Women don’t get as much play as men when it comes to being methodical, cold-blooded killers, but rest assured, there are a few of them out there who rival Hannibal Lector and Dexter. Here are a few suggestions if you’re looking to read about women with a truly dark side.
Femme Fatale: Annie Wilkes
A true classic. Annie is something of an Angel of Mercy. She sees herself as a caregiver, but that is just some classic deflection to hide the monster inside. She loves taking care of her favorite author, Paul Sheldon, who fell into her lap after being injured, but when she learns that he’s killed off Misery, her favorite character… Well, let’s just say Annie shows her true colors.
She’s the kind of woman it’s hard to walk away from, especially when she’s broken your ankles.
Femme Fatale: Gretchen Lowell
Gretchen is unapologetic for her crimes, and Chelsea Cain writes her as a compelling character. Gretchen isn’t always beautiful or alluring, but she is always—always—looking for a weakness to exploit, or a nice soft place to stick a knife.
She torments Archie Sheridan to the brink of madness, to the point where he believes a part of her loves him, and that a part of him loves her.
Femme Fatale: Amma
The ultimate ‘mean girl.’ If you watched the HBO production of the book, you were no doubt chilled by the final scene. If you want to be really freaked out, read the book. Gillian Flynn’s prose has a way of seeping into your mind and staining it. You’ll never look at a doll house the same way again.
Femme Fatale: Tori Scott
Shameless plug! Also, a spoiler, but if you want to see a bunch of adults get taken on a very twisted, very cruel ride by a teenage girl, you might want to check out the second book in my Audrey Harte series.
The only thing I love better than a murderous woman is a murderous teenage girl who is much, much smarter than the boy who gets all the credit.
Femme Fatale: Mother
I know what you’re thinking—the killer in Psycho was Norman Bates. While that’s true at the bare bones of it—we’ve all seen the scene of Norman dressed in a wig and nightgown—the real truth of the novel is that Mother Bates was so twisted and black inside that she not only polluted her son, but he took on the mantle of her to commit his crimes.
There you have it! Five of my favorite female fictional femme fatales! I think we’re sorely lacking in dangerous women in fiction. How about you? Of course, real life is full of ladies who poisoned, stabbed, and shot their way into the history books—and they’re just waiting to inspire some curious writer to put them on paper.
Kate Kessler is the author of a number of thrillers, including her most recent novel Dead Ringer. Her previous works include the popular Audrey Harte novels, beginning with It Takes One. A former delinquent, Kate now prefers to write about trouble rather than cause it, and spends her days writing about why people do the things they do.