A puzzling string of murders, an unreliable narrator, fun bookish themes, and classic murder mystery references galore all come together to form a delightfully twisting tale in Peter Swanson’s Eight Perfect Murders. The story is narrated by bookseller Malcom Kershaw, who, years prior, wrote a blog post highlighting what he considers eight of the most perfect murders in crime fiction. This list comes back to haunt him when FBI Special Agent Gwen Mulvey enters his life. List in hand, she explains her theory that a killer is working their way through his list, copying the “perfect” murders, and she enlists his help in strengthening this connection as fiction bleeds into reality. As Kershaw looks deeper into these murders, he finds that they are littered with clues that lead back to his own life, launching him into his own investigation of the crimes. And then there’s the kicker that pushes this novel into thriller territory. Kershaw has a secret of his own, a secret that is slowly revealed as Swanson breaks the fourth wall and has Kershaw speak directly to the reader. As the story goes on and Kershaw’s psyche suffers and his paranoia grows, the pace of the story shifts too, jerking readers around on a wild ride. Swanson’s writing is clever and accessible, starting slow and building up in a way that makes the reader want to ingest the book in one go. Eight Perfect Murders is a true tribute to the murder mystery genre, with the page-turning urgency of the thriller genre.
Join us for an Indy Book Club discussion of Eight Perfect Murders on Wednesday, August 11, at 6 p.m. at Municipal Winemakers.
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