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Eight Perfect Murders

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Member Reviews

Wow! This was intense! Caroline Kepnes fans, I recommend this one while we're waiting for You season 3 and a 3rd Joe Goldberg book.

While a few components of this story were predictable, I still really liked this novel. I loved all the literary references. Peter Swanson is a master of his craft. I'm a big fan of his books, and a little sad that I've read everything he has out. Might be time to reread...

Thanks, Netgalley, for this arc. I really enjoyed this one.
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Eight Perfect Murders was a fast-paced, quick read that, while easy enough to breeze through, ultimately fell just short of the mark for me. We follow Malcolm, the proprietor of a mystery bookstore who had, years earlier, posted a list of 8 Perfect Murders on the bookstore's blog. When someone starts committing murders, seemingly making their way down Malcolm's list, Malcolm is brought onto the investigation to provide literary insight. As the murders continue, it is clear that whoever is committing them knows Malcolm - and is perhaps trying to frame him as well. 

Eight Perfect Murders is a murder mystery for fans of murder mysteries - you need to be familiar enough with the genre to both understand the literary references and to appreciate the nods to tropes that Swanson includes throughout the text. Despite finding it compulsively readable, I struggled to connect to any of the characters in this book or to care about what was happening. Our main character is an unreliable drunk and he tells you not to trust him - or any other narrator - right out of the gate. The side characters felt like pointless non-starters - they distract you from what's actually going on, but ultimately they contributed almost nothing to the story.

Overall, this was a fun and easy read with twists that fell just short of being "mind blowing." Fans of bookish mysteries or thriller aficionados will probably get the most out of this story.
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Malcolm Kershaw is a bookseller in Boston.  He has always loved books - mysteries in particular.  Now, he has mystery of his own.  Years ago, his first blog post was a list of eight books he considered to have the perfect murder scenarios.  The post garnered only two comments and he quickly forgot about it, until an FBI agent appears at his door.  She believes there is an unidentified killer is using Malcolm’s lost to craft “perfect” murders.  At first a suspect and then an amateur investigator, Malcolm tries to uncover the truth behind the murders.

Eight Perfect Murders is a clever tale that provides many surprises.  The characters are interesting and the reader will find that the obvious can sometimes be deceiving.  I enjoyed Mr Swanson’s book, with its literary references, Bostonian landmarks, and original story line.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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The premise -- an introverted widower, Malcolm Kershaw, manages Old Devils Bookstore in Boston. Once upon a time, in 2004, he wrote a blog post as a store promotion listing perfect murders in crime fiction. He came up with 8 titles (listed in synopsis if you want to read or reread) after quite the agonizing ordeal and, in fact, even going so far as to put down a couple that he hadn't actually read but researched the plots. The obvious point of the post was to chose the most clever, most ingenious, and most foolproof in crime fiction history. The post was published and Malcolm expects a deluge of reactions and receives only two comments. So much for viral sensation. In fact, he's all but forgotten about the post until Special Agent Gwen Mulvey of the FBI shows up to ask some questions about it. Seems that someone is murdering people using the plots in the books that Malcolm listed. Intrigued, Malcolm decides to look into these unsolved crimes especially once he figures out that whoever is doing this must actually know him. NO SPOILERS. 

If you're a fan of old, classic mystery thrillers, this is a quick read that should keep you fully engaged as you try to anticipate what is going on and why. I read this in a couple of hours this evening as it is quite short and moves along quickly. That said, I think I'm not really the most appreciative audience as I'm really only mildly interested in the type of books that the author has based the story on though I am a committed suspense thriller reader. I have read and really enjoyed Swanson's other books, but this one didn't quite hit the mark for me with twists, thrills, chills or suspense. I look forward to his next book.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for the e-book ARC to read and review.
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The thing I loved most about this book was the deep intimacy all of the characters have with mystery authors and their works.  It was fun to think about books I have read, books I know by reputation, and books I had never heard of. Highly recommended for fans of mysteries, both contemporary and from the Golden Age.
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This was the first book I've read from this author and it did not disappoint! From the narrator/protagonist's characterization to the inclusion of a few classic mystery titles, this book is definitely for those who enjoy a good psychological suspense thrown in to their mystery.
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I am not an expert on mystery novels, since this is actually the first adult mystery I have read. Therefore I will not be comparing this book to others in the same genre.

However, let me tell you what I enjoyed!

I loved the mention of all the books in this novel. How the author took time to tell you about what paperback cover each book was. It reminded me of pulp fiction covers and made the book lover in me intensely satisfied.

Though this was not an impossible mystery to guess, the book makes you constantly second guess your guesses.

I loved the bookstore setting with the polar opposite employees, the affectionate store cat, and the quirky customers.

This book is a great weekend read for book lovers!
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Great mystery that if you love mystery will share that love with you.  With an unreliable narrator and references to great classic mysteries this book is hard to put down..
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3.5 ---
This book was a bit of a letdown, though everything about it appealed to the book lover inside me. A list of 8 classic crime novels with perfects murders within their plot lines, a bookstore owner and true crime novel enthusiast and the appearance of an FBI agent investigating. There are some twists and turns in this book and I loved the connections to other pieces of literary work. It was good, but just good and didn't satisfy my mystery expectations.
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Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the ARC. 

