Rules for Perfect Murders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

I had been fully prepared to adore this book - a crime fiction book set in a bookstore that sells other crime fiction books. What's not to love? Unfortunately, quite a bit for me. 

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad read, In fact, on the whole I enjoyed it; it whiled away a few hours and didn't take too long to finish, and I also got recommendations for other books I now want to pick up.

It just didn't work for me, however. I felt a lot of it was obvious, the narrator was obviously unreliable and there were only a few ways this could have gone. The examples of murders that were tried to make fit to the list of crime books on the narrator's blog was laughable - you could make any crime fit if you were looking for reasons. It was way too farfetched and that's where it lost me.

I've heard great things about Swanson's other books so I will probably look into these at some point, but I wouldn't recommend this one as a place to start.
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Rules for Perfect Murders, or AKA Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson is a psychological thriller.

First, let me thank both Edelweiss and NetGalley, the publisher William Morrow, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)

Malcolm (Mal) Kershaw is a part owner of the Old Devils bookstore.  A friend put up the money, and Mal runs the store, with two employees, and a cat named Nero who has made this bookstore his home.

When FBI agent Gwen Mulvey starts asking Mal questions about a list entitled "Eight Perfect Murders" which he had written for the company blog many years ago, he is confused.  Gwen seems to think that someone out there is re-creating the murders from those books.  As evidence continues to build, it quickly becomes evident that this murderer knows Mal quite well.

For his own protection, Mal is going to try and figure out who the murderer is, before Mal himself is arrested for the murders, or the killer decides to come after him.

My Opinions:  

Wonderful book.  Might have something to do with the fact that a number of other mystery books and authors as well as a synopsis of each were presented as part of this story.  Yes, the synopsis of each book that was mentioned contained spoilers, but most of the books are old, and even those I have read, I would re-read.  The going on my TBR pile.

Bottom line, Peter Swanson has become one of my favorite authors.  I love his imagination, his characters, his twists. Mal was a great character,  a little sad, a little lost, a little paranoid, a little untrustworthy, but strong and likable.  There were a lot of characters who could have been the killer, but in the end, it was perfect.  I love being surprised by the identity of the perpetrator, and I was definitely stunned on this one.

Overall, I really loved this book.  It was a great mystery/thriller.  I am definitely recommending this one!
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Peter Swanson created a brilliant novel for all crime fiction lovers in mind. Books about books are one of my favourite to read so I was really looking forward to dig into this one. 

The plot was brilliant: a bookseller Malcolm has been dragged into FBI investigation of the series of murders believed to be linked to his blog post about some classic mystery novels and their “perfect” murders. But Mal has got his own secret past. 

The author’s writing is delightful: easy to follow and grabbing your attention from the first page. I loved the reference to some famous mystery murders books and I will definitely be adding some of them onto my tbr pile. I really enjoyed the unreliable narrator and was eager to finally discover what he is hiding. The book is filled with twists and unpredictable turns and the ending was very satisfying to me. 

My only complaint is that if you have not read any of the mentioned books, Rules For Perfect Murders is a massive spoiler. I wished the author dealt with this in a different way. 

It was a quick, fast paced read and the fans of Peter Swanson won’t be disappointed.
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This story was unexpected. Reading the blurb I understood it was a sort of classic whodunnit but it was more complex and completely out of my comfort zone.
I assume this misunderstanding was due to the fact it was the first book I read by this author.
That said it was an enthralling and brilliant read that kept me hooked and I read it in one afternoon.
The MC is unreliable but I thought he was always damaged and full of grief.
There's a mystery and there's a love story, there's a sweet cat and there's a fascinating bookstore.
And a great story that mixes them all and makes you wonder if what you're reading is the truth or just an edited version of the truth.
I loved it and I will surely read other books by this author.
It was brilliant and I strongly recommend it.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I stumbled across Peter Swanson's books thanks to my friend Julie and I haven't looked back since, a great thriller / crime writer, so I was delighted to receive a free digital copy of his new book in exchange for an honest review.

Eight perfect murders (also it appears to be known as Rules for perfect murders) is a classic Swanson story.  The story opens on a seemingly benign setting, Mal is a bookshop owner that specialises in mystery books and along with the book shop cat Nero and his two younger employees Emily and Brandon seems to be rubbing alongside life ok.

Until one day Mal receives a visit from an FBI agent investigating a series of suspicious deaths in the region which she thinks connects back to one of the bookshop blogs Mal wrote years earlier....

