13 Gripping Novels Inspired by True Crimes
We all love reading thrillers—from murder mysteries to gripping heists—but sometimes we are even more intrigued by a thriller when it is based on startling true events. Below are several of our favorite examples of fast-paced and suspenseful novels that were inspired by true crimes and shocking incidents throughout history.
1The Two Mrs. Grenvilles
Dominick Dunne expertly depicts the tawdry lives of the rich and famous. In this novel, the matriarch of a society family is horrified when her banking-heir son marries a showgirl. The women butt heads until a scandalous shooting binds the two Mrs. Grenvilles together forever.
2The Daughter of Time
Considered one of the greatest mystery novels of all time, THE DAUGHTER OF TIME explores the infamous alleged crimes of King Richard III. When a Scotland Yard inspector comes across a portrait of the king, he becomes obsessed with discovering the truth about the famous Plantagenet—and questions everything from his hunchback to his role with the legendary Princes in the Tower.
In Gilded Age New York, unconventional police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt is desperate to solve a brutal murder. He enlists a reporter, a psychologist, and an NYPD secretary to craft a psychological profile of the criminal—a revolutionary idea aimed at discovering the killer’s identity before he kills again.
Inspired by real-life horrifying kidnapping cases, ROOM is less a true crime novel and more a testament to the powerful love between mother and child. Determined to escape from the tiny room she’s been held in for several years, a young woman embarks on a harrowing and dangerous plan to gain freedom for herself and her son.
7The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
Though only a short story, Poe’s crime masterpiece is famous for being one of the first mysteries based on a real murder: that of Mary Rogers, known as New York’s “beautiful cigar girl.” Poe’s detective uses analytical reasoning—much like the future Sherlock Holmes—to solve the sensational murder of a young woman.
A female journalist in 1930s Chicago investigates the sudden deaths of a woman and her three children. Is the charming man who promised to marry her and provide for her and her children involved? Based on the crimes of a real con man, Phillips crafts a mesmerizing and moving hunt for justice.
9Silence of the Lambs
Drawing from the modus operandi of several real serial killers, Thomas Harris crafted two of the most frightening villains of modern times: Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill. At the heart of this novel, though, is FBI trainee Clarice Starling, who juggles her own personal demons while tracking down a serial killer before he strikes again.
The Black Dahlia murder—the most notorious Hollywood crime—inspired this gripping and clever mystery, in which a prostitute is found brutally murdered in 1940s Los Angeles. Two brothers, a detective and a priest, are brought together in the investigation as guilt, hostility, and the dark sides of Hollywood test their loyalties.