In the mood for a great crime thriller? There are plenty to choose from on Netflix—and many of them also happen to be based on terrific books. Get caught up in a memorable James Lee Burke “Dave Robicheaux” mystery, a twisty noir tale by pulp master Jim Thompson, an Elmore Leonard classic, or a psychological thriller by suspense novelist Patricia Highsmith. Or dive into the rollicking tale of a trio of moonshine-running brothers in Lawless, then stream the film, with an outstanding soundtrack by Nick Cave (who also wrote the screenplay).
Craving true crime? Read about the investigation that went into the bust of the century in The French Connection, then watch the nail-biting chase sequence and Oscar-winning performance by Gene Hackman. And we wouldn’t have Al Pacino as NYPD whistle-blower Frank Serpico or Michael Shannon as an ice-cold mob assassin without the best-selling books about the real men who made headlines.
Films on Netflix are subject to change, but these books are always a great read.
Serpico movie still courtesy The Telegraph
In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead
In his sixth Dave Robicheaux adeventure, James Lee Burke’s Louisiana detective must deal with a serial killer who preys on prostitutes, a Civil War film’s drunken star and a brutal killing from Robicheaux’s past. The film, simply called In the Electric Mist, stars Tommy Lee Jones as Robicheaux and was directed by Bertrand Tavernier (‘Round Midnight, Coup De Torchon).
Matt Bondurant chronicled the violent exploits of his grandfather and two granduncles, The Bondurant Boys, a notorious gang of roughnecks and moonshiners who made Franklin County “the wettest county in the world” during Prohibition. Publishers Weekly raved, “It’s a gripping, relentless tale, delivered in no-nonsense prose.” The film, from Australian director John Hillcoat, stars Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce.
From famed pulp novelist Jim Thompson comes this tale of three hardbitten con artists: Roy, his mother Lilly, and his mistress Moira, who are all busy working their own angles in a game with fatal consequences. The crackling 1990 film starred John Cusack and earned Oscar nominations for Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening, director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Donald E. Westlake (himself a prolific crime novelist).
One of the most beloved of modern crime writers, Elmore Leonard’s works inspired the FX series Justified and the films Get Shorty and Out of Sight. Quentin Tarantino adapted Leonard’s 1992 novel into the 1997 hit Jackie Brown, starring Pam Grier as flight attendant Jackie, whose sideline as a courier for a gunrunner gets her in some very hot water. People called it “Leonard’s best work.”
The Two Faces of January
Suspense writer Highsmith, best known for Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, often wrote about two men who, in one form or other, trade lives. In this 1964 novel, a man impulsively decides to help a stranger dispose of a body. What begins as an odd friendship soon becomes an elaborate battle for survival. Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst starred in the 2014 film version.
The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy
A page-turning true account of the months-long narcotics investigation that led to the biggest heroin bust in New York and the arrests of international crime syndicate heads; It’s considered one of the best true-crime books ever written. The action-packed 1971 film won Oscars for Best Picture, Director (William Friedkin), Actor (Gene Hackman), Editing and Screenplay.
The true story behind the uncompromising NYPD cop, Frank Serpico, who blew the whistle on rampant police corruption in 1970 and was nearly killed for it. Maas’s best-selling book became the basis for the 1973 Sidney Lumet film, starring Al Pacino as Serpico. Pacino was nominated for an Oscar and the film helped make him one of the biggest stars of the ’70s.
The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer
Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski was the most notorious professional hitman in American history, who reportedly killed more than 200 people. Carlo (The Night Stalker) takes the stories of his brutal hits straight from the killer’s mouth. The 2013 film stars Michael Shannon as Kuklinski, Ray Liotta as mobster Roy Demeo and Chris Evans as fellow assassin “Mr. Freezy.”