Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders (Malcolm Kershaw #1) by Peter Swanson


Eight Perfect Murders
Peter Swanson
Title: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Rating: 4 stars (🌟🌟🌟🌟)

Publisher: William Morrow

This is a love letter to lovers of Classic Crime & mystery fiends so right up my lane.

Narrator Malcolm Kershaw is our guide through quite the twisty tale of disparate murders that may well not be and I thought it was a very enjoyable tour. There were plenty of clues to puzzle over and there were, of course, the eight perfect mysteries that come into play (seven books and one movie). I don't know if it's better to be familiar with all the referenced works but as I'd read some of them I did enjoy how they came into play. There were even a couple works I'd not heard of that I want to read and also one book in particular that I was planning on reading. And this brings me to the one thing that I didn't like about the book (but, admittedly there's also no getting around it to tell this story).

My gripe is about spoilers for other books (I last ran into this in Loreth Anne White's In the Dark ). 😒 For the books I'd yet to read, the solutions are already known to me so it takes a lot of the thrill out of reading them (at least any time soon). I suppose it's a bit crazy to cry foul when works are widely known and/or decades-old but fine, I'll be crazy on this one. Funnily enough, it was the Tartt book that I was most put out with regard to spoilers. I have that on my TBR and now will give it a bit more time so I can let the answer recede in my mind. For anyone who hasn't read Highsmith's Strangers on a Train or especially Christie's And Then There Were None, good luck on dodging spoilers. I can't quite believe I've read two books this year that just told All The Things.

But overall, this was very enjoyable and while I figured correctly on some things, I didn't on others. Most especially at the end so I had surprise, a bit of disbelief and sheer delight when I found there will be another book. Given where Malcolm ends, how does that happen?!

I can't believe there'll be another but I'm here for it! 😍🕵️‍♀️ Recommended (if you're a reader of classic crime and mysteries, if you're not, maybe read some of those first & then enjoy this one).

Summary:  A chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: 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.

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.

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