past owners had all had a reason for leaving: fear. The Williams’ new home was haunted. At first, the family tried telling themselves there were logical explanations for the strange things they all were witnessing. But before long they came to accept the fact that they were sharing their home with ghosts. Haunted is the Williams family’s story from the point of view of the mother, Dorah. Through her chilling reminiscences, we witness the all-too-real goings-on in the house. And we join the family as they seek a way to bring an end to the paranormal events that were occurring with ever more frequency and intensity, and learn why the events began in the first place.
Ghost Ship by Brian Hicks
The Mary Celeste was cursed as soon as she was launched on the Bay of Fundy in the spring of 1861. Her first captain died before completing the maiden voyage. In London she accidentally rammed and sank an English brig. Later she was abandoned after a storm drove her ashore at Cape Breton. But somehow the ship was recovered and refitted, and in the autumn of 1872 she fell to the reluctant command of a seasoned mariner named Benjamin Spooner Briggs. It was Briggs who was at the helm when the Mary Celeste sailed into history.
In Brian Hicks’s skilled hands, the story of the Mary Celeste becomes the quintessential tale of men lost at sea. Hicks vividly recreates the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance and then unfolds the complicated and bizarre aftermath—the dark suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the farcical Admiralty Court salvage hearing in Gibraltar; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story sensationalizing the mystery. Everything from a voodoo curse to an alien abduction has been hauled out to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste. But, as Brian Hicks reveals, the truth is actually grounded in the combined tragedies of human error and bad luck.
Hell in the Heartland by Jax Miller
On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing.
While rumors of drug debts, revenge, and police corruption abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found.
In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller–who had been haunted by the case–decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter night in 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for: evidence of jaw-dropping levels of police negligence, entire communities ravaged by methamphetamine addiction, and a series of interconnected murders with an ominously familiar pattern.
The Devil & Sherlock Holmes David Grann
Whether he’s reporting on the infiltration of the murderous Aryan Brotherhood into the U.S. prison system, tracking down a con artist in Europe, or riding with a scientist hunting the elusive giant squid, David Grann revels in telling stories that explore the nature of obsession. Each of the stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world, pivoting around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip.
There is the world’s foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes, found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent; and sandhogs racing to complete the dangerous job of building New York City’s water tunnels before the old system collapses. Throughout, Grann’s accounts display the power–and often the willful perversity–of the human spirit, a mosaic of ambition, madness, passion, and folly.
The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO Highway by Ben Mezrich
Like Agent Mulder of The X-Files, microchip engineer and sheriff’s deputy Chuck Zukowski is obsessed with tracking down UFO reports in Colorado. He even takes the family with him on weekend trips to look for evidence of aliens. But this innocent hobby takes on a sinister urgency when Zukowski learns of mutilated livestock—whose exsanguination is inexplicable by any known human or animal means.
Along an expanse of land stretching across the southern borders of Utah, Colorado, and Kansas, Zukowski documents hundreds of bizarre incidences of mutilations, and discovers that they stretch through the heart of America. His pursuit of the truth draws him deeper into a vast conspiracy, and he journeys from Roswell and Area 51 to the Pentagon and beyond; from underground secret military caverns to Native American sacred sites; and to wilderness areas where strange, unexplained lights traverse the sky at extraordinary speeds. Something’s clearly happening out there in the high meadows and along desert highways.
We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper
1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard’s Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.
Forty years later, Becky Cooper a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she’d threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumor proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a ‘cowboy culture’ among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.