From here you are taken on a delicious whodunnit adventure (or I suppose in this case whodunwhat), plenty of rich characters will keep you guessing and I changed my mind two or three times during the course of the novel, even suspecting innocent people! 

I love the fresh individual aspects Peter has woven into this novel, the lovely story about how Nero came to the bookshop cat, the actual list of the eight stories that would make Mal's perfect murder list - a lovely touch for bookaholics like me.

This is another great crime thriller which had me reading pages long after I should have been asleep.
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Malcolm Kershaw - bookstore worker, widow and suspect in a series of murders. At least that’s what we’re led to believe initially.
Malcolm narrates his story, and it’s clear we’re not being told everything. The question is, what’s being hidden and why? When an FBI agent asks to speak with Mal in connection to a series of murders we’re immediately intrigued. There seems to be a link between a number of deaths and a blog post written some years ago by Mal called Eight Perfect Murders. Someone appears to be using the list to carry out their own killing spree.
While the initial idea seems rather far-fetched, we slowly learn further details that indicates there is indeed a link. We also get told by Mal himself that he’s hiding things. The details he does give us mean we have developed a sense of trust and I certainly didn’t want to think badly of him.
As the story develops little details are revealed that start to affect the way we regard Mal. His actions become increasingly strange, and it’s evident that there’s twists coming...but it’s all about working out why and when this info is given.
It’s hard to say more without inadvertently revealing details that are crucial to the book’s success. While I’d not read all the books mentioned on the list, the literary link was appealing and Mal - though evidently not quite the good guy I had him pegged as initially - has a rather mercurial charm. By the notional end I felt rather disappointed that things were going to go that way.
A huge thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this in exchange for my thoughts.
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*I would like to thank Peter Swanson, Faber and Faber and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
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.
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Our narrator Malcolm is an avid lover of books, particularly murder mysteries, and owns an independent book store in Boston. One day, an FBI agent visits him to tell him she thinks a series of seemingly unrelated murders may actually be related...and they have in common an old blog post he wrote, titled Eight Perfect Murders. From there Malcolm begins to investigate to solve who is committing them, and are they also after him?

What a plot line! Murder mysteries, and especially some of the ones mentioned here have been my favourites for so long...Agatha Christie is mentioned often as well as several others that I’ve now added to my TBR list! 

Now for the book itself. I found it difficult to follow at times...too many characters interlaced throughout. There’s Malcolm’s late wife, the FBI agent herself, a friend and co-owner of the book shop, a random professor, a teacher from long ago, a cop friend, co-workers at the book shop, an old customer who turned up dead...the list goes on, and unfortunately so does the book. I normally love all of Swanson’s thrillers. I rip through them at breakneck speed. This one however was a bit slower. For one, there was very little suspense. The murders, for the most part, had already happened. The other issue I had was just the most minutiae...”I woke up, put on my robe, got a coffee filter, put in the coffee, poured the water and turned on the coffee maker. I then poured my coffee and a splash of milk.” This is an exaggeration of course but much of the book felt like...why are you telling me this? It’s almost like he had a word count to fulfill. 

All that being said, the plot and tidbits mixed in made for an interesting read, especially for mystery lovers. I would still recommend it to others, but don’t expect it to be your favourite Swanson thriller, or much of a thriller at all.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of the ARC  in exchange for my honest review
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Rules For Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson 
This book didn't do it for me unfortunately.  I have read some great reviews about it, but for me it never really got going. I finished the book, but had to push on through with it.
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I love Swanson's books, he's one of my favorite thriller authors. I was eagerly waiting for this new one and I enjoyed many aspects of it.
First of all, I need to tell you that this book spoils the plot twists of many well known mystery books because it's based on the crimes in these books. So, if you want to read Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, ABC Murders, The Murder of Roger Acroyd, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, then this book will be tricky. You will hear all the plot twists that'll spoil all these very good books. So, that's something to decide for you :)

The main character is the owner of a book store that's a specialist in selling mystery/crime books. So, it automatically makes this a book lover's gem. The mystery is related to the perfect murders in famous crime novels from Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith and many other famous crime authors. So, if you like these authors, it's another plus.
The pace doesn't read like your normal thriller, so expect a much slower, mystery type of book. it's very much based on this book store owner and his story. Swanson's writing is really absorbing and sophisticated, which I love.

So, with all these aspects, I really enjoyed my reading experience. However, there are a few things that brought my enjoyment down especially through the end. There are no spoilers, but these type of books are tricky anyway, so if you don't want to hear anything, please skip this next part:

1.There are not many characters, or development to do chasing for the reader. So, it becomes a book where we're told the whole story. It wasn't so possible to figure it out.
2. I wasn't convinced with the motives of one of the characters at all, and I think that part was really a quick wrap up.
3.It was quite repetitive at times with the stories of these books and how murders took place in them.

