In 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered just up the street from her apartment in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York.

The crime would shock America not simply due to its brutality, but because, as would later be noted by police reports and newspapers, none of the neighbours - 38 in total - apparently responded to Kitty's cries for help. Kevin Cook's book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, The Bystanders, The Crime That Changed America is collated from interviews with Kitty's lover alongside several people who know the story that popular culture ignored. Careful attention is paid to the victim herself and the strange, disturbed man who murdered her, while questions are raised regarding the truth of the claims that no-one came to Kitty's aid that night.

Cook's re-telling is necessarily dramatic, yet resolutely level-headed, recalling the spirit of great narrative true crime writers such as Joseph Wambaugh. It's a compelling read, taking into account not just this one crime but the world in which it took place. Cook's portrait of the West Village lifestyle enjoyed by Kitty and her lover, Mary Ann, is evocative, encompassing Dylan, Warhol, Van Ronk, even Simon and Garfunkel. On the flip side, he captures the desperately peculiar life and psychology of her killer, Winston Moseley, a man who was only arrested following a burglary committed several months after Kitty's death terrified the nation. Cook's take on events is intelligent, superbly researched and truly unsettling, making this one of the best true crime books I've read in the last few years.

Malcolm Mackay's The Night The Rich Men Burned is fiction, not fact but, as with his first three novels, he paints a credible and realistic picture of an urban underworld. The book - like the trilogy that made Mackay's name - is nominally set in Glasgow. But the author eschews city-specific detail, lending his work a quality not unlike that of Ed McBain, whose own anonymous city was often associated with New York. Indeed, Mackay's style owes a great deal to US writers such as McBain, Elmore Leonard, George V Higgins and Richard Stark. He writes in short, staccato sentences, although these sometimes run the risk of becoming over-stylised.

This, his first standalone novel, focuses on two young men - Alex Glass and Oliver Peterkinney - who are at financial and social dead ends. Taking a job for a local debt collector, they soon find their lives rocketing in unexpected directions. Glass is the loud one who makes all the wrong decisions, while the more cautious Peterkinney soon makes his mark in the underworld. But both men learn the price of their new lives, recalling classic American noir movies such as Scarface and The Public Enemy. While it's possible you might guess where this set up is leading, Mackay's confident prose gives the book an irresistible momentum that undercuts the more familiar beats of the plot. It's a relief to read a bestselling Scottish writer who eschews the police in favour of the criminals, crafting dark, noir-tinged tales that stand out from the crowd.

Less melodramatic than Mackay's novel, but equally compelling, DA Mishani's A Possibility Of Violence is the second novel to feature Inspector Avraham, a policeman from the city of Holon, in the district of Tel Aviv. Avraham is still recovering from the events of award-winning The Missing File when his leave is cut short after a bomb is discovered outside a local nursery. Avraham soon gets his man, but the evidence against the suspect seems contradictory. Without a confession, Avraham and his investigative team are forced to look deeper. Meanwhile, one of the parents whose children attend the nursery is hiding secrets of his own, and worries that this bomb threat might bring his own private crimes to light.

The translation by Todd Hassak-Lowy is crisp and natural, allowing the reader to revel in the surprisingly personal nature of the crimes uncovered by Avraham. As the novel creeps towards its conclusion, readers will find themselves becoming more aware of a truth they might not want to accept. Morally complex and psychologically convincing, A Possibility Of Violence is a terrifying and disturbing psychological drama.