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Eight Perfect Murders

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Many mystery fans are intrigued by the notion of the “perfect murder”. In Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson, bookstore owner Malcom Kershaw’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of an old blog post. Someone has taken a list of what he considered to be nearly perfect murders from classic crime novels and started acting them out. FBI agent Gwen Mulvey thinks Mal might be able to help her stop the killer… or is she just trying to rule him out as a suspect? 

Mal is caught between helping Agent Mulvey solve the case and protecting his secrets – and his life. This book will appeal to classic mystery fans as well as readers who just enjoy the twists, turns, and misdirections of psychological suspense. The ending was unexpected; but the fact that I have several more books on my “to be read” list was obvious from the start.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for access to the advanced copy of this book.
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What a clever premise to build the plot around the 8 perfect mystery novel murders! This is a great addition to one my favorite genres, bookstore-centered fiction, and with the added bonus of more suggested titles to read. I enjoyed a different spin on an unreliable narrator, with enough uncertainty to keep me reading.
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Like many things in literature, the definition of “perfect murder” is a little wobbly. It generally means a murder in which the perpetrator not only gets away with the crime, but they might also escape suspicion entirely. In fiction, there might also be criteria for originality, believability, and other qualifiers. These criteria mean that people will always argue about what the most perfect murders in fiction actually are. In Eight Perfect Murders, by Peter Swanson, protagonist Malcolm Kershaw constantly has to defend his list of eight novels with perfect murders—a list that comes under more fire than usual when it appears to be inspiring a serial killer.

When FBI agent Gwen Mulvey shows up at Malcolm’s Boston-based mystery book store, I thought that her theory that a handful of unsolved murders were connected by Malcolm’s old list of perfect murders was really thin. If you squinted at the particulars of these cases and turned the paper sideways, you might be able to see links. Malcolm decides to squint and turns the pages sideways, after some resistance, and joins up with Gwen to solve some puzzling cases. Perhaps it’s because it’s flattering to be contacted by the FBI. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t have much going on in his life. Perhaps it’s because of secrets that will be revealed later. At any rate, Malcolm soon finds himself in way over his head in one of the weirdest mystery plots I’ve ever encountered.

I can’t say that it all hangs together. I wasn’t exactly wrong in thinking that Gwen’s case was thin. I certainly didn’t expect it to go where Malcolm ended up. I’m not entirely sure I buy it. What I did believe were the parts of the book that show how easy it is for thought experiments about the perfect murder lead some people to actually commit acts they think they can get away with. We like to think that only the most evil kill people—and there are some really evil people in Eight Perfect Murders—but some killers are people who’ve been pushed too far, suffer a lapse in ethical judgment, and then scramble not to get caught. In the case of this novel, people scramble not to get caught in a highly elaborate scheme that any mystery reader knows is doomed to fail. We know this because, even in stories of the most perfect murders, the killer has to confess what they’ve done to us readers.

In spite of some parts that I think stretch credibility too far, this book will pique readers’ interests—especially the interests of readers who want to see something highly original. I might go so far as to say that this book should only be recommended to mystery readers because they’ll enjoy all of the references to classic mystery fiction. They will also be less likely to be annoyed by all of the spoilers Malcolm drops in connecting his list to all the murders because they will have read most if not all of those books.
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First line: The front door opened, and I heard the stamp of the FBI agent’s feet on the doormat.

Summary: On a snowy morning Malcolm Kershaw gets a call from an FBI agent asking about a list of his favorite fictional murders he wrote years ago on his bookstores blog. What does an old blog post have to do with a string of recent murders? According to Gwen, the FBI agent, it appears that someone is using this list to commit their own murders. Malcolm starts doing his own search into the suspects. Who are they and how are they connected to him? Sometimes life can be stranger than fiction.

My Thoughts: While reading this I found myself comparing it to The Woman in the Window. I don’t think it had much to do with the actual mystery but more with the books/movies recommended by the narrator. I even put holds on several of the movies and looked for copies of the mystery novels mentioned.

I love how the author calls out how so many thrillers are trying to follow the unreliable narrator like in Gone Girl. It has become a mystery trope but not one that is truly new. However, we still continue to read them because they are just so much fun. I think Malcolm though is not an unreliable narrator. He is very upfront about things but he omits some stuff as well until the end.

This was a fun fast paced journey through snowy Boston. I kept trying to figure out the twist. I can honestly say I did not consider how it would end. But he even leaves us wondering if the conclusion is 100% true. This is my first Peter Swanson novel and I think I will read more in the future.