So, overall, I did enjoy my time reading this book very much. However, I wasn't 100% satisfied with how things were wrapped up. I did appreciate some of the twists a lot, they were clever. But, some motives didn't add up for me.
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Tnis was an excellent murder mystery.   For me this book started off quite slow but things got going after a bit and I loved it.
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Malcolm runs a mystery bookshop and an old blog post gets him drawn into a series of murders. They appear to be following the pattern of the best fiction murders  from his blog. Can the truth be discovered? 

This was a really interesting read.. I love a book about books. Plus all the references to murder mysteries was fascinating especially as I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan which features prominently.  The plot builds slowly and steadily with a clever if slightly predictable twist. I like that the whole story was told from just his view in everything. I cant say I warmed to the main character but it made the story much more interesting.  A great read.
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I found this book as bizarre, flawed and implausible as the characters within but utterly brilliant. I was hooked just from reading the premise and loved the way it unfolded. Because it featured some of my favourite classic crime stories I felt like I was getting nine books in one. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting them and was left feeling inspired me to buy the ones I hadn’t. I wasn’t convinced about all aspects of the plot but the writing style and intriguing main character kept me reading. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves classic quirky crime stories.
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EIGHT PERFECT MURDERS aka RULES FOR PERFECT MURDERS is the first psychological suspense thriller in the Malcolm Kershaw Series by Peter Swanson published in 2020. This is 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.

Malcolm Kershaw
1. Eight Perfect Murders (2020)
aka Rules for Perfect Murders

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart (2014)
The Kind Worth Killing (2015)
Her Every Fear (2017)
All the Beautiful Lies (2018)
Before She Knew Him (2019)

Many years ago, bookseller and mystery lover Malcolm Kershaw assembled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”, chosen from among the best of the best. 

If you want to get away with murder, play by the rules. 

This list was a series of unsolved murders with one thing in common: each of the deaths resembles a crime in classic mystery novels.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookshop in Boston, when FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey, comes knocking on his door looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look similar to the killings on Mal’s 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—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.

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

This was a very different book to read, slow-burning with tension building slowly, but smart in its delivery. The story is relayed in the first person, by the storyteller, Mal, the owner of a bookshop who specializes in mysteries. There are many layers to this novel, that are slowly peeled back to reveal the truth. I loved the characters. This novel provided me with a list of books that I have not read, and now I am intrigued to do so. I really enjoyed this read.

Such a clever storyline…and one that will not be forgotten easily…

Many thanks to the author and Faber & Faber for granting my wish via NetGalley, providing me with a digital copy of the novel.
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This story had a lot of things going for it, I don't personally read thrillers that much or any murder mystery story with the FBI involved, I prefer more cosy murder mysteries. But the idea of the murders replicating famous murders from books hooked me in.

This book is very trigger heavy with mentions of drugs, sexual abuse and death and I am fortunate enough to not be triggered by those elements but this book even had myself feeling uncomfortable so if you are affected by those things I would be cautious.

I personally wanted more action, I wanted to see the main protagonist do more. Quite a lot of stuff just happens to him in this story. A person tells him information or a quick google search and he is ok. Nearer to the end of the story about the 75% mark we see him finally get up and do some investigating. I just wanted him to do more in the story.

That being said I really liked his character. I liked watching his character slowly unfold in the story and what you think you know about him isn't entirely true.

There is not much I can say about this book. I enjoyed it and watching the pattern unfold but I wasn't loving this story. Maybe it was the heavy mention of the triggers, maybe it was the fact that our protagonist didn't do much until the 3/4 mark or maybe it was a great idea, ok execution. I am still not sure. Because of these confusing feelings, I am going middle on the road for this one.
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I’m a huge fan of Peter Swanson’s writing! His books always draw me in right from the start. It wasn’t on the same level as The Kind Worth Killing (my fav) but I still enjoyed this one very much. It kept me intrigued until the very end and I’m a sucker for books about books! Loved it. 
Thank you to the publisher and @netgalley for providing a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Bookshop owner.Malcolm Kershaw is visited by FBI agent Gwen Mulvey, who is investigating a series of murders that appear to be linked to a list of perfect literary murders that Malcolm posted on his blog. As the book progresses, Malcolm’s own involvement in the cases comes into question. Is he hiding a dark secret, and will Gwen discover what it is?

