The most recommended femme fatale books

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to femme fatale, and here are their favorite femme fatale books.
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Book cover of The Female Offender

Judith A. Yates Author Of When Nashville Bled: The untold stories of serial killer Paul Dennis Reid

From my list on true crime books to keep on your shelf.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning true crime author, criminologist, and victims advocate who has written and presented on crime for over 30 years. I know that history teaches us how and why crime occurs and why it will happen again, but crime doesn't happen in a vacuum. History, personality, and human nature all play a part. There is always a "story behind the story." I appreciate true crime books that teach us rather than sensationalize. The faster we share knowledge, the easier it is to catch criminals.

Judith's book list on true crime books to keep on your shelf

Judith A. Yates Why did Judith love this book?

Why are female criminals "ugly"? Italian criminologist Professor Caesar Lombroso discusses crime causation, justice systems, penology, and the female offender. Lombroso rallied for humane treatment of inmates, advocating programs to reform the penal system, and believed both generated a better society. He argued that criminal behavior is inherited and categorizing offenders as: crimes of passion, aka "lunatics", occasional offenders, and born criminals. He also tried to identify them by physical attributes: the skull, features, and tattooing. 

Lombroso's atavistic theories initially seem outdated - and even laughable - but are still practiced today. "(S)he looks like a criminal" is something you commonly hear. Or, people instantly judge someone's tattoos. Lombroso's approach is still utilized in true crime media. The case becomes more interesting when perpetrators are attractive. Even the monikers for female criminals are modified: femme fatale, black widow, she-devil. Readers will enjoy the contrast/comparison to 1900s criminology. The Female Offender…

By Cesare Lombroso,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Dating a Vampire

C. Y. Croc Author Of Matched to Xycho

From my list on sci-fi romance and fantasy with unearthly beings.

Who am I?

UK-born CY Croc started her career in the health industry, but later changed professions after obtaining a postgraduate degree in teaching. It was while teaching she discovered her dream profession. An author was invited to the school to showcase her latest book. Inspired, CY wrote over 30 books in the next 3 years in contemporary, sci-fi, and paranormal romance. She loves to include positive subliminal messages in her stories about body image, prejudice, and love from a higher realm and always practices inclusion in her writing. Her main characters practice autonomy and come from all races. CY believes everyone should experience love, and that's why some of her protagonists are not of this world.

C. Y.'s book list on sci-fi romance and fantasy with unearthly beings

C. Y. Croc Why did C. Y. love this book?

Don’t let this quirky cover fool you. The pages of this book are smoking hot at times. This is book 1 in a novella series dedicated to hooking up paranormals. It kicks off a dating series with an opposites attract trope, featuring two paranormal beings who couldn’t be more different—a witch and a vampire. This is a light-hearted romance that leaves you thirsty for book 2 and wanting to know what otherworldly beings will be featured.

By Abbey MacMunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dating a Vampire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Witch Harper Clarke is pretty sure misfortune follows her around like a bad smell. Her spells end in disaster, her dating agency for supernaturals has an embarrassing lack of clients, and her love life is a washout. So, when a vampire signs up to the agency and she can’t find him a match, she agrees to date the vamp herself.

Charmer Damon Vertefeuille has it all: power, status, and wealth. Becoming a vampire to get his errant brother out of trouble isn’t what he expected. Newbie vamps aren’t supposed to be dangerous, but one look at his witchy date and…


Book cover of Murder, I Spy

Olga Mecking Author Of Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

From Olga's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Journalist Translator Mother Multilingual

Olga's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Olga Mecking Why did Olga love this book?

For the sake of transparency, I need to say the author is a friend but I enjoyed Oxford Key Mysteries and this new series seemed like something I’d like.

While Lynn’s previous series is a cozy mystery with some fantastical elements, the genre of this one is pure cozy mystery. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for dual POVs and Murder, I Spy has that, alternating between the perspectives of Dora and Rex, a femme fatale and an aristocrat, respectively. 

And then you also have London in the 1920ies and what looks like to be a dazzling relationship.

This book left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside, wanting for more. Luckily, it’s a series so I know I’ll get the next one real soon.