This book was very middle of the road for me. I definitely didn’t guess the identity of the villain, but I also wasn’t that curious. The story plodded along, and I dutifully followed, but I was borderline bored. I think if you are a mystery book aficionado, you would probably find greater nuance in the plot. It was a quick read, and that kept me reading, but I just wasn’t as entertained as I’d hoped. 

2.5 stars rounded up to 3.0.
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Beware the bookish blogpost that comes back to bit you in the bum. Malcolm Kershaw is visited by an FBI agent at his indie bookstore, Old Devil's. The agent's name is Gwen and she needs to question Mal about murders that seem to be mirroring his blogpost listing eight mystery novels that contain perfect murders. So far, Gwen suspects three of the titles have been reenacted. Who is the murderer? Which one of the dead was the true target? What is Mal not telling us as he shares his memoir with the reader? Bibliophiles will love the inclusion of classic mystery plots from books like "The ABC Murders" by Agatha Christie and the other seven books on the list (even A.A. Milnes's "Red House Mystery"). I especially loved Nero the orange tabby and resident bookstore cat. This is my favorite Peter Swanson title yet!

Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Towards the end of Eight Perfect Murders narrator Mal writes about The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, “It’s a dull book, really, until you get to the last chapters.”  Eight Perfect Murders  is not exactly dull, but it’s only at the end where the solutions are crammed together and presented in a rush.  On the plus side, this novel reads quickly and has an interesting, albeit not unique premise: someone is committing a series of murders, each of which is based on a book that our main character, Mal, has listed in his bookstore’s blog as “perfect.”  On the negative side, in addition to the ending issue noted above, characters are presented without much depth, almost as disposables, even those who are not murdered.  And, as might be expected, one has to suspend reality as multiple killings take place.  Finally, to make the novel work, Swanson has to summarize his title books, but the plot revelations will not be welcomed by readers who have not yet read them.
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Love all of Peter Swanson books and this one didn’t disappoint!! Twists & turns I wasn’t expecting...
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Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for an eARC of this title. 

I was excited to read this because of the idea that someone is killing people based on murders in books. Readers and lovers of mysteries will be intrigued to see how Swanson weaves these literary murders into this novel. 
Eight Perfect Murders jumped into the story and hooked me immediately. The writing was easy to follow and made it a quick read. This book kept me guessing throughout. However, I felt the reveal let me down. The narrator reveals a lot in a few pages. It feels like the ending was rushed to get all the information to readers before it wrapped up. 
This book did introduce me to some other novels that are now on my radar.
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Mystery buffs will really enjoy this one! The premise is so creative, and there are allusions to eight classic mysteries throughout. A fun read that I am looking forward to recommending.
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3.5 ---Everything about this book appeals to book lovers. A list of 8 classic crime novels with perfects murders within their plot lines, a bookstore owner/crime novel enthusiast, and an FBI agent investigating seemingly bookish murders. There are many twists and turns in this book and I love the connections to other pieces of literary work, but this book just didn't do it for me. It was good, but it didn't satisfy my mystery expectations. I will mention that this book references quite a few mystery/crime novels to the full extent of spoiling entire plots so read with caution, especially if you have a few of those books on your "to read" list.
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The title of this book grabbed me, as I'm an Agatha Christie and other cozy mysteries fan.  While I had never read anything else by this author, his writing is wonderful!  He tied together so many details in this book, highlighting many of my other favorites and the plot kept me guessing until the end.
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Peter Swanson wrote a book with an ending that you won't see coming.   Eight Perfect Murders is intriguing with many twists and turns.
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Hmmmm. This book reminded me of a mashup of two pop culture pieces from recent years, one of which I can tell you about because it's clear from the book jacket (the TV show Castle, in which the police consult a mystery novelist whose plots are appearing in real murders—though here it is the FBI and a mystery book store owner). The other I can't mention without giving away a twist that appears about a third of the way into the book (this one is a novel that was also made into a TV series). The first one is a great trope for a mystery novel and doesn't feel tired; the second is also a great idea, but it doesn't seem as exciting when you're not the original employer.

I did love how he paid homage to some of the classics of mystery in his blog post of 8 perfect murders—The A.B.C. Murders, Strangers on a Train, The Red House Mystery, Double Indemnity, The Drowner, The Secret History, and others. He also tosses in references to other books outside the list, such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None. Of course, there are lot of spoilers for these books over the course of this one, but I still find myself wanting to check out some of these classics and/or their film adaptations.

There are echoes of the two items I mentioned in the first paragraph and acknowledgements of many of the classics through the course of this short book. The plot feels comfortably familiar as it pays tribute to the mystery and suspense genres, yet there are many surprises too. It's quick, it's light, it's fun. Definitely a must-read for mystery fans, not for its freshness but for its familiarity.
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Eight Perfect Murders
A Novel
by Peter Swanson
HarperCollins Publishers
William Morrow
General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers
 Listen to an Audio Excerpt
Pub Date 03 Mar 2020   |   Archive Date 03 Mar 2020

Thanks to Net Galley and Harper Collins publishers for the ARC of this book. Interesting premise to a mystery.  I thought it had some rather weak plot lines or I would have given it a higher rating.
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