Hi! It’s time for another review. I’ve been reading a lot this year, so those will be frequent on here, I think.

  • Release date: March 3, 2020
  • Age demographic: Adult
  • Genre: Thriller


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.

My thoughts

I’m trying to figure out where I stand on Peter Swanson. I think by now I’ve read half of his books, and I am still interested in the remaining ones – he’s the kind of a thriller author I think I’ll pick everything from – but he’s definitely not a favourite.

Rules for Perfect Murders (or Eight Perfect Murders in the US) was a different one from him, I think. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it and I can’t really pin point why exactly.

First of all, the idea for the book was fantastic. The premise is… a mystery/thriller/horror book seller/owner writes a blog post outlining the eight perfect murders in literature. Years later, he’s approached by an FBI agent wanting to ask him about said blog post, because it seems to her someone is trying to commit all the murders mentioned on the list. I was pretty hooked on the idea. Sadly, I’ve read none of the books mentioned, although The Secret History has been on my shelves for forever, so I think I couldn’t quite appreciate the references. The crimes are outlined in the book, by no means is the author expecting the reader to know what they are, but the major part of the book focuses on the protagonist rereading them to refresh his memory and help the investigation.

The book took turns I definitely didn’t expect it to take. It was interesting and unpredictable all the way through, and I enjoyed that, but what was missing for me was the thrill and the urgency of most Swanson’s books. I wasn’t at the edge of my seat, but also I was never bored, which I guess why this sits comfortably in the middle at 3 stars.

The ending did kind of make me ponder, though. The way the story wraps up makes me believe like it’s left ambiguous on purpose. The main character himself discourages from the idea (I’m being vague on purpose because spoilers), but it still made me wonder…

Rating and recommendations

For fans of:

Books about books, good twists, psychological thrillers

I’d love to know if you’ve read this one and your thoughts on it.

Thanks for reading.

Talk soon!

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