The first book I’ve read in 2020–and actually, I devoured the whole thing January 1st–is Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. I’d previously read and had varying levels of enjoyment from several of Swanson’s previous books: The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, All the Beautiful Lies, and Before She Knew Him. Eight Perfect Murders, which will be published in March, is by far my favourite of the four books. It follows a narrator, Malcolm, who co-owns and manages a mystery-themed book shop in Boston. Years ago, he wrote a blog post detailing eight perfect literary murders. Now, an FBI agent shows up, wanting his help, when it looks like somebody is recreating the murders from those books–and that person just might know Malcolm.
I always love a somewhat unreliable narrator, and Malcom is the perfect balance of smart and secretive. He’s not a narrator I had a strong emotional connection to, but he’s written that way, as somebody who always holds people at a distance. I really enjoyed the conversational way the book was written, and Swanson certainly knows how to weave an intriguing story together. The actual twists were enjoyable, but not the best part of the book. I wish there was a bit more tension in the book, which sometimes gets bogged down due to resharing the details of the eight books (which are all older, but are definitely spoiled, so be warned) included. Overall, Eight Perfect Murders is a well-crafted plot and narrative, with a slow burn and an atmospheric wintery Boston setting, and while it’s not my new favourite mystery it’s certainly left me wanting to pick up more from Swanson in the future.