FYI: Be prepared to add old mystery novels to your TBR list.
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Peter Swanson's latest will appeal to old fans and new readers alike. A solid purchase where his other titles or thrillers in general are popular. The easter eggs will delight ardent fans of the crime genre.
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Malcolm is a widower who runs a mystery bookstore, but he doesn't read murder mysteries anymore. Years ago, though, he wrote a blog post about eight perfect murders from fiction. Now, an enthusiastic FBI agent thinks someone is using his choices not as a To Read list, but as a To Do list. The evidence is sparse, but Mal feels compelled to tag along as she investigates. The corpses start to pile up, hitting closer to home and threatening secrets Mal would very much like to keep hidden. An ode to classic mysteries that can twist like the best of them.
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This book truly surprised me from beginning to end. I've never read a Peter Swanson book before but once I was sucked in, I could barely put it down. That is a hard feet for me since it takes a lot to get me sucked in. But this book accomplished that. 

The narrator is truly the best part. You get sucked into his world and feel sympathy for his plight. When you first start to think he is a boring bookseller whose wife has passed away, he surprises you. I enjoyed the character of Malcolm for the first time in a long time, and I do not regret reading this. Without giving too much away, I highly recommend it for your patrons or if you are a mystery fan. This book is surprising, and worthy of conversation. I host a mystery book club and I will be recommending this to them to read during one of our discussions. This will not be a boring conversation or read. I highly, highly recommend you give this a read. 

Thanks again to Netgalley for the advance copy. It was truly worth the read.
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Many years ago Malcolm started writing a blog at the bookstore he worked at one blog post, in particular, was called "8 Perfect Murders"  murders in books that Malcolm thought was perfect.  One winter morning an FBI agent stops by asking Malcolm about the blog post.  It seems like some of the murders the FBI is trying to solve are linked to the years-old blog post.  Suddenly, Malcolm is rereading the blog post in a new comment appears.  The commenter is a character of a book that is on the list but does not have murder tied to it yet...
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Years ago mystery book store owner Malcolm wrote a blog post about the 8 perfect murders in mystery books. Now the FBI is investigating a series of unconnected murders that seem to be following his list. Who is doing this? Is it Malcolm? Or is someone setting him up? A celebration of mysteries that will keep you reading to find out who is committing murder and who will be next.
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Quick read that keeps you guessing.doesn't quite met the high of the extremely twisty The Kind Worth Killing, but still a great thriller about revenge and human nature, with lots of literary references that elevate the book to more than the standard whodunit.
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I like Peter Swanson's style because his writing is very descriptive and he really pays attention to detail. While this book is not is not my favorite Swanson title, it did provide some entertainment while I read it.
A bookstore owner is being questioned by the FBI because there have been a string of murders in the Northeast and they appear to follow the murders in the books  listed in a blog post titled, "Eight Perfect Murders." The bookstore owner wrote the blog post. How does he fit in to all of this?

I have to keep reminding myself that there are rarely any good people in Peter Swanson's thrillers. Everyone seems to have a bit of bad/evil in them, so you really don't quite know who the "bad guy" is. This one moves pretty slow and steady for the first two -thirds of the story, with plenty of description. It quickly gets moving and wraps up in the last third of the book, at which point you can say, "Oh, wow, didn't see that coming!"

While not as intricate as "The Kind Worth Killing" or "Her Every Fear," I did find I enjoyed this better than "Before She Knew Him."

Thanks to HarperCollins Publishers, William Morrow, and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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I’m a big fan of Peter Swanson- I’ve read many of his books and I’ll continue reading them. Eight Perfect Murders is not my favorite of his, but I still enjoyed it.
Malcolm Keyshaw (Mal) is the narrator and co-owner of Old Devils Bookshop, a Boston bookstore which specializes in mysteries. Years ago he wrote a blog called Eight Perfect Murders, where he listed classic mystery novels in which he considered to be perfect. The story begins when Mal gets a visit from an FBI detective who suggests that someone is replicating the murders from the blog.
First I want to mention the premise for this book is such a cool idea, as a librarian and someone who often reads mysteries/thrillers I loved the storyline and Mal’s appreciation for literature. There are a lot of references to mystery authors, books, and poetry. It was interesting how the Eight Perfect Murders book titles intermixed within the story. Similar to Agatha Christie and other classics, the storyline starts slow with hints along the way then picks up the last few chapters.
While I enjoyed the idea and the writing, I was a little underwhelmed after finishing the book. When the reader finally does find out what happened and some of the secrets, it wasn’t a big surprise really. Also there are many names mentioned, oftentimes it was hard to keep everyone straight. The one character I really did like was FBI agent Gwen Mulvey, I wish she had more involvement with the ending. I prefer faster paced novels with more twists, however, if you are a fan of classic mysteries you will enjoy this!