By Lynn Morrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder, I Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a bright young man teams up with a glamorous femme fatale, the identity of a murderer won't be the only secret they'll unmask.

London, 1922. Between gallivanting in his Rolls-Royce and darkening the doorways of London's hotspots, Lord Reginald “Rex” Bankes-Fernsby has almost succeeded in banishing the battlefield nightmares that plague his sleep. Pity he can't say the same about that nagging lack of direction in his life.

If only he were like his best friend Freddie - self-assured, suave, and up to his ears in secrets. But when Freddie is murdered, Rex doubts the verdict. Was Freddie really…


Book cover of A Clubbable Woman

Catherine Maiorisi Author Of A Matter of Blood

From my list on mysteries that feature two detectives.

Who am I?

I write the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker. Most mysteries have a single main character so I’m passionate about finding other authors who write mysteries with two professional investigators as main characters. It’s fascinating to see how authors writing the same type of characters handle them and what they do about character growth over the course of the series. To me, watching two characters react to each other, seeing their relationship change over the course of a book or a series is much more interesting than reading about a single detective.

Catherine's book list on mysteries that feature two detectives

Catherine Maiorisi Why did Catherine love this book?

I seem to be addicted to long-running series with British detectives, though not all written by British authors, and A Clubbable Woman is the first book in this twenty-one-book series by Reginald Hill.

When I began to write fiction and worked on creating Corelli and Parker, Hill was one of the authors I looked to for inspiration. Although his Yorkshire detectives, the abrupt and rude Detective Superintendent Andrew "Andy" Dalziel and the educated, calm, and well-mannered Detective Sergeant Peter Pascoe, did not fit my vision for my own characters, I enjoyed their antics and read the entire series. The books are fun and challenging and this is a great beginning.

By Reginald Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel investigates a murder close to home in this first crime novel featuring the much-loved detective team of Dalziel and Pascoe.

'So far out in front that he need not bother looking over his shoulder' Sunday Telegraph

Home from the rugby club after taking a nasty knock in a match, Sam Connon finds his wife more uncommunicative than usual. After passing out on his bed for a few hours, he comes downstairs to discover communication has been cut off forever - by a hole in the middle of her forehead.

Andy Dalziel, a long-standing member of the…


Book cover of High Life

Andersen Prunty Author Of Sociopaths in Love

From my list on dark fiction for aspiring sociopaths.

Who am I?

Ever since reading Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in high school, I’ve always appreciated books and stories that can tackle dark subject matter in a completely deadpan way. The creator knows what they’re doing is kind of a joke and they’re inviting you along for the ride. I enjoy reading books where I think the writer had a really good time writing it, even if that means occasionally torturing the reader.

Andersen's book list on dark fiction for aspiring sociopaths

Andersen Prunty Why did Andersen love this book?

High Life is pitch black Hollywood noir. It’s one of those rare books that starts out dark and just keeps getting darker and more disturbing. Stokoe outdoes himself on nearly every page. This book was shocking and eye-opening, even for me. I’ve read a lot of extreme horror and I think this might outdo nearly all of them. Stokoe manages to fully flesh out the characters, rendering them terrifying, absurd, and profoundly sad, and does so with a style that is compulsively readable.

By Matthew Stokoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked High Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hollywood. The City of Dreams at the end of the nineties. Jack has one ambition – to get famous. He doesn’t care how. He just wants to be like the people he sees in tabloid magazines and on TV: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom and Nicole, Arnie, Bruce, Sly.... But the desire for fame has a dark side and he finds himself in a world of drugs and crime, whores, snuff shows, incest, deceit and despair. When his wife is found dead – murdered and disemboweled – and the search for her killer leads him to the femme fatale of…


Book cover of Taken by Midnight

Selene Kallan Author Of Huntress Prey

From my list on vampires with a unique, spicy bite.

Who am I?

