10 Crime TV Shows based on Novels

I love crime novels. I eat them the same way I eat biscuits, entire packets at a time. Only just behind my passion for crime novels in crime television – yes I have seen every episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. So, what happens when you bring the two together and you get a TV show based on an awesome crime novel – nothing short of magic.

Here are ten crime television shows based on even better crime novels that any fan of the genre should definitely have on their watch list.

Babylon Berlin

The novels Der nasse Fisch and Der stumma Tod by Volker Kutscher were made into a lavish German crime program set during the roaring 1920s under the Weimar Republic. The star of the show is Gereon Rath, played by Volker Bruch, a police inspector on a secret mission to expose and destroy an extortion ring. He finds unexpected held in a police clerk flapper, played by Liv Lisa Fries, who dreams of becoming an inspector herself.


Amazon series Bosch is based on the novels by Michael Connelly and focusses on an LA police detective Harry Bosch, played by Titus Welliver. The popular show has now had six series. The character is your typical jaded cop who is willing to bend the rules in order to solve his cases. But is he looking for justice, or does he have his own reasons for wanting to be California’s most successful detective?


Based on the book Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt. It is about a Toronto cop named John Cardinal who moves to the fictional town where he partners up with an ambitious young detective Together they investigate the death of a girl, kidnapped in the summer, but whose body only turned up in the winter in a mine shaft. But how is this crime related to other unusual events happening in the town?

Case Histories

Based on the Jackson Brodie crime series by Kate Atkinson, underrated star Jason Isaacs stars as the Edinburgh detective and former series. In the BBC show maintains the character-driven stories of the books as our detective can’t help but become deeply emotionally involved in all the tragic cases that he investigates.

The Cry

Starring Doctor Who companion favorite Jenna Coleman, this BBC crime drama is based on the novel of the same name by Helen Fitzgerald. New parents Joanna (Coleman) and Alistair (Ewen Leslie) are traveling from Glasgow to his hometown in Australia, when their infant son goes missing. Was he snatched by unknown parties, or are the parents themselves somehow involved?

Frozen Dead

Based on the book of the same name by Bernard Minier, this is a Netflix adaptation set in the French Pyrenees. It features Commandant Martin Zervas, who finds the body of a decapitated horse in the mountains, only to find the DNA of a notorious serial killer on the body. Meanwhile, Diane Berg arrives to work at an insane asylum in the mountains and suspects that her superiors are hiding something from her. An insane asylum in the mountains? Has no-one seen The Shining?!

Inspector Winter

Starring The Bridge’s Magnus Krepper, this Scandinavian noir-crime show follows Inspector Erik Winter as he solves crimes in Gothenburg. The stories are based on the novels by Ake Edwardson, the stories tend to be both psychologically gripping and socially astute.

The Sinner

This American TV series starring Jessica Biel is based on an international bestseller by German author Petra Hammesfahr. The story starts when our main character Cora Bender, played by Biel, inexplicably stabs a man to death while on a family day out. Detective Harry Ambrose, played by Bill Pullman, investigates what could have motivated the crime, and discovers an unexpected world of religious fanaticism.


Based on the books about private investigator Cormoran Strike by Robert Gailbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, the BBC has brought the popular books to life with Tom Burke playing the brisk ex-military police investigator, and charismatic Holliday Grainger playing his ambitious assistant Robin.

The Take

Based on the novel by Martina Cole, TV series is mostly about Freddie Jackson portrayed by Tom Hardy, who is just out of prison. He finds that his young cousin has been making a name for himself on the outside in his absence, and goes about winning back his role as the family’s leading criminal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *