Book review by Dinh.
This is my first book by author Peter Swanson.
I feel very late to the Peter Swanson fan party. I love to discover new authors to love and having read Eight Perfect Murders I can honestly say I will be checking out more of Swanson’s work. Swanson’s is known for The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear so I will add those to my to read list!
I really enjoyed this cleverly crafted murder mystery.
Here’s what I liked:
Malcolm Kershaw, a mystery aficionado and owner to the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, published a list of Eight Perfect Murders on his website years before. Now, FBI agent Gwen Mulvey is questioning him about his blog-post and the link between his list and some unsolved murders. Is he the murderer?
I enjoyed this story line that pays homage to classic mysteries. These included The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne, Malice of Forethought by Anthony Burkley Cox, The A. B. C. Murders by Agatha Christie, Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, and The Secret History by Donna Tartt, to name a few.
I have not read any of them, but it was nice to see classic mysteries included. The inclusion of these books made the story line interesting but there were many spoilers which will put you off if you haven’t read them.
I enjoyed Swanson’s writing style. Eight Perfect Murders was a compelling read. The narrative flowed and I was pulled in right from the beginning. The pace of the book was steady and I didn’t find it slow. The pace did build up toward the end when the twists and turns ramped up and the tone of the book became urgent as we close in on the killer.
The story is told in Mal’s viewpoint. I liked that it was a one person viewpoint even though I know that Mal is an unreliable narrator. From the beginning of the book we know he lies. A bookseller that lies about books he has read is a big red flag…
“I suppose I could be honest, tell people that I’ve lost interest in mystery novels, that I primarily read history these days, poetry before I go to bed, but I prefer to lie.”
I also enjoyed the way Mal’s story and his past is slowly revealed. There were plenty of twists and turns, which kept me guessing, and it wasn’t until about three quarters of the book that it was obvious who the killer was.
There are clues right at the beginning and if you pay attention, you’ll probably guess the killer sooner than later.
I did feel that Swanson crafted some interesting characters.
Mal the protagonist was a complex a character, and I did feel that his character was developed enough to make the story believable.
Mal was a likable character at the beginning. He was a bookseller and loved to read. However, as his truths came out and as the book progressed, I liked him less. We can see why he does what he does.
Also, the cat Nero won me over!
I felt the ending was a bit rushed.
I did not like that it was an open ending. The lose threads were tied up and we find out who the killer is but it was not closed in that the murderer was caught and sent to jail. Rather it was implied that should such and such arise, then such and such would happen.
My Final Thoughts
I love the premise of Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson.
The book was a fun and interesting read paying homage to classic mystery books.
I found the book compelling and enjoyed how it paid tribute to crime fiction. I didn’t particularly enjoy the ending but it was an enjoyable read.
Belong to a book club? Check out Eight Perfect Murders book club discussion questions!