“Swanson rips us from one startling plot twist to the next… A true tour de force.” —Lisa Gardner
"Fiendish good fun." —Anthony Horowitz
From the hugely talented author of Before She Knew Him comes a chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.
But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.
To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.
Peter Swanson is the author of five novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Before She Knew Him. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. He lives outside of Boston, where he is at work on his next novel.
Eight Perfect Murders 4.1 out of 5based on
3 days ago
Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself.
The thing is, and maybe I’m biased by all those years I’ve spent in fictional realms built on deceit, I don’t trust narrators any more than I trust the actual people in my life. We never get the whole truth, not from anybody. When we first meet someone, before words are ever spoken, there are already lies and half-truths. The clothes we wear cover the truth of our bodies, but they also present who we want to be to the world. They are fabrications, figuratively and literally.
Fiction is so much better than reality. I know. I’ve been alive a long time.
Peter Swanson is a devilishly clever and diabolically talented evil genius. I feel comforted by the fact I live far, far away from his neck of the woods as he scares me, and more than just a bit. This multi-layered, complicated, absorbing, and smartly written book was laced with unforgettable and truly unlikable characters who were also inexplicably compelling and complex. The storylines were multifaceted, maddeningly paced, and deviously irresistible. I loved it and am eagerly looking forward to his next offering but would caution his neighbors to stay sharp and keep the noise down.
4 days ago
“Books are time travel. True readers know this. But books don’t just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself”
I have a confession to make: I didn’t intend to read this book. After Peter Swanson’s last book Before She Knew Him was the first book I did not finish in 2019, I had almost completely sworn off his writing. But when I was able to get a copy of Eight Perfect Murders in a swap I figured I would give it a chance. What I discovered was a thoroughly unique and quietly dramatic story about a bookseller and mystery lover who gets wrapped up in a series of murders.
I couldn’t put this story down. Swanson pulls from classic mystery stories from the likes of Agatha Christie. It has such a unique and different feel than most contemporary mysteries and suspense novels, it almost evokes a cozy feeling. Swanson pulls from all the elements of classic mysteries, down to the multitude of cozy settings: bookstore, mansion, quiet seaside town. I felt like I was in an elaborate game of Clue where you couldn’t trust anyone.
I loved Mal the main character and wanted so badly to trust him. The story is told completely from his perspective as he unfolds more and more about the murders that are happening all around him, as well as his own narratives. You get to know Mal quite well.
I highly recommend Eight Perfect Murders for fans of classic mysteries and contemporary thrillers.
5 days ago
Never quite got into the narrator. Knew the iller early on.
5 days ago
I want to start this review by saying that I have not read any of the classic mysteries on Malcolm's list. That may be why I didn't enjoy this book as much as many others did. Having said that, it was a well written, twisty mystery/thriller story. Malcolm, who owns a mystery book store, wrote a blog post citing what he felt where Eight Perfect Murders in literature. When it appears that someone is killing people based on the books in this list, the FBI comes calling. One agent actually enlists his help in the investigation.
So, what did I think of this book. I found that it moved quite slowly and there seemed to be a lot of repetition. I liked how the mystery played out and how Mal finally figured out who had been doing the killing, although the reveal did put him at risk. The twists were what kept me listening to this one as I had to find out where Peter Swanson was going with this one. It seems pretty straight forward at the beginning, but oh no, it has a lot of surprises ahead for the reader. There was a lot of dialogue in this story, which might be why it seemed to be so slow. Overall, this one kept me interested to see what was going to happen, but when I was finished, I just thought it was okay. Having said that, this is a mystery lovers book. The eight books Malcolm has listed on his blog are ones that a lot of would be familiar with even if you haven't read them. There are also other books mentioned throughout the book and if you write them all down, you will probably end up adding a lot of books to your TBR. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
14 days ago
Well. This sounded like everything I could have wanted and yet I’m here wondering if two stars is too high of a rating.
Mal was an okay narrator. His inner monologue is sloppy and discombobulated and I’m guessing it was on purpose. Sadly, instead of making me second guess everyone and everything, I found myself bored. There are a good amount of characters and I don’t think any of them added a thing to the story.
Plot wise, it was boring. I expected loads of tension and urgency and got none of it. The entire book read like an advertisement for other books. Yes, I appreciated the info about the books tied to the murders, but it felt really generic. And I don’t even know what to say about the ending.
Overall, it was an amazing idea, but even with wanting to know how it ends, the set up and execution was lost on me.
**Huge thanks to William Morrow for providing the arc free of charge**
15 days ago
This is a really thrilling mystery book with a great hook. Someone appears to be using an internet list of 8 books that depict perfect murders to perform actual murders. Malcolm, the author of that list who owns a Boston mystery book store, is consulted by an FBI agent, and is also the story's narrator. I enjoyed the many mystery books discussed completely, including endings. I was thoroughly entertained by this story and was only able to figure out a small part of the mystery. I highly recommend it!
22 days ago
I've been meaning to read Peter Swanson's books for a while and this is a perfect introduction to his clever plotting and unique writing style. Each of his books are stand alone stories so you can start with any book.
Malcolm Kershaw owns a bookshop called Old Devils which specialises in crime and mystery novels. He loves classic crime and he once listed his eight favourite murders on the bookshop's website, ones he thought were impossible to solve. It seems there is a link between some recent deaths and the perfect murders listed by Malcolm.
This is a cleverly plotted whodunnit style crime novel. It's written in first person which I really like, it gets you inside the head of the character, and I found the whole book to be gripping, fast moving and very entertaining.
22 days ago
Thank you to Netgalley, the publishing house and the author for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of this book in return for review based upon my honest opinion.
