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Eight Perfect Murders

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Member Reviews

This a a mystery book for hard-core mystery lovers. It’s full of twists and turns that make for an enjoyable read. The writing is solid and well done. This is a great mystery to pick up on a long winters night.
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This was the first book that I read from Peter Swanson. I enjoyed the read, except that it gave spoilers for actual books that I wanted to read in the future.
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The concept for this one gets an A+. A mystery bookstore owner with a viral "Eight Perfect Murders" blog post and suddenly a real serial killer is murdering people based on the list? Yes, please! Unfortunately, I think Swanson's writing just didn't do it for me. I found the "twists" I got to (before I DNF'd this) predictable, and the characters dull and uncompelling and I found myself never wanting to pick this back up after putting it back down.
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Eight Perfect Murders is the perfect book for mystery lovers. It has all the things you look for in a classic mystery
novel Peter Swanson never disappoints , If you like classic who did it. you will love Eight perfect Murders.
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**I received this as an ARC from Netgalley**

I was so intrigued by this book and the premise. A serial killer basing his crimes on the best unsolvable murders in literature?  Sign me up!  There’s a pretty big reveal about 2/3s of the way through that had me like “wait, what” and by the very end I was like “wait, WHAT. WHAT IS HAPPENING” and I feel like I should reread the whole book to see if I can figure it out. 

This book is intriguing and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Highly recommend.
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Terrific book, and terrific podcast host! Thank you! 
We loved covering Peter on the #amwriting podcast.
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What if you published a list of the eight perfect literary murders and someone decided to act those out in real life. That’s what happens in Eight Perfect Murders. And what follows is a cat and mouse game where you don’t know who to trust and at times you even doubt your narrator. A few great mysteries are spoiled along the way, so read the books on the list first....or don’t...they are still just as great once this one is solved.
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In Peter Swanson's "Eight Perfect Murders," the central character, Malcolm Kershaw, is the manager and co-owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston.  The weather is freezing and snowy when Special Agent Gwen Mulvey contacts Malcolm and asks him about a list that he posted on his store's blog.  In the post, Kershaw listed works by such writers as Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, and James Cain, in which the perpetrators committed ingenious crimes.  Mulvey suspects that these books and a play, "Deathtrap," may have inspired a serial killer to commit murders for which he was never apprehended.  What is a "perfect" murder?  First, the killer should leave no clues behind that might identify him.  In addition, he should have no obvious motive or, barring that, a watertight alibi. It would be helpful, too, if the authorities conclude that the victim died as a result of an accident or suicide.  

Malcolm has few friends, is plagued by nightmares, and his late wife, Claire, was a troubled soul who had issues with alcohol and drugs.  In a series of intense discussions, sometimes over drinks and food, Gwen continues to grill Malcolm.  She wonders whether he has any idea of who might have emulated the villains in such classics as "The A. B. C. Murders" and "Double Indemnity." Initially, Malcolm provides little useful information. but we soon get the feeling that he is holding something back. 

As this compelling novel progresses, it becomes increasingly dark and unsettling.  Swanson suggests that traumatized individuals who do not seek professional help may end up expressing their repressed anger in twisted and destructive ways. Since the author gives ample foreshadowing of what is to come, the conclusion is more dispiriting than surprising. In this crisply written, atmospheric, and intense novel, Peter Swanson focuses on what can happen when deeply disturbed people are unable to exorcise their inner demons.
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I love the idea of referring back to classic mysteries, which makes me want to go back and read (or reread) the "eight."  The ending was actually very satisfying.
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This was a wild ride. A mystery novel about mystery books that was so well written I often forgot that I was reading a novel and not actually someone's true crime confessional. I LOVED this.

Our narrator is a middle-aged man, though looks older due to his white hair, that has been a lover of the mystery novel ever since he was a kid. He lucked out into having a great job managing a bookstore in downtown Boston, where he was also responsible for writing the store's blog. Many years ago, for the very first blog post, he wrote about eight books that had the perfect murders in them (which, I will now have to go back and read/re-read). Now, in the present, someone is using that list to commit murders that don't seem to connect, except to him. 

The narrator talks about how the trend has become to have an unreliable narrator telling the story, and indeed becomes the cliche himself. This would normally irk me, but this was written so well, that instead I was just waiting for the next incident to drop and it pulled me forward. I did not want to put this down.

I'm worried that if I keep talking I will give more clues away, so instead I encourage you, if you are a lover of mysteries, to go and pick up this great "memoir". 

Copy provided by NetGalley.
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Peter Swanson's books stick with me long after I've finished reading them. I have loved all his books and this was no exception. I do always warn people though, before recommending his book, that they are dark!

Thank you to Net Galley for the chance to read and review this ARC.
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Eight Perfect Murders is the perfect read for fans of the genre. A twist ending worthy of the grand dame herself!
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Full disclosure: I have been a huge fan of Peter Swanson since I read The Girl with a Clock for a Heart.  Every one of his books has been unlike other mystery writers -- they all have a bit of an unusual premise with twists that I sometimes can't predict (ie. an avid mystery reader's dream author).  Needless to say, I was thrilled when I read the premise for his newest book and got my hands on a copy of it. 

Eight Perfect Murders is the title of the very first blog post bookseller Malcom Kershaw penned for the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, Massachusetts.  Mal highlighted what he believed were the most unsolvable murders in the mystery genre, including Strangers on a Train and A.B.C. Murders.  However, he wrote the blog post years ago and has all but forgotten it even existed. 

