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Malcolm Kershaw #1

Eight Perfect Murders

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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.

270 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

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About the author

Peter Swanson

15 books8,578 followers
Peter Swanson is the author of six 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 thriller, Eight Perfect Murders. 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.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,819 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
March 21, 2020
Books are time travel. True readers all know this.

What an adventure this book was! There's no denying that Eight Perfect Murders was a good deal more meta than my usual thriller picks, but I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the mystery/thriller/crime genre-- from the classics to the modern to the obscure.

This book scratched an itch I didn't even know I had, so to speak. See, I love love lists of books. When Goodreads or Buzzfeed or whatever posts a list of "50 Must-Read ____ Books" or "10 Most Anticipated Books of ____", then you can bet I'm clicking. I am such a sucker for those lists. I just didn't know I wanted to read a mystery about one until now!

There's a lot I can't say about Eight Perfect Murders, but I'll try to give you some idea what it's like. I've only read one other Swanson book so far (Before She Knew Him) and this one was very different.

The protagonist, Malcolm Kershaw, is the co-owner of the Old Devils Bookstore, a place specializing in mysteries. One day, an FBI agent enters the store and begins to question him about several murders, which may or may not be related. What has brought Malcolm to her attention is a blog post he wrote when he was first hired at Old Devils: "Eight Perfect Murders." It's a list of eight mystery/thriller novels that contain, in Malcolm's opinion, the most "perfect", unsolvable, uncatchably brilliant murders. Thing is, some of the recent murders seem oddly similar to several of the "perfect" murders in the novels listed.

Malcolm gets dragged into the investigation, part aid and part suspect, and it's not a spoiler to say we learn very quickly he has a lot of secrets of his own. And, wow, I just really loved the exploration of all these novels. Not just the eight at the centre of the story, but many great crime novels. Some I knew well; some I'd never heard of. Be warned: this book does spoil the plot of all eight novels mentioned in the blurb - The A.B.C. Murders, Strangers on a Train, The Red House Mystery, Malice Aforethought, Double Indemnity, The Drowner, The Secret History and Deathtrap - so you may want to read them first if they're still on your TBR.

To me, this book was a celebration of the mystery genre. A laugh at its conventions; a love letter to its best and underappreciated works. Following Malcolm as he tries to piece together the puzzle and come to terms with just how guilty he himself is... well, it's quite a ride.

I did figure out the "culprit", though, and I think a lot of mystery readers will. There are too few possibilities to make it truly challenging. But I honestly did not care. The fun is in the getting there, the thrill of the chase, and the uncertainty of the many small mysteries the book presents along the way. I'm just that kind of thriller reader, honestly. I do not care if you can pull out the shockiest shocker of a twist if I don’t enjoy the getting there. Give me a good ride and a protagonist who intrigues me over "twists" any day.

Also, I have about fifty new recommendations from this book. That's only a slight exaggeration.

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Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
505 reviews623 followers
March 9, 2020
Wow! What do I even say about a book that has rendered me speechless? This book is a thriller lovers dream come true. First of all, Peter Swanson won me over with The Kind Worth Killing and has never let me down since. I find him and Liz Nugent to be the masters of the dark, twisted thrillers. I often wonder how they come up with this stuff! Can you imagine their computer search history? The stuff that murders are made of!!!

Sooo with that being said, listen to this premise...absolute genius...Malcolm Kershaw owns a specialty bookstore- he carries mystery, thriller books that may be hard to come by. He is an expert in classic mystery books and he knows them in and out. People travel from all over the country to visit his little store. When Malcolm publishes an interesting blog post on the bookstore's site about how to commit the perfect murder, he uses 8 different books with plots that in his opinion would be the perfect crime. Not much came of that at the time but years later someone is murdering people and following this list to the tee. Now the FBI is interested...very interested in what Malcolm has to say.

OMG this was a thrill ride from the word go. I devoured and I mean devoured this book in one single day. My internal voice kept saying, this book is so good you should slow down and savor it. Yet I couldn't flip these pages fast enough as I had to know what happened. This book had so much appeal because not only was it was a very unique plot, it also had a ring of truth to much of it. My google fingers were going at warp speed as I researched if any of this has really happened. The answer is YES. This was like a history lesson for me of authors gone bad...so fascinating. I also discovered many books that were on the "list" that I want to read!

Add in a fantastic bookstore cat named Nero that has his own Instagram page and what more can you ask for?!! I love a gorgeous cat with a history...my oh my if this cat could talk.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,073 reviews38.2k followers
August 29, 2021
I need a Gibberish translator right now! Because this is only language I may fluently speak after reading this book. Fcjeijfiojopi50ov! See! I lost control my thoughts again! I cannot form a proper sentence!

There is no slightest chance for me to dislike this book! 8 perfect murders based on selected amazing thrillers starting from Christie’s epic “A.B.C. Murders” (this time the killer concentrated on bird names more than alphabetical order) to thrilling Ira Levin play “Deathtrap” (after watching the movie version, everyone had hard times to consider Christopher Reeves their superhero!), Highsmith’s “Strangers on a train” (Mr. Swanson gives so great details about differences between the Hitchcock movie and the original story which is darker and more spooky), Donna Tartt’s “ A Secret History”.
And let’s not forget James M. Cain’s “Double Indemnity” (if you haven’t watch its movie, do it immediately to see Fred MacMurray’s brilliant performance!), A.A Milne’s “Red House Mystery”, John D. Macdonald’s “Drowner” and Anthony Berkeley Cox’ s “Malice Afterthought” (I have to make confession that I didn’t read the last three of them. But I already add to my MOUNT TBR that I rent hourly for bungee jumping activities!)

Old Devil’s Bookshop’s owner Malcolm Kershaw chose those 8 books and wrote a blog of them as “8 perfect murders help you get away with them” ( It is not the title but you got his motivation to write this article!)

Now a FBI agent appears at his bookstore, asking for his help because there might be killer out there obsessed with his article and commits murders at the same ways written on those books.

And as we continue to read about the facts Malcolm also the narrator of the story presents us, we realize he keeps secrets to himself and slowly when we get inside of his mind and learn more about his traumatized love story with his ex-wife who died in the car accident, we pity on him but also start to get suspicious about him. Why a killer is obsessed with his article? Could Malcolm get involved with one of the murders? Did FBI agent tell him the truth? Could the killer also be a vigilante who brings the justice by punishing very notorious people because as far as we realize the victims are not angels, they have their own crimes and dirty secrets!

This book is mesmerizing puzzle, combining perfect thrillers’ plots and subtexts at the most proper places intercepted with Malcolm’s fast pacing, brain cell destroyer, heart-throbbing story. He confuses the hell of us by giving small pieces about the truth. We get lost in his head and we are misled by him so many times and sucker punched by unexpected twists we could never see coming.


