True Detective: A Reading List

Are you a fan of HBO’s bleak and unsettling brilliance that is True Detective? The existential drama, out on DVD and Blu-ray on 9 June, follows detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) as they try to solve a case of brutal, bizarre and ritualistic murders in eerie Southern Louisiana. Read the dark, atmospheric and Southern gothic books that influenced it…
Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto

True Detective’s creator and sole writer Nic Pizzolatto’s novel ‘Galveston’ is a gleaming dark thriller, rich with Southern atmosphere. A violent tale that follows Roy Cady (who has shadows of McConaughey’s Rust Cohle) who flees to New Orleans from gangsters with prostitutes whom he rescues from some hoods in the wake of a bloodbath.

The King in Yellow by Robert W Chambers
The deeper into their murder investigation Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson) get, the more bizarre their clues became. Throughout the series witnesses and suspects reference Robert W. Chambers’ 1985 novel ‘The King In Yellow’ and people kept saying the person is “in Carcosa,” which brings Ambrose Bierce’s influential 1891 short story “An Inhabitation of Carcosa” into the mix.
The Complete Short Stories by Ambrose Bierce
Robert W. Chambers borrowed elements from the great American story writer, fabulist and satirist Ambrose Bierce. He specifically borrowed the names Carcosa and Hastur and it is really only the story of “An Inhabitation of Carcosa” that ties into Chambers’ mythology, but Bierce’s fiction is really worth a read.
The Temptation to Exist by E. M. Cioran

If you want to explore into one of the finest existential philosopher’s of all time, look no further than E.M. Cioran’s The Temptation to Exist. Many of his philosophies are echoed by Ligotti – although Ligotti is far more disturbing than Cioran, who is actually very funny.  In exploring these philosophies, nobody has expressed the idea of humanity as aberration more powerfully than Cioran. His aphorisms could have come straight from the melancholy Cohle’s mouth.

Top 10 By Alan Moore

Graphic novelist Alan Moore has inspired many writers and Nic Pizzolatto said “the first time I got excited about writing was reading comic books by Alan Moore as a kid.” Moore’s lesser-known Top 10 is a tale of police in the supernatural city of Nepolis where everyone is blessed with powers and takes a unique and powerful police force to protect and serve, which could have come straight out of True Detective.


H. P. Lovecraft: Tales by H. P. Lovecraft

Horror influences such as Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft abound in True Detective and if you are unfamiliar with these writers they were the pioneers in the genres of cosmic horror and weird fiction. Lovecraft in particular writes about tales of alien gods, bizarre cults, insanity, despair and twisted horror stories. Lovecraft is a must read if you are into this genre.



Where the Summer Ends: by Karl Edward Wagner

But for more modern spine-tingling tales, Nic Pizzolatto recommends Karl Edward Wagner’s horror stories. His 2012 ‘Where the Summer Ends’ depicts psychological portrayals of wanderings with ingenious use of Southern eerie landscapes which are reminiscent of True Detective, even the cover art looks like the cult inspired driftwood that Cohle and Hart find throughout the series.

TRUE DETECTIVE is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 9 June 2014 courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment.

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.