I’m a paranormal fantasy author who loves vampires. They’re my favorite supernatural creatures. I think my obsession with vamps started when I saw Underworld for the first time. I had watched Blade before and thought, “I’d like to see a movie with just as much action but also romance” and voila! Some prefer the darker, less romantic vampire stories in which the bloodsuckers are monsters, but I prefer to read and write stories where they’re more than just their hunger. So if you’re like me and like a good combination of vampire action and seduction, you will probably enjoy the books on my list. 

Selene's book list on vampires with a unique, spicy bite

Selene Kallan Why did Selene love this book?

I love the entire Midnight Breed series. The lore is unlike what I've ever seen in most vampire books. The vampire race was born from alien fathers and human mothers with special talents. These vamps can see their reflections, are not allergic to holy water, and are very much alive. So sexily alive. I spent a solid hour trying to choose one favorite book from this series. They’re all so bloody good! However, Taken by Midnight has some of my fave tropes: badass heroine, protective but gentle hero, interracial relationship, and all the spice. If you like vampires with a unique twist, you’ll love this series.

By Lara Adrian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Taken by Midnight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her desire for revenge is ice cold...

In the frozen wilds of the Alaskan interior, former state trooper Jenna Darrow was taken hostage by a deadly vampire who terrorized her for hours, feeding on her blood and leaving her more dead than alive. But Jenna did survive - albeit as an altered being...

Now Jenna wants revenge on that vampire, and for that she must turn to the very race of beings who terrify her the most: the Breed. But of all the Breed warriors it is Brock, the immense, forbidding male who makes Jenna feel most at ease. Even…


Book cover of Innocents and Others

J.M. Donellan Author Of Rumors of Her Death

From my list on a list for liars and people who deal with them.

Who am I?

I first started lying as a child and was fascinated to discover that the art of deception could turn into full-time employment as either a politician or an author (I choose the one with moderately better hours and substantially worse pay). As someone who crafts elaborate lies for the purposes of entertainment, I remain fascinated by people who lie for nefarious ends, something I swear I’d never do. (Except for the time I snuck into a music festival by pretending to be one of the catering staff, earning me the dubious distinction of being one of very few people to ever appear in a Metallica moshpit wearing a waiter’s uniform.) 

J.M.'s book list on a list for liars and people who deal with them

J.M. Donellan Why did J.M. love this book?

In an age of constant digital deception, it was utterly fascinating to read the story of someone who manipulates people through the simple use of a phone call.

The plot follows two filmmakers, Carrie and Meadow, the latter of whom makes a documentary about “Nicole”, a woman who seduced an array of Hollywood heavy hitters armed with nothing more than a telephone. The novel unfolds through multiple perspectives and timeframes that begin as disparate but are slowly woven together by Spiotta’s expert hand.

The plot itself is fascinating, but Spiotta’s stylistic and thematic mastery are a wonder to behold. Sidenote: Nicole is loosely based on the true story of Whitney Walton, on whom Jen Silverman also did a brilliant take in her audiobook The Miranda Obsession (performed by Rachel Brosnahan).

By Dana Spiotta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Innocents and Others as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Spiotta is a wonder.' - George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo

Meadow Mori and Carrie Wexler grew up together in Los Angeles, and both became film-makers.

Meadow makes challenging documentaries; Carrie makes successful feature films with a feminist slant. The two friends have everything in common - except their views on sex, power, movie-making and morality. And yet their loyalty trumps their different approaches to film and to life.

Until, one day, a mysterious woman with a unique ability to cold-call and seduce powerful men over the phone - not through sex, but through listening - becomes the…


Book cover of Titanium Noir

Gareth Southwell Author Of MUNKi

From Gareth's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Luddite Philosopher Book designer & Illustrator Sci-fi writer Hermit

Gareth's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gareth Southwell Why did Gareth love this book?

The best sci-fi has a lived-in feel – think of the polluted, grimy futurism of Blade Runner or Alien.

This is something that it has in common with noir fiction. Compare, say, the cyberpunk of  William Gibson with the gritty, hard-boiled detective fiction of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett – take out the sci-fi elements, and they could be writing about the same world.

