About the Book
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.
A murder mystery inspired by other classics in the genre – it is an intelligently written book, that conjures up images of film noir as you are reading it. Everything about this book is unexpected. From page 1, you never know what is going to happen. It’s like an onion that you have to peel back layer by layer until you reach the very end of the book. The pace is slow and frantic at the same time. It builds chapter after chapter as you learn more about Mal and the murders that he seemingly has become entangled in.
Every character in this book serves a purpose. No one is extraneous, not even the cat, Nero. This is a book about nuances and character. Peter Swanson either loves the thriller genre or he has done extensive research. Book by book, murder by murder, you have an understanding of why each classic thriller selected was the perfect crime. It is a true homage to classic thrillers, but modern enough to keep the reader interested and engaged.
The book is hard to put down, and when it ends you will wish that you had read it slowly, enjoying every moment. That won’t happen, because, as in every “Who Done It”, you will need to know how it ends. Eight Perfect Murders will have you longing to read every book on Mal’s list, but maybe, just maybe you shouldn’t.
Favourite Line From the Book
This is one of the most chilling lines in the book. It is about the book “Malice Aforethought”, but it is perfect in this mystery.
“He is infected forever by the act of killing.”
This exchange gets an honorary mention for being perfect for this book:
“…Doesn’t exactly sound like a murderer.”
“Depends on the type of book that you like to read.”