I’m not gonna talk more about the story because it’s so hard to write more about without giving spoilers and I’m not the most trustworthy person who likes to write the murderers’ identities in the middle of each Christie books and send them to my loved ones (You may guess I’m not the most lovable person!)

Overall: This is dark, intense, puzzling, dazzling, exciting, nail biter, hair splitter, heart throbbing, nightmarish, brilliant book and it already became one of my favorite books of the author. Even some revelations still have some small plot holes, I only cut half star and I’m giving my 4.5 rounded up to 5 doubtful, manipulative, mind-bending stars!

I didn’t get rejected for this book but I couldn’t let it root at the NetGalley’s pending purgatory so this time I’m thanking myself and my husband’s credit card to buy this book and devour it at one sit! Highly recommending, one of the best thrillers of the year! Of course I should have had this!

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Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
771 reviews12.1k followers
March 9, 2020
CLEVER!!

“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.”

A blog post written on eight mystery novels that detail the perfect murders becomes the blueprint for a serial killer in Eight Perfect Murders. This is a compelling, original, and intriguing read about the mystery genre.


When Mal, an independent bookstore owner, is contacted by the FBI regarding a blog post he wrote years ago, he is shocked to discover that someone is using his literary recommendations as a guide to commit murder. Mal realizes he has a connection to one of the victims and he begins to wonder if the murderer is going to make him his next target.

This is a book for those who love mysteries and appreciate the nuances of the genre . Mal discusses what makes mysteries so riveting to read. He details some classics, and in discussing the perfect murder plots, reminds readers of why some mysteries are so powerful.

Mal is the single narrator and he controls every word of this story. I got caught up in his tale and was eagerly flipping the pages to see where he was going to take me. He weaves in a wealth of knowledge about the mystery genre and throws in some red herrings, while at the same time slowly revealing his secrets.

When the reveal occurred, I was a little underwhelmed, but then I soon realized I got caught up in the wrong element of this book--yes, the mystery of who is committing the murders is intriguing, but what is even more intriguing is the narrator himself. This isn’t about the who or the why. It is about the power of the narrator.

I had fun trying to unravel Mal’s secrets and uncover the web of the eight perfect murders. I highly recommend for those who love the mystery genre.

I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,038 reviews2,574 followers
March 2, 2022
Malcolm, owner of an old school bookstore, has a story to tell. The FBI wants to interview him because of some murders and their possible connection to a blog post he made, listing the eight perfect murders in literature. Even if I hadn't read all the books, I'd at least seen the old movies that were made from the books so the plot of this story was interesting to me.

Malcolm realizes that the FBI suspects him of the murders that have occurred since he seems to have a blueprint in his blog, listing the murders and more that may happen, with his innocent list posted years ago. So Malcolm takes it upon himself to figure out who is committing the murders, why they are committing them, and why they may be trying to frame him for them. Malcolm has a sad history, with his wife dying in a car accident and with something happening to him in the past that has caused him to never read murder mysteries again. He seems so low energy, passively observing life, and rarely eating more than a few bites of food...is more bothering Malcolm than the death of his wife and this new situation of a murderer copying a list he made?

I enjoyed this story although I did get tired of the repeated details of each book. And if you have never read the books and don't want to be spoiled, this is not the book for you. Malcolm is going to totally spoil each book, over and over again. Still, I wanted to find out just what was going on with Malcolm because he seemed to be an unreliable narrator who had a lot he wanted to tell.

Oh, there is a book store cat that I loved. Nero, a yellow tabby who was the reason that a lot of people visited the store regularly. We all need a Nero in our lives.

Published March 3, 2020

Thank you to William Morrow/HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this ARC.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
378 reviews1,597 followers
May 8, 2020
Malcolm owned a bookstore. He decided to do a blog on his website called Eight Perfect Murders. In his blog he decided to make a list of the genres most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack. Malcolm finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a clever killer has started using his list of these perfect murders.

This book was more of a slow burning mystery to me, instead of a thriller. I am not a big Agatha Christie fan, so that is why I didn't love this one. I am more of a thriller fan. There were some parts
that I did enjoy, especially the ending.

I have not read any of the books on Malcolm's list. There were a couple that I would like to read but I feel that I already know what the books are about because there are so many spoilers.

This book seemed to repeat itself over and over again. I was very disappointed. I didn't feel like the characters were well developed and there were a lot of characters. This book lost the thrill for me. It didn't have enough suspense for me. I put this book down many times. I did love the ending. I loved his books, The Kind Worth Killing and his book Before She Knew Him. I love this author and still can't wait to read his next book. I am in the minority of this book. Lots of others loved it.

Several of us read this book in The Traveling Sister Group.

I want to thank Edelweiss, the publisher and the author for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
January 28, 2021
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.
Back in 2004, when he first started working at Old Devils, the mysteries-oriented bookstore that he now runs, Malcolm Kershaw was asked to write a blog post. Eight Perfect Murders was his list of the best, fool-proof murders committed in mystery fiction. He posted and promptly forgot about it. Now, many years later, a killer seems to be using his list as the basis for a series of murders. Is Malcolm a potential target? Or is Malcolm otherwise involved? Special Agent Gwen Mulvey, thirties, blonde, has taken an interest. Seems not only is Malcolm’s list in use by a fan of the genre, someone Malcolm knows is one of the victims.

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Peter Swanson - image from the site Blood Type

The blog piece that Malcolm wrote includes:
The Red House Mystery – A.A. (Alan Alexander) Milne – 1922
Malice AforeThought – Anthony Berkeley Cox – 1931
The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie – 1934
Double Indemnity – James M. Cain – 1943
Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith - 1950
The Drowner – John D.MacDonald – 1963
Deathtrap – Ira Levin - 1978
The Secret History – Donna Tartt – 1992
For fans of mysteries this is both a fun puzzle and a docent-led tour of some of the best suspense writing of all time. Be forewarned, if you have not read these already, or seen the films made of some, the book will spoil them for you. Caveat lector. The list of eight is only the beginning. More than any other book I can remember, Eight Perfect Murders offers a cornucopia of fun genre references with a stop or two outside the field as well. It gives you a chance to reacquaint with some of the true whodunit classics, each with unique ways of doing someone in, ways the killer is aping. Swanson has some fun with the list, questioning whether the murders were all that foolproof and whether this or that other book should have been included instead. It is a delightful element, and you can imagine the discussions that went on in selecting this or that and excluding some others. It will certainly provide considerable fodder for your already mountainous TBR lists.

