Eight Perfect Murders By Peter Swanson-Review
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2020
Updated- Because- Eight Perfect Murders hit this year’s Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2020: Mystery/Thrillers
Looking back, my reviews have really changed. But this one still hits the nail on the head, despite the lack of structure. The metaphor, here, is a great one. So before the actual review of Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders, I set it up with an analogy to Avengers: Endgame, which of course shocks no one. But I didn’t really mention it. So I’m sure that caused some confusion. Let me fix that now that Peter Swanson’s (by the way, his next book, Every Vow You Break comes out early next year– PHEW), Eight Perfect Murders has joined Elsa Hart’s Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne on the Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2020: Mystery/Thrillers!
Eight Perfect Murders is an incredibly unique mystery that reads like a memoir, is definitely not an unreliable narrator (he tells you upfront that he has more to do with this than he lets on at first), and wraps it all up in a nod to all things bookish people love and bookish people themselves. That brings me to the EndGame reference. And this is especially important because Eight Perfect Murders is one of those incredibly hard books to review- SPOILERS. Aye.
Eight Perfect Murders And EndGame
Marvel did a brilliant job in EndGame. Well, the more you had invested in the ride that was Marvel since Iron Man 1, the more you got out of EndGame. It was, at its core, a love letter to Avenger fans. And while yes, I admit to being able to draw an Avenger reference to just about anything at this point.
The parallel truly, if you did take that Avenger ride, smacks you in the face, in a fantastic ride. Beyond the amazing thriller at the core. Eight Perfect Murders accomplishes a truly beautiful thing for anyone that considers themselves bookish, or apart of the bookish community, at large. It recognizes, acknowledges, and tips its hat at you in some way, shape or form.
While I would love to go through them all in stunning detail. And anyone who has been around my site long enough knows that I completely could. There is an epic story to get to, here (not that there that much to talk about… because, spoilers). I will indulge myself and you with a shallow list. I say shallow because the depths in which Swanson discusses these different parts and interweaves them throughout the story is absolutely incredible. At times, some of them become themes that made me reflect on the impact of different genres, sub-genres, and overall types of stories might be having. Are stories me, my dark soul, and my shattered heart are drawn to pushing it further? And well…
To Bookish Things And People I’ve Loved Before
Yes- I took notes while I was reading- I don’t think I mentioned that, that is where this list came from. I was so enthralled with how Peter Swanson connected the things all of us in the bookish community can relate to, that I started keeping track. It is this, maybe, that makes Eight Perfect Murders such a perfect inclusion on the Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2020.
- Bookstores and Booksellers
- The many genres – or even those that just stick to the one genre of their life
- Blogs- Yes, Mr. Swanson- You had me at “Indispensable”
- Nostalgia- Through the good times, bad times, and all of them in between- Books.
- The entirety of the above- the bookish community- the ability to talk about books, share books, recommend books, lose our minds together, disagree about them and scream, get lost in books- finish it look up and yell in public just to realize no one knows what you are yelling about but you- or go online and yell at a bunch of others. YES! ALL OF US!
- ALL THE EDITIONS OF BOOKS– Yep. For all the first editions of whatever books are in Eight Perfect Murders? I sat there thinking- hell one day– I’ll be like- I have what editions signed, unsigned and otherwise of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom???!
A Memoir FFS
Ok. Look. Eight Perfect Murders is my first book by Peter Swanson. So maybe this is just a me thing. And fine then. Just stop reading now. I won’t be offended. BUT. Here’s the thing. THE WHOLE THING IS WRITTEN AS A MEMOIR. A DAMN MEMOIR.
Apparently, Swanson didn’t think it was enough (IT WAS ENOUGH). The story he wrote, I mean. He didn’t think it was gonna keep people screaming WHAT THE MESS (OH YES IT WILL) with a first-person narrative or multiple points of view (OH and he gets to that when he reminisces on bookish things TOO). NOPE. This whole hot damn- keep you up till the sun comes up, and you are yelling so loud the neighbor comes up, banging on your door because he thinks YOU ARE THE ONE BEING KILLED- (OH YES HE WILL) is wrapped up in a fictional memoir. And what does that do? Oh. I’m so glad you asked. Here is what that does. Well. Without spoilers.
First, it gives you many, many moments like the one in the featured image. I’ll quote it again because it was the least spoilery quote I could come up with from the entirety of Eight Perfect Murders.
If these words are ever read, then I am sure that the reader might have already guessed that I have more to do with these crimes than I’ve been letting on. It’s not as though there haven’t been clues.
And that is NOTHING. So. Yeah. The memoir angle is a stroke of genius and it is bile rising, heart racing and a straight out kick in the ass.
Here’s What I Can Say
Malcolm Kershaw is a HOT WRECK. No seriously. Your main character owns Old Devils Bookstore and years ago he wrote, well like a Top Ten Tuesday (I tagged one of my favorite ones there- not one I think anyone could go ripping murders off of, but hey, it is Kaz Brekker- so why not?), but he built a list of the most perfect murders he’d come across in the mystery books he’d read. Someone who has read his post decides to start picking them off the page and acting them out in real life. WHOOPS.
Here’s the point where, I, your most amusing neurotic, starts thinking through all my posts and thinking – CRAP! <—- Yes. Why, yes. Yes, I did.
Anyhow, his personal life isn’t kicking too well, either. Five years previously his wife, Claire had died. And he’d been pretty much a loner ever since. Except, of course, he has secrets. Everyone has secrets. So when the FBI comes knocking, Mal starts scrambling. Of course, it all goes downhill from there.
A Boston Winter Without A Clue
Set in the winter besieged Boston- bonus points because I’ve only been to Boston a couple of times and hell- I could picture it as if I lived there. Eight Perfect Murders plays out brilliantly. Every time I even thought I had something figured out? HELL, I HAD NO CLUE. And the thing is? It wasn’t because Peter Swanson had laid out some non-sensical twist in there. UH-UH.
What I thought was going to happen? It completely made sense. The boomerang Swanson threw at me? As he slowly laid it out? As my eyes grew wider and wider and I slowly realized it? OH hell. That made just as much, if not more sense as I thought… HOW DID I NOT EVEN SEE THAT COMING? Or at least, how could I have been so dead set on MY IDEA and not even think THIS was a possibility? Geeze.
And good luck trying to separate the good guys from the bad guys. There isn’t…. you know. I’m not even going to finish that sentence. I think I’ve said enough. The only thing else I want to say is that the ending isn’t just gripping and suspenseful. It is epic, raw, and emotional. You don’t get that often in this genre. Damn. Well. Played.