The best and bloodiest true crimes that inspired fiction

Who am I?

An experienced genealogist, I became fascinated by true historical crime reports when I found murderers in my family tree. Since then, I have written ten historical mystery books featuring true unsolved crimes. My novels re-imagine what might have happened had the killers been brought to justice. My background in genealogy and vast experience trawling through historical newspaper reports has given me a passion for the past and a desire to resolve the unknown.


I wrote...

Vote For Murder: A Suffragette Murder Mystery

By Jacqueline Beard,

Book cover of Vote For Murder: A Suffragette Murder Mystery

What is my book about?

While hiding in a museum to evade the census, suffragette Louisa Russell discovers a diary belonging to a poisoner. And not just any poisoner, but the infamous Mary Cage executed for killing her husband decades earlier. When Louisa’s next-door neighbour dies under suspicious circumstances, the parallels between the two deaths become impossible to ignore. But can there be a link between deaths sixty years apart? And will Louisa find the poisoner before they convict an innocent woman? Vote for Murder is a historical mystery based on a true crime.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Death of Lucy Kyte

Jacqueline Beard Why did I love this book?

This book is close to my heart as it started my writing career. The Death of Lucy Kyte is the fifth book in the Josephine Tey mystery novels based on a true Suffolk crime dubbed The Red Barn murders. I loved the way the book weaved between past and present, and the skill employed by the author in creating a fictional work from an actual historical crime. Not only did it offer me a series of mystery books, which I loved, but it set me on the path to penning my own novels in a similar genre.

By Nicola Upson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Death of Lucy Kyte as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A house that can't rest
A crime that won't fade...

When crime writer Josephine Tey inherited a remote Suffolk cottage from her godmother, it came full of secrets. Sorting through the artefacts of her godmother's life, Josephine is intrigued by an infamous murder committed near the cottage a century before. Yet this old crime - dubbed the Red barn murder - still seems to haunt the tight-knit village and its remote inhabitants.

As Josephine settles into the house, she knows that something dark has a tight hold on the heart of this small community. Is it just the ghosts of…


Book cover of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

Jacqueline Beard Why did I love this book?

This riveting book covers the gruesome discovery of a murder in a Georgian house in the sleepy village of Road in Wiltshire. That someone has died is awful enough but realising that the murderer is a member of the household brings fresh horrors. The author meticulously follows the crime and subsequent investigation, sticking strictly to the facts while using her imagination to recreate the tense atmosphere while bringing the characters to life. Unputdownable.

By Kate Summerscale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ WINNER OF THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER A RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK _______________ 'A remarkable achievement' - Sunday Times 'A classic, to my mind, of the finest documentary writing' - John le Carre 'Absolutely riveting' - Sarah Waters, Guardian _______________ On a summer's morning in 1860, the Kent family awakes in their elegant Wiltshire home to a terrible discovery; their youngest son has been brutally murdered. When celebrated detective Jack Whicher is summoned from Scotland Yard he faces the unenviable task of identifying the killer - when the grieving family are the…


Book cover of Murder on the Orient Express

Jacqueline Beard Why did I love this book?

My favourite childhood author, Christie, frequently used true crime as inspiration for her novels and the starting point of Murder on the Orient Express is the real-life kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s heir. The author has cleverly set the crime on a train in a snowstorm, effectively trapping the murderer and suspects under the nose of her most famous creation, Hercule Poirot. The twists and turns culminate in an ending you won’t see coming if not familiar with the story, making this book a joy to read.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Murder on the Orient Express as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MOST WIDELY READ MYSTERY OF ALL TIME—NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY KENNETH BRANAGH AND PRODUCED BY RIDLEY SCOTT!

“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s…


Book cover of Lestrade and the Ripper

Jacqueline Beard Why did I love this book?

No true crime list would be complete without reference to the infamous Jack the Ripper, and of the many books I have read, this one stands out. True, the subject is gory, and for that reason, some might think that humour is out of place, but I like the bumbling detective Lestrade, and the author clearly knows his stuff. The detailed historical research accurately portrays the setting and times of the novel. Trow brings a different approach to a Sherlock Holmes-type story with an easy-to-read and witty style in a book well worth trying.

By M. J. Trow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lestrade and the Ripper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book three in the Inspector Lestrade series.

In the year 1888, London was horrified by a series of brutal killings. All the victims were discovered in the same district, Whitechapel, and they were all prostitutes. But they weren’t the only murders to perplex the brains of Scotland Yard. In Brighton, the body of one Edmund Gurney was also found.

Foremost among the Yard’s top men was the young Inspector Sholto Lestrade and it was to his lot that the un-solved cases of a deceased colleague fell. Cases that included the murder of Martha Tabram, formerly a prostitute from Whitechapel, and…


Book cover of A Good Marriage

Jacqueline Beard Why did I love this book?

While technically a novella, this profoundly disturbing story takes inspiration from the notorious BTK killer of the 1970s. BTK, alias Dennis Rader, killed at least ten people, yet his wife of 34 years denied ever knowing anything about his murderous exploits. Stephen King develops the story to show what it would be like for a happily married wife to discover suddenly that her husband has a hitherto unknown, sinister hobby. A chilling and thought-provoking read.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Good Marriage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristen Connelly, Joan Allen, and Anthony La Paglia, Stephen King’s short story, “A Good Marriage” from Full Dark, No Stars is now available as a stand-alone audio edition!

Bob Anderson, Darcy’s husband of more than twenty years, is away on one of his business trips, when his unsuspecting wife looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers she doesn’t know her husband at all, but rather has been living with a stranger. This horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, could be…


You might also like...

Oaky With a Hint of Murder

By Dawn Brotherton,

Book cover of Oaky With a Hint of Murder

Dawn Brotherton

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Aury and Scott travel to the Finger Lakes in New York’s wine country to get to the bottom of the mysterious happenings at the Songscape Winery. Disturbed furniture and curious noises are one thing, but when a customer winds up dead, it’s time to dig into the details and see what ferments.

Is there any truth to the Native American legends that cluster near Seneca Lake? Is the warrior’s disapproval of wineries growing legs? Aury will need to pour over the clues to unearth the mystery before the winery’s reputation is crushed. With the annual wine festival just around the corner, Aury harvests more than she bargained for when the killer tries to bottle her up for good.

Oaky With a Hint of Murder

By Dawn Brotherton,

What is this book about?

Aury and Scott travel to the Finger Lakes in New York's wine country to get to the bottom of the mysterious happenings at the Songscape Winery. Disturbed furniture and curious noises are one thing, but when a customer winds up dead, it's time to dig into the details and see what ferments.


Is there any truth to the Native American legends that cluster near Seneca Lake? Is the warrior's disapproval of wineries growing legs?


Aury will need to pour over the clues to unearth the mystery before the winery's reputation is crushed. With the annual wine festival just around the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, murder mystery, and private investigators?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, murder mystery, and private investigators.

Murder Explore 891 books about murder
Murder Mystery Explore 469 books about murder mystery
Private Investigators Explore 277 books about private investigators