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We follow Kershaw as he tries to figure out who may be up to no good, with, and without Agent Mulvey, and tries to keep one step ahead of any official investigations. There is a bit of body heat developing between Krenshaw and Mulvey, but is that a natural result of boy meets hot special agent, or is the attraction a fatal sort, a manipulation, and if so, on whose part? There does seem to be something a bit off about the hot detective.

I have not read all of Swanson’s books, but caught his first two, and there are common elements. Secrets abound. Not surprising for the genre, but Swanson’s leading men tend to hold significant intel back from the reader, to be revealed over the course of the book. There are also femmes fatale, dramatic women who hold the leading man in thrall, resulting in dark consequences. In this case, it is Kershaw’s wife, Claire, and I will say no more about that. One thing that is different this time is that we have a single narrator. Swanson usually likes multiple perspectives. Krenshaw’s bookstore is in Boston, being a familiar siting of Swanson stories. Beacon Hill being revisited is a familiar locale for readers of his oeuvre. Asked in a 2017 interview about this element in his work, Swanson said:
It’s hugely important. I think Boston is a good location for a thriller, but I write mainly about Boston because that’s where I live. In Her Every Fear, [published in 2017] I wanted to write something that felt like a gothic thriller, and to me, a large apartment building in Beacon Hill just felt right. That section of Boston feels a little bit trapped in time. It has cobblestones, and narrow streets, and several of the buildings still have stable doors.
He was going for something along those lines this time too, I expect, an old-timey specialty bookstore with familiar but infrequent customers, and scads of references to old books. This would have felt out of place in a Barnes & Noble on a large public square.

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Early on, Krenshaw is reminded of another young fictional special agent.
It was impossible for me not to think of Clarice Starling,…from Silence of the Lambs. It was where my mind almost always went, to books and movies. It had been that way since I first began to read, And Mulvey, like her fictional counterpart, seemed too tame for the job. It was hard to imagine her whipping a gun from a holster, or aggressively questioning a suspect. She did question a suspect, though. She questioned you.
Mulvey keeps Kershaw involved, even if his motives might be less along the lines of providing a public service than they are keeping informed of her progress in order to better protect himself. But what is he protecting? Thus, the quote that opens this review. Is Mulvey a good actor, intent on seeing justice served, or is he Dr. Lecter, serving up bits of information to someone he likes and respects, in service of some other plan?

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As for gripes
I heard the ticking sound that meant Nero was coming toward us along the hardwood floor. Agent Mulvey, who heard it as well, turned and looked at the store cat.
Hearing cat claws clicking on the floor is not a thing. My wife and I care for many cats, and have had many more over the years, none lacking claws, and never have we ever heard the click-clack that is described here. It is possible, I suppose, that there are cats that might provide such a sonic announcement of their arrival, but natural selection has seen to it, as Carl Sandburg can attest, that little cat feet are silent. A jarring item like this takes one out of the story, and I bet there are many readers in the target demo for this book, graced with feline presence, who might hack up a hairball on reading about such a cacophonous cat. A small, nerve-jarring bit. Swanson tosses in an impending storm, fills the streets with snow, but other than showing us a bit of Boston in winter, it did not seem that the weather motif added much, really, to the feel of the tale.

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In addition, there will be unrelated eye-rolling. You may hear yourself saying things like “fuh realz?” or “No, no way,” or “You’re kidding me, right?” as a character does this, that, or something else, that seems just dramatically dumb. On the other hand, if you are willing to treat your eye-ball chafing with over the counter products, and use ear plugs to drown out the sound of your own complaining voice, this remains a pretty fun, engaging read. Krenshaw seems likable, and his love of books will make him sympathetic to, you know, readers. Mulvey is intriguing, as we wonder if she is a straight arrow, or up to something. Krenshaw’s wife is a damaged, over-the-top siren, someone I found a bit tough to relate to, which is hardly a crime. But then we are not looking for high lit in a mystery novel. The rest of the supporting cast were drawn lightly, but served their purposes well. Swanson’s clear love of and appreciation for the genre, as expressed in the multitude of references, both in written and cinematic form, is infectious. (a treatable infection, nothing deadly, I promise). Having a shop cat named Nero doesn’t hurt.

While it may not be Swanson’s best work, there is no mystery about it. Eight Perfect Murders is a perfectly fun, engaging page-turner of a read, particularly for devotees of crime fiction.
“I felt closer to Claire than I’ve ever felt to anyone before or since,” I said.” But sometimes I didn’t know her.”
Tess was nodding. “I feel the same way about Brian, close, I mean, then every once in a while, he’ll say something, or else I’ll read something he wrote, and I wonder if I know anything about him at all.

Review posted – March 6, 2020

Publication dates
-----March 3, 2020 - Hardcover
-----January 26, 2021 - Trade paperback

=============================EXTRA STUFF

The book was released as Rules for Perfect Murders in the UK on May 3, 2020

Links to the author’s Tumblr, Twitter and FB pages

Swanson’s web site has a cornucopia of samples of his Hitchcock poems, other poetry, short fiction and non-fiction, and is well worth checking out. Armchair Audience is Swanson’s site for writing on “Books read. Movies seen. TV Watched” He makes a slight nod to himself by referencing in the book a site called The Armchair Spoiler

Book references - the Eight perfect Murders…Plus
-----The Red House Mystery by A.A. (Alan Alexander) Milne (a writer of very substantial brain on Gutenberg
-----Malice Aforethought by Anthony Berkeley Cox - Part 1 of 8 - audiobook
-----The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie - free text on Internet Archive
-----The ABC Murders - free audio on Internet Archive
-----Double Indemnity by James M. Cain - novel - wiki
-----Double Indemnity - film - wiki
-----Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith – novel - wiki
-----The Drowner - John D. Macdonald. novel - wiki
----- The Secret History by Donna Tartt – novel- wiki

==========Others, but not all – wiki links
-----Shake Hands Forever by Ruth Rendell
----- Louise Penny novels
-----We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
-----Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
-----Too Many Crooks by Rex Stout
-----The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – (really J.K. Rowling)
-----James Crumley - Elaine Johnson’s (a character in 8PM) favorite author

Poems
-----Winter Nightfall by Sir John Collings Squire
-----Black Rook in Rainy Weather by Sylvia Plath
-----An Exequy by Peter Porter (About a dead wife)

My reviews of other books by the author
-----2015 - The Kind Worth Killing
-----2014 - The Girl with a Clock for a Heart

Songs/Music
-----Max Richter - 24 Postcards in Full Colour
-----The End of the Affair soundtrack by Michael Nyman

Interviews
-----Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb – 2017 - Q&A with Peter Swanson
-----You might check out my 2014 interview of the author below my review of - The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
Profile Image for Debra .
2,132 reviews34.9k followers
March 9, 2020
Calling All Bloggers!!!! This book might make you want to resist/reconsider/re-think blogging lists; such as, your top ten favorite books, top ten favorite movies, or as is the case in this book - making a list about "The Eight Perfect Murders" found in fiction.

