Eight Perfect Murders

Morrow. Mar. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780062838209. $26.99. SUSPENSE
Lonely, widowed Boston bookstore owner Malcolm Kershaw gets a call from the FBI and meets with an agent who thinks a cold-blooded killer is using his years-old blog post that listed “eight perfect murders” in crime fiction as a playbook. Gwen thinks that three murders could be tied to Malcolm’s post; Malcolm, who has a few secrets of his own, wonders if the killer is someone he contacted on the dark web about trading murders à la Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. As the story unwinds, Malcolm’s chilly, dispassionate narration becomes more unreliable and tension increases about who might be next and how it ties in with his list. The suspects range from his quirky millennial employees to acquaintances of his dead, drug-addicted wife, and everybody around him harbors dark secrets.
VERDICT The wintry New England setting and eerily cool narration, together with trust-no-one twists and garish murders, will satisfy thriller readers; fans of classic mysteries by Agatha Christie, Ira Levin, and John D. MacDonald will enjoy how Swanson (Before She Knew Him) repurposes the plots. While you may not warm to Malcolm, you’ll stay to the finish of this one. [See Prepub Alert, 8/25/19.]
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