Find out what movies and books inspired this group of bestselling crime fiction writers! Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski, and Lauren Wilkinson joined us online to discuss memorable characters, scenes, and twists from their favorite crime fiction films and literature.
Quinn Colson Series
By Ace Atkins
Published by Putnam
Selected by Megan Abbott
After years of war, Army Ranger Quinn Colson returns home to the rugged, rough hill country of northeast Mississippi to find his native Tibbehah County overrun with corruption, decay, meth runners, and violence. His uncle, the longtime county sheriff, is dead. A suicide, he’s told, but others—like tomboy deputy Lillie Virgil—whisper murder.
In the days that follow, it’s up to Colson to discover the truth, not only about his uncle, but about his family, his friends, his town, and himself. And once it’s discovered, there’s no going back for this real hero of the Deep South.
Your House Will Pay
By Steph Cha
Published by HarperCollins
Selected by Lauren Wilkinson
In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She’s distraught that her sister hasn’t spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace’s understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale.
But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence..
Strangers on a Train
By Patricia Highsmith
Published by WW Norton
Selected by Alison Gaylin
The world of Patricia Highsmith has always been filled with ordinary people, all of whom are capable of very ordinary crimes. This theme was present from the beginning, when her debut, Strangers on a Train, galvanized the reading public. Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. “Some people are better off dead,” Bruno remarks, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.
The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 film, Strangers on a Train launched Highsmith on a prolific career of noir fiction, proving her a master at depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.
By Ira Levin
Published by WW Norton
Selected by Jonathan Santlofer
Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and mostly elderly residents. Neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome the Woodhouses to the building, and despite Rosemary’s reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband takes a shine to them.
Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant—and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare. As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets’ circle is not what it seems….
That Left Turn at Albuquerque
By Scott Phillips
Published by SOHO PRESS
Selected by Duane Swierczynski
Douglas Rigby, attorney-at-law, is bankrupt. He’s just sunk his last $200,000—a clandestine “loan” from his last remaining client, former bigshot TV exec Glenn Haskill—into a cocaine deal gone wrong. The lesson? Never trust anyone else with the dirty work. Desperate to get back on top, Rigby formulates an art forgery scheme involving one of Glenn’s priceless paintings, a victimless crime. But for Rigby to pull this one off, he’ll need to negotiate a whole cast of players with their own agendas, including his wife, his girlfriend, an embittered art forger, Glenn’s resentful nurse, and the man’s money-hungry nephew. One misstep, and it all falls apart—will he be able to save his skin?
Written with hard-knock sensibility and wicked humor, Scott Phillips’s newest novel will cement him as one of the great crime writers of the 21st century.