One snowy day in February, an FBI agent comes into Old Devils looking for information on a series of unsolved murders.  To most, these murders seem completely random, without any connection.  But the FBI agent sees extreme similarities between Mal's list and the killings.  Her suspicions are confirmed when Mal receives a message from the killer himself, which threatens to unravels the dark secrets Mal has kept to himself.  In order to protect himself, Mal begins to investigate potential suspects himself before the killer leaves more bodies in his wake. 

Peter Swanson has certainly done it again!  First off, the overall premise of this book was unlike anything I have read before.  I loved the fact that Swanson intertwines his plot with some of the greatest mystery novels written.  His writing is so seamless, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book.  Some of the twists were predictable, but there were a couple that certainly threw me for a loop.  Overall, one of the best books of 2020.
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unday, March 22, 2020
Eight Perfect Murders to Get Your Mind Off Our Troubles 

If the name Patricia Highsmith gives you the creeps, if Agatha Christie brings out your inner sleuth, if Nero makes you think of Rex Stout, then Peter Swanson has a delicious mystery read for you. "Eight Perfect Murders" is the title of an

old blog post written by bookseller Malcolm Kershaw as a sales pitch for his favorite, impossible to solve murder mysteries. 

Now the FBI is at the door of The Old Devils, Mal's Boston bookstore, asking questions about him and that long ago essay. According to agent Gwen Mulvey, a series of unexplained murders seems to follow a pattern, one that led her to Mal's old blog post and a bad feeling about this supposed expert in crime fiction. Appealing to his vanity, Gwen entices Mal to help her with the investigation by reading over the crime scene documents and matching them to the various novels that made his perfect list. 
As Mal heads home and settles in for an evening of deep reading on the cases, we, the reader, are privy to his every thought. By the end of chapter four we know that Mal is actually familiar with one of the victims and that he feels it's likely that the perpetrator of the crimes may actually know him. His final statement before nodding off on the couch is,

 "I had to begin to protect myself." 

Hmmmm. From here on in you'd do well to take everything Mal says with a grain of salt. But wait, he's a book lover who's sharing all his passion and expertise with us. He can't be the bad guy, can he? What about the quiet, unassuming part time employee at the Old Devils, Emily Barsamian? No one knew much about her. And then there's co-owner and fading author Brian Murray who rarely comes around, spending most of his time on a stool at the bar at the Beacon Hill Hotel. Before long Mal is leading us deep into the dark web where one can barter for most any service and soon no one is who they appear to be. 

Now, I have to tell you, Swanson's book is a light, fun read with an eye to distracting oneself from the apocalyptic news cycle but it is in no way a thriller. Any self-respecting mystery reader will guess a good bit of the plot long before the advertised "final stunning conclusion." One of my pet peeves is authors who feel compelled to write over the top, outrageously exaggerated blurbs for the friends novels. They do the author a disservice actually. The reader can't help but be disappointed when the novel doesn't meet expectations. 

So let's just say, if you love the smell of bookstores, enjoy cat and mouse crime fiction, or have a thing for New England in the wintertime, then by all means pick up a copy of Swanson's latest. As I said, it's clever, it's fun, and you'll get a great reading list of true mystery masterpieces.
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***Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
This was a great mystery and what made it extra special was that it revolved around murders in books.
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Swanson's book has a unique premise - a series of murders is committed that match up to a bookseller's list of perfect murders in crime novels - though the execution begins to fail as the story moves further along. An unreliable narrator has become de rigueur for crime/thriller novels, but the particular twists in this novel seem almost meanspirited.
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I was really excited for this book because of the premise and I love Peter Swanson. However, this one fell a little flat for me. Too predictable.
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Thank you to the publisher for this ARC.   This book harkens memories of reading Agatha Christie books, such as And Then There Were None & Murder on the Orient Express and kept me reading to find out the "who did it."  It has an unreliable narrator, which I had previously felt was overdone of late, however, Swanson pulls this off without feeling trite.    The books that comprise the eight perfect murder blog are a perfect blend of the known and the lesser known classic mystery titles and will leave readers wanting to revisit or visit for the first time those titles.
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A good book for fans of classic mysteries. I was surprised by some of the twists. I read 6 of the 8 mysteries from the list before reading this, and I'm glad I did. I was also familiar with some of the other mysteries mentioned. I feel like the book maybe needs a disclaimer with a list of the books mentioned so that readers are aware of the spoilers.
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For his first blog post on his bookstore's website, bookseller Malcom Kershaw compiled a list of the eight most perfect murders in fiction. Nearly ten years later, FBI Special Agent Gwen Mulvey steps into his mystery bookstore, Old Devil's Bookstore, looking for information on a series of unsolved murders that are strikingly similar to the list of "perfect" murders he compiled all those years ago. Mal agrees to help Agent Mulvey, but the killer is out there, watching, and knows far more about Mal and what he keeps secret than the does the FBI.

Eight Perfect Murders begins with the disclaimer: "A Memoir," the first hint that all may not be what it seems.

“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 Drowner by John D. MacDonald

Part old-fashioned mystery novel, part appreciation of popular contemporary mystery tropes, part celebration of some of the best crime and mystery novels of the genre. This is a book for those who love mysteries and appreciate the thrill of the chase and the many twists and turns that arise.

Eight Perfect Murders is a puzzle, ideal for a lazy day stuck inside. It's such a quick and exciting read, you'll devour it in one sitting.
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