Malcolm "Mal" Kershaw is a bookstore owner and mystery aficionado has found himself caught up in a murder investigation when a killer begins using his blog list about "perfect" murders and uses those as inspiration and begins killing people. When an FBI agent knocks on his door one cold winter night to ask him questions about the books on his list, why he choose them and how they are connected to recent unsolved murders, Mal is intrigued and agrees to help.
Mal is an interesting character in that he fully acknowledges that he is not entirely good with people and the more he gets to know someone the more distant from them he begins to feel. He has a small circle of people in his life who are quirky and interesting as well. Plus, his bookstore, The Old Devil's Bookshop (how's that for a name? has a cat name Nero who is certainly more popular and interesting than his owner (isn't he?).

Is there a connection? Does the killer know Mal or is this individual a stranger who was inspired after reading the books on Mal's murder list? As the book progresses, Mal's past and his relationship with his dead wife also come to light. Is Mal a suspect or is he just an expert in the mystery genre? Are the murders perfect, or will the killer be brought to justice?

So, I was snuggled up on my couch reading and then there was a twist, a revelation, another twist, another revelation and once again, Peter Swanson reminded me why I am such a fan. His plots are well thought out, perfectly paced and intelligent. He knows how to keep a reader engaged and had me glued to my seat. I love trying to figure a book out (the whole whodunit) and had my super sleuth hat on while reading this one (I did not figure anything out) in this book. Needless, to say, I love that he had me guessing until pretty much the end. Plus, now he had me intrigued and wanting to read and re-read some of the books on the "Perfect Murder list". Plus, those who have been to Boston or live in Boston, will enjoy being able to say "I know that place!" or "I'm familiar with that street!" as Mal walks around the city.

Fans of Peter Swanson and the Mystery genre will not be disappointed.

Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
790 reviews1,747 followers
March 9, 2020
This one was a page turner from the beginning. (for me)

What a bookish tale!

A bookish narrator- Malcolm Kershaw

A bookish setting - Old Devils Bookstore

A bookish blog list - Going to have to read some of these and Strangers on A Train is one I own and will read next!

A bookish murder I guessed wrong!

Even a bookish cat!  Nero (don't worry he fares fine!)

While I was reading, I never wanted to close the book! I was always intrigued and changing my theory.  All I wanted to do was read, collect the clues and find out more. At one point, I said "I knew it", but no I didn't!

Finally a mystery that doesn't involve a missing child, an unstable female or a same old/ same old premise!

In the mood for a something different? Tired of all the predictable mysteries and underwhelming endings? I would highly recommend this one!

Brilliant! Don't miss it!!!

Thanks so much to Goodreads for this win! And EW for my e-copy! OUT MARCH 2020

 

 

 

 
Profile Image for Chelsea *Slowly Catching Up* Humphrey.
1,390 reviews77.2k followers
March 9, 2020
3.5 STARS

"Do you want to tell me why you're questioning me?"

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'?"


As an avid reader of anything that Peter Swanson writes, I couldn't wait to crack open Eight Perfect Murders. My first love affair with the written word outside of adolescence was with many of the books included on this perfect murders list, including Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, James M. Cain, etc. I'm an only child and an old soul, so most of my years growing up included black and white Alfred Hitchcock movies and books that were written before my parents were born, so you can see why I had such high expectations for this story going in. Overall, I did enjoy Eight Perfect Murders, and I think it will be a smashing hit in the book community.

Our story begins with an introduction to Malcolm Kershaw, and we quickly learn how he became a bookseller and why he's drawn into the FBI's investigation of a series of murders that look alarmingly similar to those in popular mystery novels. Malcolm has penned a list of what he considers to be eight of the most flawless murders carried out in suspenseful fiction, and the agent who interviews him believes the killer is drawing from Kershaw's exact list. Our protagonist isn't certain how he can help, other than to discuss in detail these murders with Agent Gwen Mulvey, but he decides being cooperative is a better way to keep the FBI at bay. If you've read anything by Swanson, then you know that his protagonists always have a secret or two that they are hiding, and it's the reader's job to figure out how big or small those secrets may be.

Obviously I'm not here to spoil the plot for you or tell you how it all wraps up, but I will say that this one has a slightly different feel to it than the author's previous novels. While my favorite aspect of the story was the inclusion of these books that I am so fond of, it also felt like the in depth discussion into these novels halted the flow and pacing of the story at hand. It's also worth noting that, if you haven't read any of the books listed in Malcolm's blog post and are wanting to read them for yourself, you may want to pick those up before starting this one. This isn't a slight against the author; he respectfully chose older books that a large portion of the fiction reading population have already devoured, but there are many spoilers throughout this book for the stories in the list. Aside from this, I thought the final 70% was well done and found myself glued to the book. Swanson pulls his trademark twists and turns, which is always a pleasant experience. If you're looking for a relatively short read full of mysterious nostalgia, put this one on your TBR for March!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,505 reviews24.5k followers
January 18, 2020
Peter Swanson writes the dream novel for crime and mystery fiction aficionados as he pays tribute to the genre, with the ideal unreliable narrator in bookseller Malcolm Kershaw who runs and part owns The Old Devil's Bookstore specialising in crime fiction, in Boston, Massachusetts. Many years ago Kershaw compiled in his blog a personal list of the eight perfect murders in crime fiction, it comprises of 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. In a wintry Boston in the present, FBI Special Agent Gwen Mulvey turns up at Kershaw's bookstore, convinced his list is bleeding from fiction into reality, with a killer working his way through it, guided into committing the perfect murders in real life.

Mulvey co-opts Kershaw into her investigation as they re-read and discuss the books on the list, he is aware he is a suspect, with more of his personal history slowly and skilfully revealed in the narrative. Malcolm is a loner, who struggles to connect with people beyond the initial developments of a relationship, the one and only exception being his beloved wife, Claire Mallory, a woman with her own past trauma and other issues. From childhood, his favourite genre has always been crime fiction although in more recent times he has not been able to read it, instead cribbing from reviews for current crime fiction to cover for his contemporary lack of knowledge. As he visits crime scenes with Mulvey, it becomes increasingly clear as more murders occur replicating those from the original list, that a killer is targeting those connected to him, getting ever closer to the bookseller himself, triggering Kershaw's urgent investigation to identify the killer.

