This Halloween week, or indeed any week, you can get your shivers and chills from a good monster story or a dark paranormal encounter… or you can gaze into the fascinatingly heinous minds of people harbouring true wickedness.

Christopher Berry-Dee is one of the world’s top true-crime writers. It is fair to say that he has spent more time in the company of evil than any of us will thankfully ever have to, and the fruits of his career-long pursuit of the cruel and conscienceless make for invariably titillating reading. Torturers, psychopaths, murderers in their many guises… there’s scarcely a monstrous MO that you won’t encounter in his pages.

Our fascination with the sadistic and the unhinged is undeniable – the ongoing mystery of our capacity for torment is endlessly absorbing – and this grim preoccupation is well served by Berry-Dee’s excavations. In these two books, Talking with Psychopaths and Savages and Talking With Female Serial Killers, the author brings us into the company of some of the darkest people that the world has produced and wrings from that closeness riveting and graphic insights into the hideous things that people can do to each other. And it isn’t just a voyeuristic look at horrible crimes; these are books driven by forensic examination and thorough investigation, books propelled always by the questions, “how do we spot these people?” and “how much prevention is possible?”

Talking With Psychopaths and Savages combines sections on killers that Berry-Dee has known and interviewed with studies of notable psychopaths and serial killers from the past, building a larger contextual look at murder and remorse over the last hundred years or so. It’s a chilling narrative that certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, a compilation that will ultimately have you wondering just how close you are to a savage killer.

Talking With Female Serial Killer’s is just that: a study of this comparatively rare breed of killer, the shocking nature of their incomprehensible crimes and the things that brought them into being. Myra Hindley, Rosemary West and Aileen Wuornos are included here with less famous figures such as child-killer Beverly Allitt and family-murderer Janie Lou Gibbs.

These are two titles that the criminologist in you will savour, two titles that will leave you chilled and enthralled and, perhaps, looking at those around you just a little differently. Essential reading for the curious mind.