Book Review : Eight Perfect Murders (Malcolm Kershaw #1) by Peter Swanson

Genre : Mystery, Thriller
Page : 270 pages
Published : 3rd March 2020

A chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including 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.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookshop in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects—and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.

“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.”

Eight Perfect Murders.

Doesn’t the title itself sounds intriguing?

Series of unsolved murders that led FBI knock on The Old Devils Bookshop due to Mal – the owner of the bookshop, compiled list of the most unsolvable murder titled Eight Perfect Murders.

Where do I begin? This book possessed one of the most interesting titled ever created. Here’s some advice before you read the book.


Sounds weird because we never prepare anything upon reading. Because what’s there to it? We have a book, we wanna read and we just directly grab the book and read. Nothing more nothing less.

Unless the book provided hundreds of books recommendation that I couldn’t even keep track on and spoiled half the numbers (๑◕︵◕๑) which is kinda sad and annoying because it has so many great recommendation (moreover, for mystery-hunters) but spoiled their plot and ending for the sake of solving this current mystery we’re reading ಥ_ಥ

Anyhow, here’s list of the eight mystery books that is included as one of the main side-plots:

1. The Red House Mystery (1922) by A. A. Milne

2. Malice Aforethought (1931) by Anthony Berkeley Cox

3. The A.B.C. Murders (1936) by Agatha Christie

4. Double Indemnity (1943) by James M. Cain

5. Strangers on a Train (1950) by Patricia Highsmith

6. The Drowner (1963) by John D. MacDonald

7. Deathtrap (1978) by Ira Levin

8. The Secret History (1992) by Donna Tartt
If you haven’t read any of those books above and would love to experience the thrill beforehand, I suggest you to read it first before you made it to Eight Perfect Murders (which is FULL of spoilers). Unless, you’re not interested in thriller and just want to enjoy the mystery ride in Eight Perfect Murders.

Mystery and Thriller

Hmm.. this is a tough thing to state but I personally thought this book is lacking in thriller. I get the mystery vibe since the book have loads of mystery books added (or spoiled) and of course, there’s mystery to be solved. I am eager to start this book but the excitement are waning the more I read.

1. Slow-burn Mystery

The mystery’s are fast to arrived. It’s pretty excited at the beginning, but after stating the main mystery that truly needs work to be unveiled, I’m like waiting forever for the reveal.

2. Thriller?

Um.. I don’t think so? I don’t think this book reach to my standard as thriller. I’m waiting for the adrenaline rush but find myself noticing the book is kinda lacking in terms of action.

More About the Book

1. Memoir

Which got me surprised at first thinking it’s based on real life events. It’s a relieve to know it’s just a concept to the story. A genius concept I might say! However, I notice this book is so ‘normal’. The monotone narrative made me feels like reading a formal memoir rather than the murder mystery itself.

2. Plot

What can I say about the plot?! It’s genius! This book purpose is to make it seems real and the plot feels so real! It’s a mystery book written out of classic mystery books. Eight perfect murders mystery based on the classic mystery list. Amazing! However, due to the slow-pace plot, the more I read, the more I feel it’s dragging and somehow, repetitive.

T W I S T !

It’s quite mind-blowing to be honest, but It’s not that shocking for me. I have long guess what’s right what’s wrong and manage to guess it just well except for some of the details. Female intuition probably? or probably because I’ve read many mystery books(^v^)


My purpose for reading this book is to read the thrill it has. However, little did I know, this book is more into mystery-vibe. If you ended up reading this book, you could found a lot- and I mean, a lot of books recommendation. You might probably enjoy it more than I do, especially those who have read the eight books stated above. Because Eight Perfect Murders are ain’t no ordinary mystery. It is a combination of eight perfect murders told in a new narratives.

6 thoughts on “Book Review : Eight Perfect Murders (Malcolm Kershaw #1) by Peter Swanson

  1. I don’t think I’m going to read 8 other books before this one, that would mean years probably before I’d get to the one I want. I’m sorry it wasn’t very thriller-y. I do wonder if I’d be able to guess the big twist. It’s on my list but I din’t feel like bumping it up higher at the moment. Thanks for your wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Inge! It’s lovely having you here! I agree it’s a long journey to read ONE specific book. The moment I finished the other 8 books, I’m gonna pass out before starting the actual stuff lol. I have long set my eyes on the book but it does not reach my expectation *how sad was I* but I hope you love the book when you’ve decided to read them! And as always, thank you SO MUCH for your kind words Inge!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How fascinating, and what a temptress you are Celine… not just one but nine books are laid out before us. I had no idea A.A. Milne had written a murder mystery. I have read ‘A Secret History’ (brilliant) and I’m sure I’ve seen the film adaptations of some of the others. Not 6 or 7 though. And I do love anything set in a book shop. So many books, so little time *sigh*. It’s a nice problem to have though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh Chris! It’s always nice to have you here! To your surprised, I also had no idea that A. A. Milne had ACTUALLY written a murder mystery! How fascinating is that?!And I’m amazed you’ve watched almost EVERYTHING on the list! You really never failed to amazed me Chris! Also, your nice little problem is so relatable! I wish I could devour all the books in one sitting lol

      Liked by 1 person

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