Swanson litters this entire novel with other literary references to numerous well known crime novels, and I should warn readers who want to read from the blog list that they should do so prior to reading this as there are major spoilers included. The creation of the central protagonist, Malcolm Kershaw, and his development is done with skill and Swanson draws on classic well known tropes in the crime fiction genre with panache. This is the perfect multilayered read for crime fiction readers, and I have no doubt that this book will go down a storm on publication. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Faber and Faber for an ARC.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
499 reviews60.2k followers
March 14, 2020
Ooooh this shit SLAPPED! 👏
I love a good thriller gimmick, and following the plot of 8 classic murder mysteries books while they're being copycatted by an unknown killer present day was JUST what I needed.

From page 1 when when this book introduced itself as "Eight Perfect Murders: a memoir" I was hooked. The main character, a bookseller named Malcolm essentially talks directly to the reader, acknowledging what we may be thinking of him and the case throughout, which was *chef's kiss*. We love a smart, self aware narrative style.

So he basically wrote this blog post back in the day about 8 perfect murders from the mystery genre, from The ABC Murders to The Secret History, and now the FBI is on his doorstep looking into a string of real life murders that seems to follow his list. It gets a 4.5⭐ from me.

Thanks to @williammorrowbooks for sending me an early copy
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
961 reviews2,570 followers
March 9, 2020
***NOW AVAILABLE***

2 and ½ rounded up to a 3 for a good premise that went very wrong. Being a bookseller I always like books that take place in, about or around a bookstore.

O.K. finished this last night and I thought it was a big disappointment. It moved at a snail's pace, at least for me. It was at 70% on my Kindle before I actually felt the plot was picking up some speed.

Unless you read a lot of Agatha Christi and older mysteries and love them, I think you will get very tired of the mention over and over again about the books that the killer was basing his method of murder on. There was a lot of needless repetition, and I feel I no longer need to read those books as he has told me the plot and the way the murderer committed the crimes for each of these books.

There are so many characters in this book that it will make your head spin. The one that I really enjoyed was Ms. Mulvaney, the FBI agent who gets in trouble for following her instincts and working along with Mal, but she had her own suspicions about what was going on.

I don't understand this author. His first book had so many amoral and nasty things in it that I totally dislilked “All The Beautiful Lies” . The second one I read “Before She Knew Him" I enjoyed. I thought it was clever and fast paced. Now this one, ugh!!

I know I am already the outlier once again but I thought this book was boring. I didn't feel any tension while reading it and I didn’t really care about Mal who seemed self absorbed and was not very quick to figure out what was going on. There are so many red herrings in this book I felt like I was in an aquarium!

I don’t want to turn anyone off from this book so read a variety of reviews, there are plenty of higher reviews out there, we’re all different. I can only give my honest opinion and my feelings of being disappointed in what I had hoped was going to be a great read.

I received an EARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

This book is set to publish in March of 2020.

This was a Traveling Sisters buddy read.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,115 reviews2,182 followers
March 9, 2020
4.5

What a clever homage to the classic murder mystery! The author’s love shines through in these pages. Don’t come expecting a police procedural with the latest in forensic science. But come expecting to be thoroughly entertained. I have a particular love for the mystery authors of old like Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, and Ruth Rendell, and I binge-read most of them in my 20s. But modern day mystery authors, such as Donna Tartt, gets a nod too, so this book ticked all my boxes.

What could be more perfect than a mystery bookstore owner with an in-house cat named Nero (Nero Wolf)? There are literary references throughout the book, which made me want to drop what I was doing and read (or re-read) every book mentioned. I have a list.

Speaking of lists....Mal, the bookstore owner, is a widower who lost his wife in an unfortunate accident, and spends his evenings alone drinking craft beer and reading. His life is upended when he is contacted by the FBI, who suspects that a serial murderer is using his blog post, Eight Perfect Murders, which lists the eight perfect murders in fiction, as a blueprint for a killing spree.

As Mal becomes entwined in the investigation it becomes clear there is quite a tangled web to unweave. Along the way we learn bits and pieces of Mal’s life and backstory. There was a moment where I thought the story was going in a direction I couldn’t get behind but the author was clever enough to fool me and the ending was perfection.

This was a buddy read with my friend, Marialyce, and we enjoyed our discussion, especially of the ending.

I loved this clever, fun book and highly recommend it for avid fans of the mystery genre. I think those who have a true love for the craft will love this book. I closed the last page with a better knowledge and appreciation for classic murder/crime books.

I loved the author's book, The Kind Worth Killing. This book has once again made me a fan of Peter Swanson.

• I received a copy of the book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
*. For our duo review of this book and others please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 15 books1,442 followers
April 8, 2021
This one isn’t quite a wow, but I really enjoyed it just the same. What’s not to like a book about mysteries? Oddly the title is a misnomer, how can the murders be perfect if the suspects are all caught?
The story is told in first person which in this book really worked, though the author does do a little cheat by not telling use everything that the character knows. The plot is complicated but in the more than competent hands of Swanson I was never lost. The author does break the forth wall is several places coming out of the story and talking to the reader. Cool. It burst the ever sought after, Fictive Dream but in this case blended in with the voice and was almost expected. What I thought truly brilliant about this story is how the author disguises an old trope that has yet again risen in popularity, the plot in Strangers on a Train where strangers kill for each other to mire the motive and opportunity. The character is alive and three dimensional and I was with him all the way. The book starts a little slow and continues to spin up in suspense. I thought I knew what was happening and was reassured when the author broke the fourth wall and asked the reader if he/she/they caught the clues given and listed them. Nice.
I believe one reason Stephen King has been so popular was the way he connects with the reader, relates to them. The main character in this book owns and runs a used bookstore in Boston. Readers read a lot of books and Eight Perfect Murders constantly talks about many different books. The author also gave the main character the name of a real life and prominent book seller. A book seller I used when I sold my book collection. He flew out from Indiana. Just so you know I would never have sold my books, but I retired from southern California law enforcement and was going to work for the real-life Hawaii Five O. Books don’t weather well in Hawaii the humidity ruins almost overnight and I too many to pay for climate control. I digress. This is well worth the read and I highly recommend it.
David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson series.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.5k followers
March 21, 2020
I finished this a few days ago and I still have mixed feelings about it. I loved some aspects of it but was pretty underwhelmed by other parts. Here are my general thoughts:


POSITIVES:
-I was able to read it all in one day and it helped distract me from everything going on in the world right now
-I loved the style of the writing: how the beginning started with “a memoir” and the reader is trying to figure out if they can trust Malcom for the whole story
-I love that this feels like a tribute to crime mystery thrillers, as it discusses these perfect murders from eight different books in great detail
-Had two plot twists that I didn’t see coming

