Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Fiction Review: Eight Perfect Murders

Although I devoted most of November to nonfiction, my husband and I had a long drive (8 hours each way) to Buffalo and back for a family funeral. It's been years since we've taken a long road trip together, so I have a huge backlog of audiobooks (mostly suspense, mysteries, and thrillers) that I've been saving for he and I to share in the car. For this trip, I chose one of the top books on my audio TBR, Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. I previously read Swanson's All the Beautiful Lies and Before She Knew Him (reviewed for Shelf Awareness). I even got to meet the author in person at Booktopia 2018, a unique weekend-long book event I attend in Vermont each year it is held. Peter Swanson is known for his super-twisty thrillers, and Eight Perfect Murders was no exception, all wrapped up in a unique and intriguing premise.

Malcolm, a quiet bookstore owner, is visited by FBI Special Agent Mulvey at his store in Boston. She is beginning to suspect there is an unusual serial killer at work in the region and wants Malcolm's help. Years earlier, Malcolm published a list of “Eight Perfect Murders” on the store’s blog, recounting eight different classic murder mysteries that might be considered unsolvable if they happened in real life. Now, Agent Mulvey thinks someone is using his list to actually commit murders. Because the unsolved cases have nothing in common (other than Malcolm's list) and each is based on an entirely different approach, Agent Mulvey is on her own; no other law enforcement officials think her idea has merit. Besides, each murder so far has occurred in completely different places, even different states, so individual police investigations haven't made the connection. Intrigued by the concept and his love of mysteries, Malcolm agrees to work with her and help her understand more about each of the murder mysteries he wrote about. But he also has secrets of his own he is trying to protect, so he needs to be cautious. As the two dig deeper and deeper into the investigation, the tension and danger increase for both of them.

As with all of Swanson's novels, this one is full of surprises and twists, with plenty of red herrings and dead ends to keep you guessing. Malcolm is the narrator, so he admits from the start that there are things in his past he doesn't want the agent to know about, but you don't know exactly what. The premise here is entirely original and very compelling, so this was the perfect choice for a long drive. A thriller plot that is centered around books, a bookstore, and a blog post? Sign me up! We both enjoyed it very much (and were surprised by the ending), and it was excellent on audio. Narrator Graham Halstead does a great job of inhabiting Malcolm's character. Our only complaint was that in telling the story, it was necessary to explain what happened in each of the books on Malcolm's list (plus a ninth that is mentioned), so nine good mysteries were spoiled for us! They are all classic or very well-known mysteries, though I'd only read two of the nine and my husband hadn't read any of them yet. That issue aside, we both thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in this dark and twisty mystery-thriller that made the miles fly by! 

304 pages, William Morrow

Harper Audio

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, from an early scene where Malcolm and Agent Mulveny first meet, and/or download it from Audible.


You can buy the book through Bookshop.org, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!



Or you can order Eight Perfect Murders from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I have this one on my Christmas list so hope it shows up under the tree.

  2. This one is still on my TBR, but I have his next release Nine Lives on my review schedule for next year.

    1. Oooh, another one coming soon! That's good news!