There are many who believe that the crimes portrayed in books can inspire real-life criminals to perpetrate the crime. In some cases the link is very slender, while in others criminals have confessed to using ideas that they read about in murder mysteries.
A book entitled Nena Sahib, which was published in 1859 and penned by Herman O.F. Goedsche under the pen name of Sir-John-Retcliffe, is said to have inspired a man named Conrad. The book’s plot was based on a locked room and Conrad used the plot to mask the killing of his wife and children in 1881. However, his crime was unearthed by the Berlin police and he was hanged for it.
Then there is the case of Michael Norman, who was a blackmailer. During his trial in 1994, Norman claimed that he got ideas to blackmail people from a Dick Francis book entitled Banker.
However, the most interesting is the case where Australian-novelist Arthur W. Upfield, was called upon to give evidence in 1932 in a murder trial. The accused was John-Thomas-Smith, also referred to as Snowy Rowles. During the trial, it was claimed that Smith got the idea of disposing the bodies of his victims without a trace by listening to conversations Upfield and his friends had about a book plot. The book was published in 1931 and was entitled The Sands of Windee.
The debate about murder mysteries influencing and inspiring real-life criminals is ongoing. And, many critics feel that novelists and authors have moral responsibility for their work. Novelists, such as Catherine Aird, ensure that their books do not provide assistance to criminals. In fact, according to Catherine Aird, the convincing poisonous concoction that she describes in her book cannot actually kill anyone in real life. This should give people some peace of mind.