NEGATIVES:
-I feel like the ending was weak
-The narrator Malcom felt slightly pretentious and he irritated me a bit
-I don’t like that this book spoils the plot twists for eight other mystery crime novels
-Sometimes the book felt like it was so inspired by these eight murders that this story doesn’t stand really well on its own, like the story relied way too much on the mysteries happening in the other books
Profile Image for Beata.
703 reviews1,066 followers
March 24, 2020
This book was fun to read as the plot revolves around well-known murder mysteries, published over decades, and books. The narrator is the co-owner of a bookshop, and being a little less enthusiastic about reading, reviewing and blogging than in the past, he tries to do business but not at all cost. One day he is approached by an FBI agent who seeks his assistance with solving some unexplained murders, and this is when the ride begins.
Malcolm is an unreliable narrator (my favourite kind!), and we learn only as much about him as he allows us to. And as the story progesses, he surprises his readers.
My only concern is that this novel is suitable for readers who have read all books which make the spine for 'Rules For Perfect Murders'. Otherwise, reading this book first might spoil the pleasure of reading the classics, which are definitely worth doing so.
*I would like to thank Peter Swanson, Faber and Faber and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
Profile Image for Tina.
2,307 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2022
I listen to the audiobook of this book. This book is a psychological suspense thriller, and this is the first book in the Malcolm Kershaw series. I have been really been wanting to read this book. I got pulled into this book from the beginning. I enjoy listening to the audiobook so much. I have to say I did see some of the twist coming, but I also did not see some of them coming. I think me guessing the twist was part of why I enjoyed it so much. This is not like any other psychological suspense thriller I have read before.
May 15, 2020
4+ stars!

A refreshingly unique, suspenseful, clever and addictive mystery!

This was my first Peter Swanson book and I loved it! I connected with the writing, characters and storyline immediately and that connection remained strong throughout.

Malcolm owns a small bookstore with a loyal customer base. Years ago, he started a blog for the store and his first blog post outlined his list of eight of the most cleverly written murder mysteries. Years later, Malcolm is approached by the FBI who are investigating a string of murders that seem to be copying the murders within his list of eight books. These eight books do not appear together so concisely anywhere else.

There is a lot of reference to this list of eight murder mystery books, some of which are, Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders and Patrica Highsmith’s Strangers On A Train. Though I hadn’t read any of the books listed, the story outlines the theories and outcomes in each book — some might consider these spoilers, but for me with my terrible memory, it didn’t bother me. I’ll be able to read those books down the road and be shocked and surprised at who the murderer is.

There is something so very refreshing about the way this novel is written. None of the plot was filler. I hung onto every word and felt the tension and suspense in every chapter. The narration was one of my favourite parts of this novel - I adored Malcolm who guides us through the story. There was a secretive side to him that kept my curiosity building from start to finish. Malcolm was an extremely likeable character.

I adored the bookstore setting! And Nero the bookstore cat. The pace and flow were perfect. I did find it slightly confusing at times to remember which book or murder was being referred to but nothing that I couldn’t sort through quickly.

I highly recommend this to anyone who likes murder mysteries with a classic feel. Thank you to Edelweiss for my review copy!
Profile Image for Julie .
3,978 reviews58.9k followers
September 5, 2020
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson is a 2020 William Morrow publication.

A mystery lover’s delight!!

Malcom Kershaw is a bookstore owner whose main area of expertise happens to be crime fiction.

Several years back, Malcolm wrote a blog post in which he listed eight books he considered perfect fictional murders.

What books made the cut?

The Red House Mystery, Malice Aforethought, The A.B.C. Murders, Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Drowner, Deathtrap and The Secret History.

The blog post in question is still floating around in the internet stratosphere, evidently catching the attention of a fiendish murderer, who is now using Malcolm’s list as a guide, duplicating the methods employed in the eight books on the list.

The list has also caught the attention of the FBI, bringing them straight to Malcolm's door- which is where our story begins...


Once the FBI made the connection between Malcolm’s blog and the murders, the investigation naturally draws Malcolm into the center of it.

As we follow Malcolm's narration, a tribute to mystery novels develops alongside the intriguing and puzzling plot, touching on many of the various representations of crime fiction over the years.

Even if you are only moderately familiar with the books on this list, you can see how diverse the list is. The eight books listed range from whodunits to inverted mysteries- and of the three books I’ve read, all were absolutely genius!

Malcolm’s narration is a brilliant touch, as the reader finds themselves caught up in his saga, especially when it becomes clear that he’s gotten himself into a real jam, going from quiet bookstore owner to a man with his own secrets, with danger lurking around every corner...

Personally, I thought Swanson did a great job with weaving a mystery around the eight novels on Malcolm’s list, showcasing their magnificence, while supplying a sly dose of irony and satire that often made me smile.

The thing that makes this story work, is the same thing that makes all mysteries work. My appetite for a good mystery never wanes. I can never go too long without reading some form of crime fiction.



Why?



Because mysteries are an addicting diversion, because they challenge my mind while I try to work out all the angles. Because mysteries make my heart race, as the suspense mounts and the twists leave me breathless and stunned!

Because crime fiction is fun and entertaining in a way no other genre can match- and Peter Swanson pushed every one of those buttons- knowing his audience, knowing the elements we avid fans enjoy about crime fiction, and weaving them into this story in subtle, shrewd ways, just the way we like it.

Now, to be honest, I wouldn’t go into this book with a super serious mindset. If you do, you might miss the all the deliberate little Easter eggs planted here and there, which are meant specifically for mystery buffs to discover.

It’s supposed to be lighthearted recreation, a tribute to the best crime writers, and gift to readers who love the genre, but it’s also everything a mystery novel should be- engrossing, intelligent, crafty, and....

FUN!


*Note:

It is not necessary to read the books on Malcolm’s list to enjoy this book. However, I’ve still added the books I haven’t read to my TBR pile. Can’t wait to read them- plus, I am mightily tempted to re-read the three books on list I have read.... especially The Secret History!
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,008 reviews3,518 followers
February 21, 2020
By the looks of things it would appear I’m once again in the minority!

Malcolm Kershaw just got hired to work at a bookstore. One priority duty was to beef up their on-line presence. Really make it pop! Create a buzz that will have readers flocking to this local bookstore. First up, Malcolm compiled a list of his favorite unsolvable “perfect” murders.

So…what happens when people start mysteriously dying and their deaths are strikingly similar to those murders on his list? Well....the FBI comes calling! That’s what! Surely this is nothing more than a disturbing coincidence? Or is someone really following his little “favorites” list!

