True crime is so popular­ these days—whether in the form of books, podcasts, or TV shows—that writers have begun getting meta with it, writing fictional stories about true crime, most notably the twisty and hilarious Hulu series Only Murders in the Building. Authors from Dickens to Ellroy have based novels on real crimes, and of course mysteries have always been about solving crimes, but it feels like something new to have novels revolve around the production of a true-crime narrative.

Kate Clayborn has added a true-crime element to her latest romance, The Other Side of Disappearing (Kensington, March 26). Jess Greene’s mother disappeared 10 years ago, running off with a sketchy guy who just may be an infamous con artist, and Jess has been busy taking care of her younger sister, Tegan. Now a podcaster wants them to help track their mother down, and Tegan is all for it. Jess is less enthusiastic, but she goes along to protect Tegan—and perhaps spend time with the podcast’s producer, Adam. “Clayborn’s latest romance is certainly about Jess and Adam’s slow burn as a couple,” our starred review says, “but it also juggles an impressive number of other threads, including…our collective obsession with true crime....The subject matter is a change of pace from Clayborn’s previous novels, but the author’s strength with character and emotion deftly shines through.”

Amy Tintera’s Listen for the Lie (Celadon, March 5) also revolves around a podcast. Five years ago, 20-something Savannah Harper was murdered, and everyone in her hometown of Plumpton, Texas, thinks the killer was her best friend, Lucy Chase. Lucy has returned home for her grandmother’s birthday just as Ben Owens, a podcaster, shows up asking questions that cast doubt on her guilt: “She’s strong, she’s prickly, and we gradually begin to understand just how wronged she has been,” our review says, calling the book “smart, edgy, and entertaining as heck.”

Jessica Knoll’s Bright Young Women (Marysue Rucci Books, 2023) was one of my favorite books of last year, a novel that fictionalizes Ted Bundy’s 1978 attack on a Florida sorority house without ever mentioning his name. The book starts with the crime and then follows Pamela Schumacher, the sorority president, as she deals with the aftermath, including a sympathetic story in the Tallahassee Democrat by a reporter whose interests then diverge from Pamela’s. He’s reading Helter Skelter, the famous book about the Manson murders, and perhaps trying to spin the story into a bestseller of his own. Our starred review calls it “a stunning, engaging subversion of the Bundy myth—and the true-crime genre.”

Daniel Sweren-Becker’s Kill Show (Harper, 2023) revolves around several forms of true-crime media. When 16-year-old Sara Parcell goes missing on her way to school, the police investigation goes nowhere until Sara’s brother makes a video of his parents talking to each other and uploads it to YouTube. A reality-TV producer gets involved, and then, 10 years later, there’s an oral history of the crime, which is supposedly what we’re reading. Though the ending is rushed, this book is “a riveting work of fiction that doubles as scathing social commentary about America’s true-crime obsession,” according to our review.

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.