Eight Perfect Murders

Eight Perfect Murders

A Novel

Book - 2020
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A Kirkus Best Fiction Book of the year

"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 Deathtrap, A. A. Milne's The 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 The 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.

Publisher: New York, New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2020.
ISBN: 9780062996084
Characteristics: 270 pages ;,23 cm

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t
TayRaymond
Jan 31, 2021

[finished in 2020] interesting and twisting story. Unsatisfying endings

d
dontbugmeimreading
Dec 22, 2020

I enjoyed this one and it kept my interest right to the end. What I especially liked was how he "name-dropped" so many other mystery novels in it - not just the eight referred to in the title. I was mentally ticking them off: read it, read it, need to read it.

s
SC_bookworm_0
Dec 03, 2020

~3 stars~
Spoiler Alert!

I really liked this book, and the main reason I liked it is because I kept having to second-guess the main character. It's a great feeling, you know, when there isn't a single person in the story you can trust. I also liked that while the main character was responsible for deaths, he wasn't a cold-blooded killer, and everything that happened wasn't entirely his fault. It's one thing to make a main character secretly an unhinged serial killer, and another for the character to be totally in their right mind and have an ulterior motive. It made Malcom positively frightening, knowing that behind his quiet and "innocent" demeanor, there was a killer. And I loved it.

And now I want to talk about something slightly controversial for myself: the involvement of other old, classic crime novels in this book.

Here's why I liked it: The "eight perfect murders" were weaved expertly through the story, and while they were the base of the entire plot, there wasn't too much taken from the other stories. Everything was explained thoroughly and I didn't have to read the other books to know what was going on in this book.

But. Spoilers!! I suddenly know all about these classic mystery novels that I would have liked to read. I know all the endings, and how the crime was pulled off, and whatnot. I especially would have liked to read Strangers on a Train, but now, because of this book, I literally know how the crime was done.

Additionally, many of the scenes were just long discussions or Mal's inner monologue, making this book similar in style to Agatha Christie's novels. And these scenes are important, of course, but this book was severely lacking "in the moment" or "action" scenes. Even at the most climactic moment of the story, Mal is casually chatting with the killer, and I didn't really feel the fear or thrill, which I wanted from a novel like this one.

p
pozrob
Nov 13, 2020

Despite the fact that Swanson pumps out books with frequent regularity, I wouldn’t exactly call them cookie cutter crime novels. This one, like some of his previous works is set in and around Boston with a good mix of actual and fictional locales. Some writers miss the mark on local trivial details. The main character owns a Beacon Hill bookstore and incorporates plots from different crime novels into the story. A must read for bibliophiles. It will keep your attention and keep you guessing right up to the end.

a
avidFVreader
Oct 29, 2020

The story started out OK, grabbed my interest, then sluggishly made it to the end.
Might try another book by this author, but not too soon.

b
BARosen1112
Oct 06, 2020

Used bookstore proprietor/half-owner Malcolm wrote a blog entry on his bookstore's web page some years back listing eight "perfect" fictional murders. Someone is using Malcolm's long-forgotten list as a blueprint for his own murders, and Malcolm has been enlisted by an attractive young female (is there any other kind?) FBI agent with a personal stake in the outcome to help her unravel the mystery of which of Malcolm's blog readers is the murderer. Not a bad basis for an interesting mystery, but Peter Swanson's novel falls inexplicably flat. The lead character/narrator isn't that interesting, and the most interesting character - the FBI agent - disappears in the second half. The ending - particularly whodunit - is a surprise, but that's more because it's so out of left field than careful plotting. Not a fan.

d
Dee_BPL
Sep 29, 2020

Rated 3 stars because while the novel has a great concept - I couldn't have cared less about any of the characters in the novel. None were particularly likeable so I wasn't very invested in the story unfortunately!

2
25Artist
Aug 15, 2020

AT KCPL

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Aug 11, 2020

*This book contains struggles with alcohol and drug addiction* I cannot even begin to express how disappointed I was after finishing this book. Starting it, I had so much hope and within the first 3 chapters, I was crushed. The plot as a whole was really interesting, and I liked how the author incorporated eight famous “perfect murder” stories; however, I don’t think they were put together in a way that made enough sense. I found there to be a few not so minor loopholes that I just couldn’t look past. In my opinion, the later chapters had things that were rushed and thrown together, for the sole purpose of tying up a loose plotline. In the end, I liked the idea and the principle of the book more than the actual book. 2.5/5
@LucindatheGreen of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

b
beckymom
Jul 31, 2020

A throwback to a classic Agatha Christie format. There are enough twists to keep you reading, and it's extra appealing to fans of classic, early mysteries.

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