In Titanium Noir, Nick Harkaway imagines just that. It is a razor-sharp pastiche, combining the best tropes of the gum-shoe genre – the femme fatale, the world-weary PI, corrupt cops, and menacing crime bosses – with an intriguing sci-fi premise: What if someone invented a drug that made youth eternal? What influence and power would such people wield? And what would happen if one of them mysteriously died?

By Nick Harkaway,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Titanium Noir as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A virtuosic mashup of Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler by way of Marvel—the story of a detective investigating the murder of a Titan, one of society’s most powerful, medically-enhanced elites. • “Cross-genre brilliance from the superbly talented Nick Harkaway.” —William Gibson, New York Times best-selling author of Agency

"An exemplar of its genre, Titanium Noir twists and turns between excellent fun and deep melancholy." —The New York Times Book Review

Cal Sounder is a detective working for the police on certain very sensitive cases. So when he’s called in to investigate a homicide at a local apartment, he’s surprised…


Book cover of The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing

Martin Edwards Author Of The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators

From my list on crime fiction, the world’s most popular genre.

Who am I?

I am a storyteller and I conceived The Life of Crime as the ‘life story’ of a fascinating and truly diverse genre. I’ve always been intrigued by the ups and downs of literary lives, and the book explores the rollercoaster careers of writers from across the world. The chapter endnotes contain masses of trivia and information, as well as some original research, that I hope readers will find enjoyable as well as interesting. But The Life of Crime isn’t an academic text. It’s a love letter to a genre that I’ve adored for as long as I can remember.  

Martin's book list on crime fiction, the world’s most popular genre

Martin Edwards Why did Martin love this book?

I dreamed for many years of writing a book about crime fiction. I’m primarily a crime novelist, but so was Julian Symons, and the experience of writing fiction is invaluable when discussing other writers and understanding what they were trying to do. I approached Oxford University Press, with a view to producing a Companion about the genre, comprising essays by writers including myself. This led to a fruitful meeting with an OUP editor and novelist, Michael Cox, but the project was stillborn when his American colleagues had commissioned just such a book, to be edited by Rosemary Herbert. Rosemary invited me to contribute twenty-odd essays to her Companion, and I found the work of my fellow contributors (including Symons) a delight to read.

By Rosemary Herbert (editor), Catherine Aird (editor), John M. Reilly (editor) , Susan Oleksiw (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This companion is a one-volume, alphabetically arranged encyclopedia exploring the full range of literature suggested by the title. The 672 articles range from brief factual pieces to longer synthetic treatments of topics of central thematic interest.


Book cover of Canary in the Coal Mine

Steven Jankowski Author Of Below the Line

From my list on noir crime with characters that aren’t detectives.

Who am I?

As a screenwriter I’ve always enjoyed noir stories, whether books or movies. Stories where the characters are not your squeaky-clean “good guys.” I like to see “ordinary” people; people who are flawed (like all of us), or maybe with a shady past, who are swayed or manipulated by dire circumstances into doing something they would not ordinarily do. I enjoy stories with unique, interesting characters that are not your run-of-the-mill private eyes, and whose moral compass might be a bit off. I particularly like stories where characters are forced to become investigators because of a situation they are thrust into, whether by accident or by their own dubious actions. 

Steven's book list on noir crime with characters that aren’t detectives

Steven Jankowski Why did Steven love this book?

Okay, so this main character is Private Investigator, but I loved this book. A good flawed, dubious, tough-guy main character, a sexy femme fatale, dangerous mobsters, and lots of keep-you-guessing plot twists and turns. This page-turner, with great, witty, wise-guy banter, fulfills all that this Neo-Noir Crime Novel fan craves for.  

By Charles Salzberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Canary in the Coal Mine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PI Pete Fortunato, half-Italian, half-Jewish, who suffers from anger management issues and insomnia, wakes up one morning with a bad taste in his mouth. This is never a good sign. Working out of a friend’s downtown real estate office, Fortunato, who spent a mysteriously short, forgettable stint as a cop in a small upstate New York town, lives from paycheck to paycheck. So, when a beautiful woman wants to hire him to find her husband, he doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Within a day, Fortunato finds the husband in the apartment of his client’s young, stud lover. He’s been shot…