One of the best quotes from this novel- "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"

3.5 stars
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC.
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I have become a huge fan of Peter Swanson, but this newest book didn't quite hit the mark for me.  I was still compelled to turn each page, but many of the older crime authors and titles weaved into the narrative were unfamiliar to me.  I prefer when he writes more of a domestic thriller.
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I had several issues with this book, mostly to do with the writing style. I struggled to get through so much of the dialogue in this book, because so much of it was so mundane: i.e. pretty much every time the main character had to arrange a meeting with someone, the reader has to read a blow by blow of the meeting being arranged, and then, during the actual meeting, everything that each character orders from the restaurant/bar they're at. I don't think this added very much to the book at all, especially considering the fact that during the one conversation I wouldn't have minded reading a full blow by blow of (when the murderer is confronted) we end up getting exposition of that conversation instead. To top all this off, I thought that every character sounded the same, and some of the responses to shocking details were so flat that I went back to reread the exchanges to make sure I'd read them correctly.  I found this really frustrating, honestly.

Something else I found frustrating  was how every time one of the eight books of the Eight Perfect Murder list was brought up its plot was recapped...including on the last page. But then, I had a lot of issues with those last few pages and how many things were revealed/squashed into just a few pages. I understand that the unreliable narrator is popular with other people (and lampshaded quite often in the book) but...there's a limit. For me, at least.

I can respect that classic mystery fans - or general mystery fans - might find more to love about this book than I did, but unfortunately what they see, I can't. This book was not for me.
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I was all set to give Eight Perfect Murders 5 stars but I didn’t love the end enough to quite get there.

But I loved the premise and most of the delivery. Malcolm Keyshaw is the first person narrator. He is part owner of a mystery bookshop. A few years back, he wrote a blog posting about eight classic mysteries with perfect murders. Flash forward, and he gets a visit from a detective who suggests that someone may have picked up on his blog to replicate the murders... From there, Swanson builds a delicious tangled web. So much of the story draws on other mysteries, which is so much fun. And as Malcolm ponders the increase in unreliable narrators, one wonder how reliable Malcolm is...

This won’t be for everyone because it’s slow and careful. But I loved the slow layered shifting narrative. And I loved all the references to other classic mysteries. It definitely made me feel like reading — and in some cases rereading — all eight books on the list.

As I said, I didn’t love the end. I felt the story lost some of it’s originality as we discover what’s really going on. But I still thought that this was mostly fabulous.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Great read with lots of plot twists that I didn't predict.  I loved the book.
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This was a fantastic mystery and I appreciated all of the book talk within the book. This is one of the first mysteries I've read in a while where I didn't even suspect the real murderer and I appreciated that the unreliable narrator was foreshadowed. There were several twists even after the climax that I thought were excellent.
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Peter Swanson is at that top of his game & the top of my can't wait for his book list!  A mystery that pays homage to some of the great mysteries of all time (which I now have to go back & read or watch).  With Eight Perfect Murders, Swanson weaves a great cast of characters into a wild ride that you are never sure when it will suddenly veer off the road in a different direction!  Please keep them coming Mr Swanson!  Hoping he will be at the Public Library Association Conference in Nashville this February right before the release of this book!
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I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. Malcolm Kershaw is the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston. His book store specializes in the mystery genre. Several years ago, Malcolm published a list of mystery titles, called "Eight Perfect Murders" on the bookstore's blog. What a surprise when the FBI comes calling and begins to question him about the titles. Malcolm is definitely very clever and cunning. This was a very surprising book.
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After reading so many recent thrillers that all feature some variation of the unreliable female narrator, it was so refreshing to read Peter Swanson’s update of the classic murder mystery! Malcolm Kershaw, a widower, runs a bookstore in Boston. He is content with a quiet life spent with his cat and his books, until a young FBI agent questions him about a blog post he once wrote about eight perfect murders in classic crime novels. It appears that a killer is using Malcolm’s list for their next victims, and Malcolm isn’t certain if the FBI needs his help or if he is the prime suspect. I don’t want to say anymore for fear of spoiling the plot! You’ll have to read this one—once I started, I couldn’t put it down, and I loved the way everything was revealed! Highly recommended!
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