Who doesn’t like a good list, who doesn’t like a good murder mystery, a list of books about perfect murders? I can’t resist. So, when I saw this book I knew that I had to read it. Was a very clever storyline, kept me guessing the whole time; and literally on the edge of my seat trying to figure out the identity of the murderer or murderers.
When an FBI agent shows up at Malcolm Kershaw’s bookstore one stormy winters eve, he is surprised when the agent tells him that she thinks someone is killing people based on a blog that Malcolm wrote many years ago. As agent Mulvey tells him about the murders, he starts to agree with her that maybe they are based on this list of books that he wrote a list of books of perfect murders. We follow Malcolm as he tries to put the pieces together, he leads a very bland life since the death of his wife years before. He works in the bookstore, a bookstore that has the most precious in-house cat Nero, he goes home to his apartment and he reads books, but he no longer reads murder mysteries he now reads poetry, I kept wondering why, the switch to poetry?
This book contained many surprises, lots of twists and turns, and lots of literary talk. One of the main settings, the bookstore, Old Devils, (what a clever name), was delightful I could picture it; the snow falling softly outside, the warm light glowing inside; lots of books piled up,
I enjoyed this book immensely. I loved the storyline, I loved the list of books, and now I have added the ones I have not read to my TBR pile. Great book for a stormy windy night, so glad I had the chance to read this book I really liked it.
25 days ago
“Eight Perfect Murders” by Peter Swanson is destined to become a classic crime fiction book. Its premise? If a person wanted to commit the perfect murder what better guide than murders in classic literature?
In a first person narrative, Malcolm Kershaw introduces himself as a bookseller, good at it, and that is enough. He talks directly to readers in astonishing and intriguing ways, surmising that readers might guess that he knows more about the crimes than he is disclosing. He also talks to himself, wondering if he has made a mistake.
Swanson creates a tale right out of Agatha Christie’s classic playbook. A series of unsolved murders have occurred that follow the plots of classic books, books from Kershaw’s blog titled “Eight Perfect Murders.” Someone is using Kershaw’s list as a guide. Readers become part the narrative with page after page of clues, names from great mystery books, and references to countless mystery writers. Evidence is everywhere, and hints are revealed quietly, mysteriously, and casually. Signs point directly to the plots of the mystery books, and yet every revelation is a surprise. In a classic final scenario, just when readers think it is all over, it is not.
“Eight Perfect Murders” is joy for readers. Just reading the books mentioned in the narrative could provide months of perfect mystery reading. (Of course, after finishing this book.) I enjoyed Swanson’s previous books, but “Eight Perfect Murders” stands far above the rest. He has demonstrated that his books are worthy of a place next to the great classics he referenced. I purchased my signed copy of “Eight Perfect Murders” at my local bookstore, and I am not letting anyone borrow it.
26 days ago
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the ARC.
This book was very middle of the road for me. I definitely didn’t guess the identity of the villain, but I also wasn’t that curious. The story plodded along, and I dutifully followed, but I was borderline bored. I think if you are a mystery book aficionado, you would probably find greater nuance in the plot. It was a quick read, and that kept me reading, but I just wasn’t as entertained as I’d hoped.
2.5 stars rounded up to 3.0.
28 days ago
If you love mysteries and have read much of the genre, I think you will love this book. The featured narrator is a Boston bookstore owner, Malcom Kershaw. I did love the setting as I attended college in Boston, and I think Peter Swanson captured the atmosphere of it well. The book title refers to a blog post that Malcom wrote in his early days at the bookstore about eight perfect murders. I’ve only read one of those 8 books (ABC Murders), but Swanson definitely gives away plot details for each of the books, so if you don’t want to spoil the reads of those 8 titles, I’d steer clear of this one until you’ve had a chance to read the source books first.
Malcolm is visited by an FBI agent who finds similarities between a string of murders and the murders detailed in his list of eight perfect murders. There are twists and surprises in this book and I will just add that Malcolm is not the most reliable of narrators. This one is a slow burn, but I did enjoy it. I might have loved it if I had read all 8 of the books. As Malcolm and the agent dig into the cases, the tension builds as to who the murderer is and where he will strike next.
28 days ago
The "Perfect" Thriller!
It starts out almost like a cozy mystery with an unassuming, likable bookseller being drawn into a murder case. The murderer seems to be recreating “perfect” murders from classic mysteries. The FBI agent investigating the case goes to our main character Malcolm as an expert on classic literary murders because he owns and works in a bookstore specializing in mystery and crime novels. In the past he even wrote a blog post for the bookstore titled “Eight Perfect Murders” which the murder seems to be following. The FBI going to Malcolm for help seemed a bit tenuous and unlikely but I was willing to go with it as it made for a great setup. Turns out the FBI has good reason to go to Malcolm and as they investigate further it becomes clear that some of the victims had a connection to Malcolm. This is where things get really juicy!
Malcolm is entirely pleasant if a bit introverted. He loves his cat Nero who lives in the bookstore and has a nice, quiet life. It’s all a bit quaint and familiar but hold on to your hats because something is coming that upends everything. The story takes a sharp turn that had my mouth hanging open in shock. I won’t give even a hint about what happened but holy crow it blew my mind!
For me this truly was the “perfect” thriller. The literary premise leading to an absolutely shocking twist was just so darn good. I was lulled by the benign, almost cozy beginning then the rug was pulled out from under my assumptions pretty early on and the story only got better from there. I could not have predicted where this story was going to go. From beginning to end, “Rules for “Perfect Murders” was a fantastic and brilliant book and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Thank you to Faber & Faber for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.