True crime, but fiction. Image of a typewriter with clues and pictures in the background.

True Crime, But Fiction

Each of these books recalls, or is in conversation with, a notorious true crime case. The case referenced in each book is noted in parentheses at the end of the description.

Alias Grace / Margaret Atwood
It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. Also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive. (Murder of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery)

An American Tragedy / Theodore Dreiser
Drawing on a notorious murder case from 1910 in which the impoverished son of street preachers commits an act of terrible violence and is surrounded by political corruptions and social hypocrisies throughout his trial, the author’s vision of the dark side of American life looks at the failings of the American dream through the story of the rise and fall of Clyde Griffiths, a man who sacrifices everything in his desperate quest for success. Also available as an audiobook and ebook on hoopladigital. (Murder of Grace Brown)

Bright Young Women / Jessica Knoll
When two women vanish without a trace in the summer of 1978, Tina Cannon believes they are targets of the All-American Sex Killer. When she learns about the massacre at a Florida State University sorority, Tina heads to the Sunshine State where she is on a collision course with one last impending tragedy. Also available in Large Print, and as an audiobook and ebook on Libby/OverDrive. (Chi Omega Sorority Murders)

Burial Rites / Hannah Kent
In 1829 Iceland, Agnes, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tâoti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. (Execution of Agnes Magnúsdóttir)

Freedomland / Richard Price
A white woman, her hands gashed and bloody, stumbles into an inner-city emergency room and announces that she has just been carjacked by a Black man. But then comes the horrifying twist: her young son was asleep in the back seat, and he has now disappeared into the night. Price relates the emotionally charged story of the woman and the Black detective who suspects her of infanticide. (Murder of Michael and Alexander Smith)

The Girls / Emma Cline
Mesmerized by a band of girls in the park she perceives as enjoying a life of free and careless abandon, lonely and thoughtful teenager Evie Boyd becomes obsessed with gaining acceptance into their circle, only to find herself drawn into a cult and seduced by its charismatic leader. Also available in Large Print, on audio CD, and as an audiobook and ebook from Libby/OverDrive. (The Manson Family)

Girls Like Us / Cristina Alger
Investigating the grisly murders of Ria Ruiz and Adriana Marques on Long Island, FBI agent Nell Flynn is horrified to discover that the primary suspect is her own recently deceased father, a former homicide detective. Plagued by doubts about her own mother’s murder – and her own role in exonerating her father in that case – Nell can’t help but ask questions. But she may not like the answers she finds, not just about those she loves, but about herself. Also available in Large Print and as an audiobook in Libby/OverDrive. (Gilgo Beach Murders)

Little Deaths / Emma Flint
It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone, a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress, wakes to discover her two small children have gone missing. Later that day, one body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, the other child’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth. Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the case. Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive. (Murder of Eddie and Missy Crimmins)

The Long Drop / Denise Mina
In 1950s Glasgow, a household of women are found slaughtered in their beds. The father, William Watt, has a cast iron alibi but police are convinced he is guilty. Determined to clear his name, Watt lets it be known that he will pay for information. Career criminal Peter Manuel steps forward with compelling details only the murderer could know, and he spends twelve hours with Watt, driving and drinking through the city. A novel about guilt, innocence, and the power of a good story to hide the difference. (Serial killer Beast of Birkenshaw)

The Perfect Nanny / Leila Slimani
When Myriam decides to return to work as a lawyer after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their son and daughter. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. (Murder of Lucia and Leo Krim)

See What I Have Done / Sarah Schmidt
On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: “someone’s killed Father”. The brutal axe-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed. Also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive. (Borden Axe Murders)

The Two Mrs. Grenvilles / Dominick Dunne
When Billy Grenville, heir to a vast New York fortune, sees showgirl Ann Arden on the dance floor, it is love at first sight. Much to the horror of Alice Grenville, the indomitable family matriarch, he marries her. Ann wants desperately to be accepted by high society and become the well-bred woman of her fantasies. But a gunshot one rainy night propels Ann into a notorious spotlight as the two Mrs. Grenvilles enter into a conspiracy of silence that will bind them together for as long as they live. (The Shooting of the Century/Ann Woodward)

What Happened to Nina? / Dervla McTiernan

Nina and Simon are the perfect couple: young, fun, and deeply in love. They leave for a weekend at his family’s cabin in Vermont, and only Simon comes home. Simon’s explanation about what happened in their last hours together doesn’t add up; Nina’s parents push the police for answers and Simon’s parents rush to protect him. Nina’s family is under siege, but they never lose sight of the only thing that really matters: finding their daughter. (Murder of Gabby Petito)

The Wicked Girls / Alex Marwood
On a fateful summer morning in 1986, two eleven-year-old girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they will both be charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside vacation town when her investigation leads her to interview carnival cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day so many years ago. With new, vastly different lives and unknowing families to protect will they really be able to keep their secret hidden? Also available as an audiobook on hoopladigital. (Murder of James Bulger)