10 Crime Fiction Novels Inspired by Real Life Crimes

10 Crime Fiction Novels Inspired by Real Life Crimes

As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.

The Honour Killing: Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham researched the case of Banaz Mahmod – dubbed Britain’s first honour killing – in detail when writing his best-selling book; Love Like Blood. A woman murdered by members of her own family, it’s an unbelievable and brutal case that took place in South London.

‘I didn’t realise that it could involve quite as many people and be quite so brutal’ – Mark Billingham, ‘Written in Blood’

DI Nicola Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts. As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne is drawn into a horrifying world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two eleven-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.

The Child Killers: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

When writing her hit book The Wicked Girls, Alex Marwood extensively researched the notorious story of the murder of James Bulger; the two year old boy abducted and killed by two ten year old boys.

‘This is where the crime began. It’s a very funny feeling coming here, because of its extreme mundanity’ – Alex Marwood, ‘Written in Blood’

One fateful morning in 1986, two eleven-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were children.

After a heady New Year’s Eve ball, a woman is brutally raped as she returns to her room. A week later, another woman is attacked. Both victims’ shoes are taken by the offender …

The Shoe Rapist: Dead Like You by Peter James

Peter James felt compelled to write Dead Like You after learning about the bizarre case of the Rotherham Shoe Rapist; a sex attacker who would keep his victims’ shoes as trophies.

‘Never in my wildest imagination could I think up an offender who repeatedly attacks women, targets them, steals their shoes, and keeps them as trophies. But that really happened.’ – Peter James, ‘Written in Blood’

After a New Year’s Eve ball, a woman is raped as she returns to her room. A week later, another woman is attacked. Both victims’ shoes are taken. Resembling the unsolved case of the ‘Shoe Man’ who attacked 6 women in 1997, is this a copycat, or has Shoe Man returned?

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

The Facebook Killer: Watch Me by Angela Clarke

Angela Clarke has written a series of books inspired by crimes orchestrated on social media. Peter Chapman was dubbed ‘The Facebook Killer’ after graduating from sexual assaults and rapes of prostitutes to the online grooming and murder of a local teenager.

‘He has 3,000 friends on Facebook, and every single one of them is female’ – Angela Clarke, ‘Written in Blood’

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears. This time, the message is sent directly to the Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing. Whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

1993. The Parkside Rapist has been terrorising the women of South London, and Detective Chief Superintendent Charlie Bannan is in need of a secret weapon if he’s going to catch this particular monster. 

The Rachel Nickell Murder: Redemption of the Dead by Luke Delaney

Former London detective Luke Delaney was inspired by the famous murder of Rachel Nickell for his short story; Redemption of the Dead. The young mum was brutally murdered and sexually assaulted whilst walking her dog on Wimbledon Common with her little boy.

‘It was Jack the Ripper stuff, the police photographer couldn’t work for two years after’ – Luke Delaney, ‘Written in Blood’

The Parkside Rapist has been terrorising the women of South London, and DCS Charlie Bannan needs a lead. When fresh-faced PC Sean Corrigan joins the team, he soon finds himself exploring his own dark past in the race to help his new mentor catch their quarry.

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

The Leanne Tiernan Murder: The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

The abduction and murder of school girl Leanne Tiernan led to the biggest manhunt in Yorkshire forces’s history. When Leanne’s body was found in woodland nine months after her disappearance, a post-mortem revealed that it had only been there for a few weeks.

‘She had been missing for nine months before police found her body, but they soon learned she’d only just been buried there. Which begged the question; where had she been kept before?’ – Elly Griffiths, ‘Written in Blood’

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

Crime is a way of life for the Devlin brothers. Groomed at an early age and trained as criminals by local gangsters, the Devlin brothers get their thrill out of creating fear amongst their victims.

The Boarded Barn Murders: When the Killing Starts by R.C. Bridgestock

Bob Bridgestock was one of the officers who worked on the investigation into the Boarded Barn Murders. The shocking murder of two women in the leafy rural village inspired him to write When the Killing Starts with his wife, ex-police civilian supervisor Carol.

‘This was the one case that stuck with me throughout my career. It was just the most appalling double murder’ – RC Bridgestock, ‘Written in Blood’

Groomed at an early age and trained as criminals by local gangsters, the Devlin brothers get their thrill out of creating fear amongst their victims. They have a macabre pact; not to be arrested or caged.

So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

The Gangland Murders: Born Bad by Marnie Riches

Marnie Riches grew up in Manchester, where gang violence and turf wars have shaped the criminal landscape. The murder of gang leader ‘White Tony’ Johnson was the inspiration for her book Born Bad.

‘These are dangerous people. I remember being in those places, I grew up here, and the violence was all around.’ – Marnie Riches, ‘Written in Blood’

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

When the bones of a 21-year old woman who went missing without trace in Thailand in 1990, are discovered in the grounds of an old Catholic school in Buckinghamshire, an enduring mystery takes on a whole new twist.

The Paedophile Ring: The Bone Field by Simon Kernick

The abduction and murder of 7 year old Mark Tildesley provided the inspiration behind Simon Kernick’s The Bone Field. The police investigation was one of the longest and most complex cases, leading them to a ring of adults willing to do the most despicable things under the guidance of their leader.

‘I grew up not far from here, and when Mark disappeared nobody could understand it. When I found out what had happened to him, I felt physically sick.’ – Simon Kernick, ‘Written in Blood’

When the bones of a 21-year old woman who went missing in Thailand in 1990 are discovered in the grounds of an old Catholic school in Buckinghamshire, an enduring mystery takes on a whole new twist.

Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. An unprecedented amount of police resource went into finding her, but to no avail. Until now.

The Moors Murders: The Search by Howard Linskey

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were two of the most notorious killers of the 20th century, having tortured and murdered five children and buried them on the moors. The location of the victims’ bodies was a source of power-play between the killers and the police right up until their deaths.

‘Ian Brady was a man who had nothing to lose, and who enjoyed nothing more than taunting the authorities with his actions. He demanded control, even from behind bars.’ – Howard Linskey, ‘Written in Blood’

Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. In the past, convicted serial killer Adrian Wicklow repeatedly lied about where Susan’s body is buried – playing a sick game from behind bars. But this time, he says, he’ll tell the truth. Because Adrian Wicklow is dying.

Interested to read more? You can find more books about true crimes online and in WHSmith stores..

In new documentary series – Written in Blood – Simon Toyne explores the crimes behind these stories with the authors that researched them for their books. You can catch Written in Blood on Sundays at 10:00pm from 3rd September, exclusively on CBS Reality.