Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

When I was a freshman in high school, I was really struggling to find suitable reading material. While I loved the Harry Potter series, I was less enthusiastic about other fantasy options. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings just wasn't for me. At that point, I really stopped reading outside of school assignments. Then one day my mom brought be a tattered paperback copy of James Patterson's Mary Mary. I devoured that book and many of his other Alex Cross novels. Enthusiastic about the genre, I quickly latched onto John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell, John Sandford, etc. I was hooked!

If you follow my reviews, you no doubt see that I continue to be a huge fan of the mystery/thriller genre to this day. One author who has recently joined the ranks of must-read authors for me is Peter Swanson. His standalone thrillers consistently entertain each year. His most recent release serves as an homage to the kind of classic mysteries that have inspired countless readers to be sucked into the mystique of the genre. I graciously accepted a copy of Eight Perfect Murders from his publisher, and eagerly dove in.

Bookseller Malcolm Kershaw is surprised when an FBI agent pays a visit to his shop. It appears as if a serial killer is using famous mystery novels to inform his kills. The murders all happen to follow the writing of the likes of Highsmith, Tart, Christie, etc, but that doesn't explain why the FBI wants to talk to Malcolm. It turns out that he wrote a blog post years ago that listed the eight perfect murders in mystery fiction. The killer is systematically checking off Malcolm's list with each new crime. As the unwilling expert of the matter, Malcolm is invited to join in the investigation. Along the way, he'll try to find out how this murderer latched onto his list and try to hold tight a few secrets of his own.

It seems like clockwork each year that a new Peter Swanson novel drops, full of thrills, a strong hook, empathetic characters, and plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing. Eight Perfect Murders is no exception. Bibliophiles and casual readers alike should find something to latch onto in this one. If you are familiar with the eight novels employed by Swanson to inspire his crimes, you'll revel in seeing the way they are used here. If you're less familiar, you'll have eight new novels to add to your reading list. Be warned, though, that the crux of this novel lies in revealing the means of the criminal in those classics. If you're wanting to read those with fresh eyes, you may want to do that before embarking on this journey. Eight Perfect Murders sees Peter Swanson harken back to the classic stories that this genre was built on. While it doesn't add much to the contemporary genre in the same way some of his others have, it still serves as a great escape into an engaging and twisty read. In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, it was great to settle in to comfort and familiarity of a classic whodunnit.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2020, 12)

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26 Responses to “Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson”

  1. That is a very cool concept. I love a good copycat murder, and to borrow for literary greats just makes it more fun. I do agree, that I would be even more invested in the story if I was familiar with the 8 murder mystery books, but it sounds like the story would still be enjoyable without the prior knowledge.

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    1. You can enjoy it either way, but the more context the better I think.

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  2. Sometimes even if a story doesn't necessarily bring anything particularly new or unique, it's great to just sink into a really good/entertaining story. Sounds like Swanson delivered just that.

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  3. I LOVE this idea! I put in a library hold, am #20 on 2 copies.

    I loved Grisham for a long time. The Client and A Time to Kill remain my favorites, and their movies were so well-done also. I also read them when I was like, in 6th or 7th grade. Now that I think about it, all the Grisham I read was when I was in middle school, interesting. I feel like 90s Grisham is the best Grisham.

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    1. I loved the early Grisham novels. They have something that his more recent ones just never capture for me.

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    2. That's how I feel! I DEVOURED those books, which again is weird looking back because I was in middle school. But I did. I tried reading some of his later stuff and it just wasn't the same. I think The Rainmaker is the last one I read. I really loved The Chamber too. I think The Partner was the last one I read of those 90s books.

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    3. I did read The Racketeer a few years ago, and that one had some of the same magic.

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    4. Good to know. Some of those comfort authors are helpful in times like this, even though I am not big on re-reading unless it is a book I LOVE LOVE LOVE. I might have to look into that one.

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    5. Now I'm kind of in the mood to try another one of his books!

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  4. I read a lot of Patricia Cornwall, but it's been a long time. I liked her mysteries, but to be honest the interpersonal relationships were trying at times. I've read almost all of Agatha Christie's mysteries, some more than a few times, but it's been a long time so I'm sure I'd be lost on the references. I love the idea of this story. You ever see Copycat with Sigorney Weaver? Sort of reminds me of the premise. One of my favorite movies, but I do wish I could re-write one part of it. In regards to the romance, of course! I'm running on with my comment, lol, sorry! :)

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    1. That is the same gripe I've always had with the Cornwell novels. Her characters were never very likable, but she sure knows how to write a mystery.

      I've never seen Copycat, but it is going on my quarantine watch list!

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  5. This one has been getting such great reviews, and this is next for me. Like yours, the others have made me so excited for it!

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    1. I didn't love it in the same way I did some of his others, but I still really enjoyed reading it. I can't wait to read your review!

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  6. I have not read Peter Swanson yet but I do love a good mystery thriller. I have had this book on my radar for a while and I just noticed that my library does have a copy so I think I am going to but my name on the list. I am so glad you enjoyed this one.

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    1. I've really enjoyed his novels. They are standalone books, so you can start with any of them!

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  7. I love the genre as well and I confess that I didn't know about this one but it looks good.

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  8. I can't wait to read this one!!!

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  9. I cut my teeth on John Grishams too though I diverted into historical mysteries for a few decades.

    Oh how fun that the murders are centered around books. I think I'd get into this one since I've read several Golden Age of Mystery authors. :)

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    1. It sounds like a lot of us were early Grisham fans. I may need to pick up one of his books soon.

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  10. Agreed, this proved to be a wonderful distraction and as a book lover and mystery reader I loved the book titles and use of them in this story.

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  11. "As the unwilling expert of the matter, Malcolm is invited to join in the investigation."

    This sounds like a great read, especially for mystery fans who are familiar with the works used in this novel.

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    1. It was a really fun throwback to classic mystery novels!

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