5 reasons Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders is the one perfect thriller to read this month

Photo: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson.. Image Courtesy HarperCollins Publishers
Photo: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson.. Image Courtesy HarperCollins Publishers /

Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders is the one mystery book crime readers absolutely need to pick up this month — especially if they love unconventional storytelling.

It’s not often readers find a thriller that stands out against the thousands of others on the market, but Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders is a novel that sets itself apart — if only because it cleverly pays homage to everything that’s come before it, all while telling a story that feels original and fresh. Set in Boston, the novel follows bookstore owner Malcolm Kershaw as he finds himself dragged into an FBI murder investigation for a very peculiar reason: The murderer is using an old blog post of his as a blueprint for their crimes.

Years ago, Malcolm wrote the piece “Eight Perfect Murders” for Old Devil’s Bookshop, outlining some of the most flawless murders from thriller novels. These weren’t his favorite books by any means — just the ones where the murderer came as close as possible to plotting the “perfect murder,” one that would be impossible to solve (or even to identify as a murder at all).

When Special Agent Gwen Mulvey visits Malcolm, she informs him that someone’s been copying the murders from his list. And further investigation reveals that the killer may even be attempting to send a message to Malcolm through their actions. Why is the question readers will need to answer, along with many others that come up along the way.

Eight Perfect Murders sends readers on a thrilling ride with plenty of well-timed reveals. There are so many reasons to pick up Swanson’s latest release, but here are five that stand out the most.

The Premise

A large part of what makes Swanson’s new novel so fascinating is its premise. The concept of a serial killer basing their crimes off of a blog post of “perfect murders” puts a unique spin on the story — and the fact that the writer is also unexpectedly wrapped up in the situation only makes the whole thing more intriguing.

Every reader knows that a solid premise is a promising way to sell your novel, and Eight Perfect Murders uses it well. From the moment Agent Mulvey arrives at Old Devil’s Bookshop, it’s hard not to be hooked. And given that all the crimes are taken from equally as compelling stories, they themselves will grab readers’ attention — especially if those readers haven’t heard of some of the books on Malcolm’s list.

The Narration

The narrator of Eight Perfect Murders is anything but trustworthy, and while unreliable narrators are commonplace in crime fiction, the way Swanson unravels Malcolm’s involvement in the story is skillful and impressive. Readers only get bits and pieces of the truth at a time, and it will keep them on their toes — which, of course, will also keep them flipping the pages.

The fact that Malcolm seems to be speaking directly to the reader throughout the book also adds an interesting touch. Breaking the fourth wall can add layers to a story, and in this case, it most certainly does. Just wait until you get to the ending!

It’s Bookish

If you’re someone who loves reading books about books, Eight Perfect Murders is just the story for you. (Unless you’re looking for a happy bookish tale, in which case … move along.)

Between the murders being taken straight from a list of classic crime novels and the narrator being the owner of a bookstore, Eight Perfect Murders gives readers regular doses of literary references to relish in. On top of that, the novel has a bookish atmosphere, whether it’s because its main character is constantly in and out of Old Devil’s or because it’s set in Boston, one of the biggest literary hubs in the U.S.

The Attention to Detail

Speaking of small details, Swanson is great at sprinkling those throughout the story, giving those reading Eight Perfect Murders a reason to pay close and careful attention. On more than one occasion, Malcolm will let a small, seemingly insignificant detail slip, only for that piece of information to play a bigger role in a future reveal.

It’s subtle clues like this that make reading well-written thrillers so much fun. The reader constantly feels like they could solve Malcolm’s mystery in Eight Perfect Murders if they just paid a little more attention. Unfortunately…

It Keeps You Guessing

It’s a thriller’s job to keep readers in suspense, but you’d be surprised just how often murder mysteries aren’t all that suspenseful. Luckily, Eight Perfect Murders is the sort of book that will keep readers guessing, even if they do pick up on Swanson’s tiny hints scattered throughout the book.

Anyone searching for a novel that will genuinely keep them guessing until its final pages should make a point of adding this one to their TBR. The surprises don’t stop coming … even after you’ve solved the question of who the murderer is.

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Eight Perfect Murders is currently available in print, as well as in e-book and audiobook formats.