I’ve enjoyed Peter Swanson books in the past and the premise laid out had me excited to get started. Not to mention all the glowing reviews! But somehow it never took hold for me. The connection was never made. I think this was a case of its the reader, not the book.

Peter Swanson remains one of my go to authors and though this one didn't grab me, I will still be watching for his next release.

A buddy read with Susanne

Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins - William Morrow and Peter Swanson for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,082 reviews1,656 followers
March 1, 2020
Malcolm Kershaw, owner of the Old Devil’s Bookstore, in Boston once compiled a list titled “Eight Perfect Murders”.

He posted them on his blog, and now, FBI agent Gwen Mulvey has arrived at the bookstore, one cold, snowy night because she thinks there might be a killer out there, recreating the Murders from his list:

The Red House Mystery (1922) A.A. Milne
Malice Aforethought (1931) Anthony Berkeley Cox
The A.B.C. Murders (1936) Agatha Christie
Double Indemnity (1943) James M. Cain
Strangers on a Train (1950) Patricia Highsmith
The Drowner (1963) John D. MacDonald
Deathtrap (1978) Ira Levin
The Secret History (1992) Donna Tartt

I’ve listed them because if you have not read them, or seen the movies, and you read this book...the plots will be spoiled for you!

So, if you plan on reading them...read them first, and make this book 9!

If not, then enjoy Peter Swanson’s homage to crime writers past and present, in this, his latest novel, most reminiscent of the book that made him, famous, “The Kind Worth Killing”.

Very atmospheric, and if this book were a movie, I could picture it being made in “Autochrome Lumiere” (that muted color) as Boston was experiencing a very, snowy Winter throughout this story, and I could picture the cold nights and see the warm glow of lamps, as Mal, And Gwen reread the books on the list, and tried to figure out who the murderer could be...

All I am going to say is that although the pace of this book was a S L O W burn...Mr. Swanson caught me by surprise, MORE than once, again!!

As the saying goes...Patience has its rewards.

And, who doesn’t like a bookstore with a resident cat? 😼

Available March 3, 2020!
Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins-William Morrow and Peter Swanson for the ARC I received in exchange for a candid review!
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,057 reviews30k followers
March 14, 2020
Well, if this isn’t the “perfect” thriller for book lovers? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A bookseller lands himself in the middle of an FBI investigation because a killer is using his “best” list of fictional murders.

You see, Malcolm Kershaw, the bookseller, gathered a list of unsolved murders… make that “unsolvable” murders because they would be highly unlikely, if not impossible, to solve. He titled his list “Eight Perfect Murders,” and chose from some of the most well-known fictional works, A Secret History, A.B.C. Murders, and Double Indemnity, among others.

Like many of us, Malcolm spends his nights home alone reading…with the killer watching him.

Mal ends up taking on some leads into the investigation himself. He has to for his own safety. Will this game of cat and mouse ever stop?

Peter Swanson’s books are so psychologically smart. Gosh! It would be easiest to tell you that I loved it all, and I pretty much did. Malcolm’s love for books was pretty darn special. Eight Perfect Murders often felt like a classic murder mystery, and I loved every bit of that. It was like a story within a story. The ending was extremely satisfactory, and overall, I just plain loved it.

I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
May 21, 2020
for once in my life i'm glad i have the tendency to stockpile more books than i can read. this is my third date with peter swanson and he's fast becoming my author-version of that friend you can call up anytime and be guaranteed a fun night out on the town.

these days i am easily distracted and my brain feels like porridge most of the time, so even pleasure reading has been difficult for me. but this was a short, fast, one-day delight of a book that made me remember what it was like to not have to struggle to concentrate and actually enjoy reading. i fell into this pretty easily and it held my attention throughout, so it's comforting to know i have THREE other books by him floating around in these stacks.

this one is a particular gift for fans of mystery novels, and young booknerds who grew up into adulthood with unrealistic, unmet, expectations of how it was all gonna be:

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.


yet for our dear unreliable narrator mal—the mild-mannered co-owner of a mystery bookstore in boston—life is about to live up to the spirit if not the specifics (no quicksand, booo!) of his youthful expectations when he is visited, on a dark and snowstormy night, by special agent gwen mulvey of the FBI, who informs him that there's a killer afoot who is treating the book list mal made for the store's blog—a list of 'eight perfect murders'—as a to-do list, and the bodies are piling up.

dunh dunh DUNH!!

i love curating book lists and i am VERY GOOD AT IT. my much-mourned dream job was doing precisely this, and if any of my murdery lists had ever inspired a serial killer (blood on the snow! 'til death do us part! the killing games!), i would have been very flattered and ready to hunker down and talk about books all day long to help solve the crime, although i suspect my killer-catching skills are a distant second to my listmaking skills.

mal is decent at both, so he assists in the investigation, looking into several recent killings for connections either to the methods of murder or the philosophy of the murderers in the eight novels, sharing some, but not all, of what he discovers with gwen, for reasons. he will feel less conflicted about sharing with the reader the whos and hows and occasionally the whys of the murders in all eight books on his list. if you've already read these books, it's fun to see them adapted into slightly different murdershapes for swanson's purposes. if you haven't, well, it'll either be glass half empty and he spoils those books for you or glass half full and he saves you the trouble of reading them.

if you're an avid mystery reader, you've probably read at least a few of them, and if you have, you'll be savvy enough to predict a few moves that swanson's book makes, but calling some of them early doesn't diminish the fun of reading it at all; it's like taking a meandering meta journey through mystery's literary history—swanson incorporating elements from several different mystery subgenres before wrapping it all up in one big homage.

i am grateful that my porridge brain wan't too lumpen to enjoy this, and i admire swanson's confidence in writing this book, knowing that many people would be unwilling to read it because spoooooooilers.

these are the books on his list, which you will know things about if you read this book:

The A.B.C. Murders - Agatha Christie
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith
Deathtrap - Ira Levin
The Red House Mystery - A. A. Milne
Malice Aforethought - Anthony Berkeley Cox
Double Indemnity - James M. Cain
The Drowner - John D. Macdonald
The Secret History - Donna Tartt

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,155 reviews36.3k followers
March 9, 2020
3.5 Stars

A Rulebook for the Perfect Murder? Say What?!

When starting out, bookseller Malcolm Kershaw created a blog which incorporated best of lists. Who knew that his Best of List for the “Eight Perfect Murders” in Literature would become a rulebook for unsolved murders in New England.

Mal is now the owner of an infamous bookstore in Boston when the FBI comes a knocking, he can't help but be intrigued. When they ask for his help investigating, he jumps at the chance. When Mal realizes that he has a connection to one of the victims, all of the pieces fall into place.

