Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Published by William Morrow on March 3rd, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
“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.”
I will continue to shout this from any and all rooftops, “I love Peter Swanson’s books!” He has cemented himself as my favourite mystery/thriller author. Well, he actually shares the title with Agatha Christie. I mean, nobody can dethrone the Queen of Crime!
In Swanson’s latest mystery, he pays homage to the thriller genre in a tailor-made story: a chilling tale 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, Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack, chosen from among the best of the best: Agatha Christie’s A.B.C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, and more.
No one is more surprised than Mal, the owner of the Old Devils Bookshop, when an FBI agent Gwen Mulvey arrives looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s list.
If you’re a bookworm—especially someone who loves thrillers and mysteries—you’ll love this book.
It’s filled to the brim with literary references. I couldn’t get enough of it. This is a fun romp through these genres from classics to the modern to the obscure. What’s great is that I’ve also added a couple more books to my TBR because of it.
I love a good thriller gimmick and the book did not disappoint from page one when it read, “Eight Perfect Murders: A Memoir.”
Everything comes from Malcolm, the main character. He talks directly to the reader and acknowledges time and time again what we must think of him as the case continues to get more confusing. He’s the perfect conduit for this story—he’s smart, self-aware, and is just enough of a Plain Jane that his disarming charm puts everyone at ease.
As the book continues, you start to wonder how guilty Malcolm is and what he’s keeping from the reader.
It’s a wild and fun ride to follow Malcolm as he tries to put together the pieces of the puzzle and you start to wonder how guilty Malcolm is. Has he been a reliable narrator? What is he leaving out?
So did I figure out the culprit? I did. And pretty early on, too. Astute readers will be able to figure it out easily. Even though Swanson does throw in a few red herrings just to distract you. Because what good mystery author doesn’t?!
But me figuring out the culprit early didn’t have an effect on my rating of this book. I don’t care if I figure out the whodunnit part on page one as long as the thrill of the chase and the small mysteries within the book are entertaining. As long as the characters are interesting and the plot isn’t paper thin, I’m a happy reader.
The one thing I did have an issue with was the lack of dialogue during the first “big reveal.” It felt a bit boring having to read it through Malcolm’s words and not through a dialogue between two characters. But other than that, this book is *chef’s kiss*.
If you’re getting antsy while in self-isolation, this is the perfect book to jolt some excitement and action back into your life. It’s a love letter to the mystery genre—a laugh at its tropes and a celebration of the best of the genre.