Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Posted March 24, 2020 by Asheley in review / 1 Comment

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter SwansonEight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Published by William Morrow on March 3, 2020
Source: the publisher
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From the hugely talented author of Before She Knew Him comes 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. There is 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.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson was so much fun to read! I went into it knowing nothing about the book except that Peter Swanson wrote it, and I really think that knowing as little possible before starting it is the best way to go.

The book, in a nutshell: Old Devils Bookstore owner Malcolm Kershaw is dragged into an investigation involving several murders. Years before, he had written a blog post listing eight mysteries that contain, in his opinion, perfect unsolvable murders. It seems that someone has found his old blog post and is now committing the murders from those eight books.  Investigators not only want his expertise on the books and their murders, but they are also suspecting that may be connected in some way.

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

First of all, this is a book for classic mystery lovers. I mean the readers of Agatha Christie and the like. It really fed my love for those types of stories. The books mentioned in Malcolm’s blog post are discussed in detail and in relation to the unsolved murders. I really loved this, and I also loved all of the contemporary mystery-thriller authors’ names dropped into the narrative (Michael Connelly, for example). Seeing that Malcolm thought about and mentioned authors that I love was pure happiness to the fangirl in me. As a sidenote, I will say that the discussions about these books tell all about how the murders took place and even how the books ended. So if there are any on Malcolm’s list that you still want to read, be warned about spoilers.

This book went so fast for me. I just inhaled it. I really liked Malcolm, even though he was a little on the strange side. But I think that made him more interesting. He has so many secrets that I didn’t foresee and his story got better and more fun with the every secret that was revealed. I don’t really want to discuss anything more specific about the book because I’d for sure be giving away plot points.

The fun in this story is absolutely in the telling and watching it unfold. I loved the way that Peter Swanson structured this story: is it a novel or is it Malcolm’s memoir? Is Malcolm a reliable storyteller or not? I recommend sitting down when you have a chunk of time to read and just go to town. It’s so freaking good.


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About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson Author Photo

Peter Swanson is the author of five novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Before She Knew Him. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. He lives outside of Boston, where he is at work on his next novel.

Photo by Jim Ferguson


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


One response to “Book Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

  1. Sara Strand

    I feel like going into any of his books with the least amount of information possible is the best way to go! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, thank you for joining us on the tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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