Rules for Perfect Murders is badged as a memoir, with the usual ‘names have been changed to protect the innocent’ disclaimer at the beginning. I found it difficult to tell if this was genuine, or just a marketing ploy, but either way, I found the book very readable. Little touches, the varying stories about Nero the store cat, for instance, helped the confessional feel of the story. At times slightly fantastical, which is why I struggled with the concept of it being a genuine true story, it was well written nonetheless.

I haven’t read any of Peter’s other books, as yet, but will certainly add him to my list of authors to look out for!
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Peter Swanson's latest is his best yet! I went into this book with high expectations, and yet it turned out to be even better than I expected. Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year so far.
The premise was what attracted me the most about the book, and it didn't disappoint. The main character, Malcolm, is contacted by an FBI agent because a killer is replicating famous murders in books, taking inspiration from a list Mal wrote about "eight perfect murders in fiction". Be aware that the story spoils the twists of these books, so if you are interested in them it might be better to read them before this one (I tried to, and managed to read about half of them, but after a while I just couldn't wait to start Swanson's book!). 
Such a premise, I think, is enough to draw mystery fans in. Another bonus is the fact that Mal owns a bookshop dedicated to mystery books, and that he cites many other mysteries he loves and which I gladly added to my never ending TBR pile (no regrets).
As for the story itself, the plot is engaging from page one, and it doesn't let you go. I just couldn't put the book down, I finished it in two sittings. There were lots of twists and turns and things were revealed at just the right times. I also loved Mal's characterization. Finally, the identity of the killer was also a surprise for me, which is always nice. 
A must read for all mystery fans. You will be entertained from start to finish and find some great new recommendations!
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I have never read a Peter Swanson book before and honestly, I was a tad disappointed. I thought the premise was very clever – a killer targeting people based on a blog he found on the internet about ‘perfect’ literary murders.
However I thought the whole read was very unrealistic, the FBI involvement seemed ridiculously ingenuine and the whole feel of the book felt quite dishonest, although that could quite possible be the intention of the writer as one of the main features of the book is that the main character and narrator is very unreliable. 
Overall it was a quick read with clever premise but ultimately fell flat for me.
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Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Malcolm Kershaw runs The Old Devil’s Bookstore in Boston, the perfect place to find a first edition of a classic murder mystery. Years before, Kershaw wrote a blog post called ‘Eight Perfect Murders’, which listed some of the most infamous murders in crime fiction, and it is this list that now brings FBI Special Agent Gwen Mulvey to his door one snowy winter’s day. Mulvey is investigating a series of deaths, which to most would appear completely unrelated and perhaps not all even suspicious, except if one happened to be a crime fiction fan and had read Kershaw’s list. The deaths appear to follow a pattern and that pattern is the list. Mulvey needs Kershaw to help her find a murderer, someone who may well know Kershaw and is now sending him a message. To solve this crime, and to prevent other murders, Mulvey and Kershaw must think like some of the greatest writers of crime fiction.

Rules for Perfect Murders has the most fantastic premise and I read it the moment I could. I adored the two other Peter Swanson novels I’ve read, The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear and so I knew that if there was any author who could deliver on such a good premise it would be this one. I was right! Rules for Perfect Murders is a completely addictive, clever and ridiculously twisty tale of murder and mystery, which also manages to have fun playing homage to some much loved novels by Agatha Christie, Donna Tartt and Patricia Highsmith, among others.

Peter Swanson plays some clever games with the genre and its popular devices, such as the unreliable narrator and the snowy setting. It is Mal Kershaw who tells the story to us and it is fascinating watching out for red herrings or genuine clues. This is one of those books that might well reward a second reading. But we also get to know Gwen Mulvey and she is equally interesting and intriguing. The author might be playing games with the genre, but he is also playing them with his characters and with us. The book is so pleasing in more ways than I can say.

It is worth mentioning, I think, that the nature of the story means that it is full of spoilers for some classic novels and so you might want to bear that in mind when you read it. I’d read the books in question and so I enjoyed tracing their clues through the book and I think it’s possible that the book works most well for fans of classic crime fiction. But, even if you’ve never read any of the books referred to here, you would still enjoy Rules for Perfect Murders. I absolutely loved the bookshop setting and, as someone who loves Boston, the location is also a big draw.

Rules for Perfect Murders is a clever and very well written murder mystery and brain teaser that would appeal to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, bookshops and wintry tales of murder. It’s a fast read and it is an entirely satisfying and rewarding one, successful on so many different levels. I cannot wait to read more books by Peter Swanson.

Other review
Her Every Fear
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