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Gift Ideas: Crime in Fact and Fiction

Gift ideas - crime in fact

For people interested in crime writing we suggest some serious factual books. Some of these have already been adapted for the screen, and we have some historical fiction ripe for dramatisation.

Readable Crime (in Fact)

Michael O’Brien has spent years watching how miscarriages of justice happen and why. In Killing Justice in the Lone Star State: Calling Time on Texas Death Row he describes a killing process aided by an unfair, cruel and defective system ripe for reform. Described as ‘A must read, an excellent new book.’

Eric Cullen’s American Evil: The Psychology of Serial Killers contends that serial killers are ‘made’ and not born. Explaining why certain types of societies are more at risk, he uses clinical experience and a selection of USA/UK serial killer studies to make his case. ‘That elusive beast of literature: something scholarly but also a page turner.’

In the Missing Monument Murders, Judy Stove ‘presents the most amazing evidence and invites the reader to be judge and jury.’ A tale which rubs shoulders with Jane Austen’s family, in a story of such intrigue she could have written it herself.

TV criminologist David Wilson and his academic colleagues have produced a number of excellent works on serious crime, including Serial Killers and the Phenomenon of Serial Murder and Making Sense of Homicide. These are perfect for anyone with an interest in this area, and especially for those considering studies in criminology.

Find more in our Serious Crime and True Stories categories.

Gift ideas - fact into fiction

Dramatised Books

Several non-fiction Waterside Press publications have been used as the basis for dramatizations, bringing some fascinating true stories to a wide audience.

Alan Jackaman’s Napper: Through a Glass Darkly was behind the Channel 4 drama Deceit. Entering the mind of a psychotic killer, the book details police mistakes and misguided media obsession as serial killer Robert Napper eludes justice for 15 years despite a string of horrific London crimes.

Mary Ann Cotton was the inspiration for ITV’s Dark Angel drama series starring Joanne Froggatt. Before the book Cotton was little known outside of her native north east England. Described as ‘fascinating’ and ‘An enthralling read’, the book shows how Cotton used her charm, allure, capability, skill and ambition, took advantage of the times and went undetected as she poisoned her victims to death.

Find more in our True Stories gift category.

Gift ideas - crime in fiction


Crime in Fact and Fiction is a ‘Highly readable’ book all about crime as portrayed in fiction. Brian Block entertainingly highlights differences – with vivid examples, contrasts and comparisons – in the arts compared to reality.

The Stony Ground: The Remembered Life of Convict James Ruse is the tale of a Cornish farmworker transported to Australia (the alternative to hanging), only to ultimately be commemorated as a pioneer. Michael Crowley has created ‘A fascinating, compelling and important account’ – a highly original narrative dramatising a key period in British penal history.

John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee was famous as the only person to cheat death on the gallows after the trapdoor failed to open three times. The Man They Couldn’t Hang is Michael Crowley’s imaginative play set in a down-at-heel northern music hall where the proprietor is bent on reviving the venue’s glory days by persuading the now released John Lee to team up with his equally infamous yet inept executioner James Berry in a perilous double act.

And more…

Find more in our Fiction and Gifts sections.

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