The problem of course is that you can run but you can’t hide, no matter how hard you try.

“Eight Perfect Murders” by Peter Swanson is a compelling thrill ride that was quite the tangled web, which I enjoyed doing my best to untangle. I read this with my book buddy Kaceey, and had this one figured out quite early on, much to her amazement. While I found the first half of this novel utterly suspenseful, I found the ending to be a bit lackluster. On the whole however, I thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend it to mystery/suspense lovers.

This was another fabulous buddy read with Kaceey.

Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins - William Morrow and Peter Swanson for the arc.

Published on Edelweiss and Goodreads on 12.21.19.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
June 30, 2020
”Even though I stopped reading crime novels myself--violent death loomed too large in them--I knew enough to help my customers. I was a bookseller, and I was good at it. That was enough.”

There are a lot of things Malcolm Kershaw doesn’t want to talk about. Life has thrown him some unexpected curveballs. The biggest one being his wife dying in a car accident. There is plenty of blame to go around, but Malcolm knows who is most responsible for his wife’s death.

Eric Atwell--drug dealer.

He isn’t surprised when Special Agent Claire Mallory shows up in his bookstore wanting to question him, but he is surprised when she wants to question him about a blog list he wrote several years ago.

Eight Perfect Murders--the most brilliant unsolved murders in fiction.

It seems, if Special Agent Mallory’s theory is correct, that a killer is using Malcolm’s list to perpetrate similar murders. Crime writers have done all the work for any burgeoning murderer. A summer spent reading the very best of Agatha Christie might be the best research a person with murder on his mind could do. As Malcolm and Claire ponder the evidence, looking for aspects that fit the crimes from the blog list, it starts to become evident to Malcolm that maybe….just maybe...he knows the killer.

The next logical question he must ask himself...is he on the killer’s list? Can he prove who the killer is before the killer makes him a statistic?

Generally, Peter Swanson writes what I call modern noir mysteries with spine tingling twists, so this book is somewhat of a departure from his normal writing. I was excited and worried that it was set in a bookstore. One of the hazards of working in a bookstore for many years is that I’m hyperaware of anything in bookstore fiction that doesn’t feel authentic. Swanson has done his research or spent a stint, before he became a bestseller author, ringing up sales in a used bookstore. Everything book-related rings true for me.

Some of the reviewers of this book have complained that Swanson reveals the plots of the eight perfect murders. He kind of...has to...for the sake of the plot. As people who have read my reviews know, I’m not sympathetic to readers overly obsessed with “spoilers,” but seriously, people, if the plot revolves around the murders in the list of eight books, you have to realize that the plots of those books will be revealed. *sigh* Maybe what you should do is read all eight mysteries before reading this book. I hope that you will find some new books and authors to love, and it may even increase your enjoyment of this book. Regardless, if you don’t have time or inclination to read the eight books before reading this one, you will still enjoy this novel, especially if you like Boston bookstore settings and a nice, twisty, Agatha Christie-inspired ending. I also give Swanson extra bonus points for mentioning Charles Willeford’s rather brilliant The Burnt Orange Heresy, which I had the pleasure of reading recently.

This book comes up on GR as Malcolm Kershaw #1, which might be an indication that Swanson intends to continue to write Kershaw mysteries. I hope he doesn’t abandon his standalone, modern mysteries to start feeding the ravenous maw of series obsessed readers, but I do understand the realities of publishing. A well-received mystery series is like the commissions on annuities for a life insurance salesman.

”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.”

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March 11, 2020
EXCERPT: 'You think these murders are related to the book?'

'I do,' she said. 'It's too fantastical for it not to be.'

'Is it you think someone's copying the books in order to get away with a murder? That someone wanted to murder Robin Callahan, for example, but then murdered the other people to make it look like a serial killer obsessed with birds?'

'Maybe,' Agent Mulvey said, and she rubbed a finger along the edge of her nose, up near her left eye. Even her small hands were pale, the fingernails unpainted. She was quiet again. It was a strange interview, full of pauses. She was hoping I'd fill in the silence, I guess. I decided not to say anything.

Eventually she said, 'You must be wondering why I came to talk with you.'

'I am,' I said.

'Before I tell you, I'd like to ask you about one other recent case.'

'Okay.'

'You probably haven't heard of it. A man named Bill Manso. He was found near the train tracks in Norwalk, Connecticut, back in spring. He was a regular commuter on a particular train, and initially it looked as though he'd jumped, but now it looks as though he was killed elsewhere and brought to the tracks.'

'No,' I said, shaking my head. 'I didn't hear about it.'

'Does it remind you of anything?'

'Does what remind me of anything?'

'The nature of his death.'

'No,' I said, but that wasn't entirely true. It did remind me of something, but I couldn't remember exactly what it was. 'I don't think so,' I added.

She waited again, and I said, 'Do you want to tell me why you're questioning me?'

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?''

ABOUT THIS BOOK: If you want to get away with murder, play by the rules

A series of unsolved murders with one thing in common: each of the deaths bears an eerie resemblance to the crimes depicted in classic mystery novels.

The deaths lead FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey to mystery bookshop Old Devils. Owner Malcolm Kershaw had once posted online an article titled 'My Eight Favourite Murders,' and there seems to be a deadly link between the deaths and his list - which includes Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train and Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

Can the killer be stopped before all eight of these perfect murders have been re-enacted?

MY THOUGHTS: I don't think my heart has ever lurched in my chest before. I have been breathless, actually stopped breathing, had marks in the palms of my hands from my fingernails, and had my heart pound, but never before has it actually lurched. It definitely did in Rules For Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson when the killer revealed himself. The circumstances in which he does so deserves to have a musical score written for it.

This is a clever book. It is not fast paced; instead the tension builds slowly, imperturbably. There is only one narrator, Mal, the owner of a bookshop specialising in mysteries. There is a lot of dialogue, something I don't usually enjoy, but it works well here. There is a lot about this book that is different - in the very best of ways. I loved every moment of this read.

The eight books Mal has listed for 'Eight Perfect Murders' are ones a lot of us are familiar with, but there were a few there I hadn't read (I will remedy that). Swanson continues to refer to other mysteries throughout the book - I have come away with a huge reading list! This is a bookish book, for bookish people, and one I will be buying a hard copy of. I expect to read it again. If I could nominate this as a modern classic murder mystery, I would. This deserves to be with the Agatha Christies, which is exactly where it will be being placed on my library shelves.

📚📚📚📚📚

'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 AUTHOR: Peter Swanson is the author of six 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 thriller, Eight Perfect Murders. 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.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber & Faber via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Rules For A Perfect Murder by Peter Swanson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
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