A series of unsolved murders with one thing in common: each of the deaths bears an eerie resemblance to the crimes depicted in classic mystery novels.
The deaths lead FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey to mystery bookshop Old Devils. Owner Malcolm Kershaw had once posted online an article titled ‘My Eight Favourite Murders,’ and there seems to be a deadly link between the deaths and his list – which includes Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
Can the killer be stopped before all eight of these perfect murders have been re-enacted?
What makes the perfect murder? Don’t tell me you have never mused about this, especially if you are a hard-core crime fiction aficionado, like me. I like my novels entertaining, complex, and most of all, ingenious. The genre is vast and we encounter many deaths perpetrated by very different (or not so different sometimes) people for a hundred reasons (or a dozen with nuances…) I love discerning patterns and studying behaviors. Have I ever thought about what kind of killing I would use to get rid of someone? Yes. I must thank all the amazing crime fiction authors who regularly feed my imagination with clever ways to carry deadly plans. I am in awe of the way writers come up with ideas and manage to actually kill people and be celebrated for it!
Okay, that sounds a bit twisted, but hey, I am a bookworm, I am bound to be a bit twisted. In a good way.
Back to Peter Swanson’s latest novel. Rules for Perfect Murders is an ode to the genre and a hymn to book love. Fascinating in the way old mysteries will always be, this book reunites the best of what crime has to offer. Murders, a strong intrigue, a sense of unreliability. But to me, its best feature is its main character.
Told through a very peculiar first-person narrative, Rules for Perfect Murders sets the tone straight away. An FBI agent gets in touch with Malcolm Kershaw, a bookseller specialized in crime fiction, after connecting several murders together. The link? A blog post written by Malcolm years ago, called “My Eight Favorite Murders”
Now, if this is not a call to any book lover, and most particularly those of us spending hours online sharing our thoughts, coming up with the same kind of lists, and relishing the thrill of suspense, I don’t know what is! I felt a pang of emotion when I met Malcolm. I was a bookseller working in the crime department. I make up lists of books I love, and many of them involve dead bodies. I would die if a federal agent came up to me to help her with an investigation! Well, not literally I hope, but I would be intrigued, and so eager to help. I found myself listing the things I had in common with Malcolm. I smiled whenever I discovered a new side of him that resonated with me. Peter Swanson is a book lover himself and knows how to talk to the rest of us!
Malcolm’s list evokes eight books, and some more get mentioned in the novel. I haven’t read them all, but now I intend to. The author explores classics and books I hadn’t heard of in a way only a passionate bookworm would. His way of using those titles to take us on a killing journey is brilliant. Can you imagine someone using one of your bookish lists to commit crime? Or should I say, the perfect crimes? This thought fills me with dread, and I can only hope readers wandering around my blog are nice and twisted the way I am!
What makes a murder perfect? Well, I don’t have the answer, but I can tell you Rules for Perfect Murders is exactly what the title says – perfect. Nostalgic in its own way, following the rules of good old golden crime novels with twists from all decades and motives as old as the earth, Peter Swanson’s novel is a gift to the genre, and to all readers looking for a new Classic with a big C.
You can get your copy of this book here!
I would like to thank Faber & Faber for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for providing me with a copy of this book. This is my unbiased opinion.