William Morrow | March 2020 | 288 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
I always look forward to a new Peter Swanson book. Aside from being suspenseful and unputdownable, most often his characters intrigue me and this book is no exception.
Our protagonist, Malcolm Kershaw, is a bookseller and he loves mystery books, although he hasn't read them for a while now. He's lived by himself ever since his wife passed from an accident and it seems his life only revolves around the bookshop. But distraction comes when an FBI agent, Gwen Mulvey, comes knocking on his door one day and question him about a list of book titles which he'd compiled on his blog years ago. Titled "Eight Perfect Murders", Malcolm had chosen eight books featuring various crime acts which he thought were clever and seamlessly executed. There's nothing wrong about the list, but it seems someone has started using Malcolm's list to commit murders. While they don't mirror the original acts from the books, it isn't hard to pinpoint the hints and the similarities.
(To the inquiring mind, the titles are: 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. There's also a reason for naming these titles because they contain some spoilers and if you intend to read those titles, then perhaps you should do so before picking up this book.)
At this stage, Malcolm knew perhaps there's someone who's watching his every moves since the hints of targeting begins to get a bit too personal. To protect himself and to avoid being suspected, he decides to investigate on his own but is he ready for the truth?
I thought this story was clever; and it'd definitely makes a bibliophile (or at least readers of the thrillers genre) very happy of the bookish references and yes, more titles to explore if you haven't read those eight books. Malcolm was an intriguing character; and it makes it more interesting to read because he's the narrator and at times you wouldn't know if you could trust their words. I'd fun following Malcolm's journey into his investigations; and I'd say the conclusion would leave many readers itching for a discussion. I wouldn't say more so I'd leave you with a favourite quote from this book:
"Books are time travel. True readers all know this. But books don't just take you back to the time in which they were written; they can take you back to different versions of yourself." ~ Pg 38
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