Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson | Jo Linsdell

Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson


Book Review Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

My thoughts about Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning, I get a commission if you purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07TD5CGZQ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow 
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 3, 2020
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 288 pages

The book synopsis for Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing 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.

You might also like: My 2022 Reading Challenges

Discussing Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Quotes from Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Old Devils Bookstore is not in a high-traffic area, but we’re a specialty bookstore—mystery books, used and new—and most of our customers seek us out or simply order directly from our website.

I no longer have the stomach for contemporary mystery novels—sometimes I reread a particular favorite from my childhood—and I find the book blogs indispensable. 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. The few people I’ve told the truth to always want to know why I’ve given up reading crime, and it’s not something I can talk about.

She unzipped her leather bag and removed a single sheet of paper. “Do you remember a list you wrote for this store’s blog, back in 2004? A list called ‘Eight Perfect Murders’?”

I think I must have had some delusions of grandeur that my blog platform might turn me into a public and trusted aficionado of crime fiction.

I waited for comments to appear, allowing myself brief fantasies in which the piece would start an online frenzy, blog readers chiming in to argue about their own favorite murders. NPR would call and ask me to come on-air to discuss the very topic. In the end, the blog piece got two comments.

I knew I should have told Agent Mulvey this at the time, but I didn’t, and until I felt I had to, I didn’t plan on telling her. I was sure she was withholding information from me, so I planned on withholding this information from her. I had to begin to protect myself.

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 read the list of mysteries I’d selected, all ones that took place in wintertime or during a storm. At this point in my blog-writing career I was happy to just list books, and not describe them.

Old Devils is not a famous store, but we are famous to a certain kind of reader.

The latest comment was posted less than twenty-four hours earlier, at three A.M., from a user named Doctor Sheppard, and read, I am halfway through your list. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, done. THE ABC MURDERS, finally finished. DOUBLE INDEMNITY, kaput. DEATHTRAP, saw the film. When I’m finished with the list (it won’t be long now) I’ll get in touch. Or do you already know who I am?

All poems—all works of art, really, seem like cries of help to me, but especially poetry. When they are good, and I do believe there are very few good poems, reading them is like having a long-dead stranger whisper in your ear, trying to be heard.

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.

Being an avid mystery reader as an adolescent does not prepare you for real life. I truly imagined that my adult existence would be far more booklike than it turned out to be. I thought, for example, that there would be several moments in which I got into a cab to follow someone. I thought I’d attend far more readings of someone’s will, and that I’d need to know how to pick a lock, and that any time I went on vacation (especially to old creaky inns or rented lake houses) something mysterious would happen. I thought train rides would inevitably involve a murder, that sinister occurrences would plague wedding weekends, and that old friends would constantly be getting in touch to ask for help, to tell me that their lives were in danger. I even thought quicksand would be an issue.

I’ve always been suspicious of literary writers, with their attempts at immortality. That is why I much prefer thriller writers, and poets. I like the writers who know they are fighting a losing battle.

I’ve always felt that being with people, as opposed to being alone, can make you feel loneliness more acutely.

One of Brian’s writer’s tips he shares is that when you can’t figure something out in the plot of your book, go to bed, and let your subconscious pick at it. I decided to do that, to try and finally get some sleep, and maybe even some answers.


Where to find Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson online:

Book Review Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Are you a book blogger? Check out 101 Blog Post Ideas For Book Bloggers