7 Popular Crime Novels You Probably Didn't Know Were Based On Chilling True Stories

From serial killers to creepy cults – these stories are all based on real crimes.

An already disturbing premise is made much more disturbing when you find out it’s based on true events. These seven popular books weren’t just made up; they have roots in some very real crimes.

1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson’s 2005 novel, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," was inspired by the real-life case of Catrine da Costa. She was a 28-year-old prostitute and heroin addict who was murdered in Stockholm. Her body parts were found scattered in the Swedish city during in the summer of 1984.

Many believe that she was killed by two doctors, one of which was a forensic pathologist.

2. A Clockwork Orange

The 1962 book and the 1971 movie based on it are unquestionably unsettling. Author Anthony Burgess’s dystopian England and the violent teens that run it are based on the Teddy Boys subculture of post-war England and gangs in the Soviet Union.

He was additionally influenced by his first wife’s experience with a gang of US soldiers. They viciously beat and robbed her during the London blackout of 1944.

3. Psycho

The movie "Psycho" is based on the 1959 Robert Bloch book by the same name. Killer Norman Bates is actually based on real murderer Ed Gein, who also enjoyed exhuming corpses from graveyards and keeping their skin and bones around the house. He made lamps, couches, belts and wastebaskets out of human skin and body parts.

4. The Girls

Emma Cline's 2016 novel is about a girl who becomes a player in a California cult's killing spree during the 1960s. She joined the cult to get away from her troubled family. The book is based on the crimes of the Manson Family, led by the notorious Charles Manson. In 1969, Charles Manson ordered some of his cult members to murder a pregnant Sharon Tate and three of her friends. Group members were responsible for the murders of two others.

The Manson Family was a cult that rose up in the late 1960s, led by Charles Manson, who implied that he was Jesus and his followers were the reincarnation of the original Christians.

5. Room

"Room" is written from the perspective of a 5-year-old boy who is being held captive in a small room with his mother. Emma Donoghue’s idea for the 2010 book came after studying the case of Elizabeth Fritzl.

In 2008, she told police that she was held captive for 24 years by her father. During that time, she gave birth to seven children. Four of them were held in captivity with Fritzl.

6. The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous 1925 novel is about a poor North Dakota farm boy, Gatsby, who transformed himself into a wealthy playboy by getting involved in prohibition. His business partner, gangster Meyer Wolfsheim “fixed” the 1919 World Series in the novel. The character of Wolfsheim is based on Arnold Rothstein, a rich gambler who had a role in fixing the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, known as the Black Sox Scandal.

7. The Witchfinder's Sister

This 2017 novel by Beth Underdown is based on 1640s Essex, England and its witch hunts. Protagonist Alice Hopkins fights against her own brother, Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as she discovered that he is causing the deaths of innocent women in their community. Matthew Hopkins is the name of a real witchhunter from that decade. Underdown was inspired by his existence and the terrible events of his time.

[Photo: Amazon, Getty Images]

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