Rules For Perfect Murders (Eight Perfect Murders) by Peter Swanson

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 centre 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. 

8 Perfect Murders

I loved this book so much. I read it in staves with The Pigeonhole and I couldn’t wait for the next one. A very skilled plot that kept everyone guessing right up to the end.

Mal is an unreliable narrator and while that can sometimes be a problem on this occasion it was fun. He isn’t always that likeable but I can’t say much more. Of the other main characters I loved Gwen the FBI Agent who is looking for his help with a number of unsolved murders but I could not relate to his late wife Claire. She’s a victim with a drug problem but I struggled to sympathise. Mal’s staff at Old Devils – Emily and Brandon – are fairly minor but my star of the show so to speak is Nero the cat. No spoilers but for anyone who worries about these things Nero is fine. There I said it.

After spending time with Gwen, Mal suspects everyone. Maybe he is right to do so. And is there only one killer? There are so many red herrings it took me ages to even come near to guessing the truth. Brilliant!

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for giving me the opportunity to read along with my fellow Pigeons.

His and Hers by Alice Feeney

There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it.

When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown–the sleepy countryside village where she grew up–Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it.

DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation.

One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Alternating between Anna’s and Jack’s points of view, His & Hers is a fast-paced, complex, and dark puzzle that will keep listeners guessing until the very end.

His and Hers

Alice Feeney has a style of writing all her own. I really love her books. However the Him And Her chapters I found a bit confusing as they are supposed to be the voices of Jack and Anna yet sometimes they seem to be spoken by other people. It didn’t stop me enjoying the book though and the constant twists and turns and not knowing who is lying are breath-taking. I am still not sure who was lying. Alice is the master of twisty story-telling and has found her own voice in a genre where there are so many new authors but she is amongst the best.

Her characters are often horrible but compelling. Some deserve everything they get – some you feel sorry for. Anna is not always likeable. Rachel and Zoe are truly wicked. Helen almost as bad while you feel sorry for Catherine Kelly. Jack is a good detective but Priya is better. You can’t pull the wool over her eyes. She’s like Colombo with the bit between her teeth. The questions just keep coming.

A great read. Many thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Sister by Kendra Elliott

Yesterday I was unlucky enough – or should that be lucky enough – to be unwell (not at death’s door I hasten to add) so I took the opportunity of a day off work to read this book in almost one go. I only put it down to nap. Wow what a read! What started out as a routine murder-suicide became something very sinister and terrifying in small town ‘Bartonville’, Oregon. Not exactly the murder capital of the US.

The Bartons live in a crumbling mansion. Two sisters Emily and Madison and three eccentric aunts who always wear the same colour jumpers as each other on a given day. There were three sisters but twenty years ago their father was found murdered and hanged from a tree. 10 year old Emily saw him swinging from the tree and also saw older sister Tara running away. Tara swore she was at a friend’s all night and wasn’t there. A few days later their mother committed suicide and sister Tara disappeared. They never heard from her again. The killer was caught and brought to justice.

Back to today. Emily’s family own the diner in the town where everyone meets and eats. On this fateful morning waitress Lyndsay fails to turn up for work so Emily goes to check she’s OK. What she finds is a gruesome discovery. Lyndsay has been stabbed to death and her husband Sean is hanging from a tree outside. For Emily the shock of another hanging is overwhelming.

Enter Zander and Ava from the FBI. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot! Why the FBI you ask? Well that’s for me to know and you to find out. Utterly compelling, this is an intricately woven tale of murder, secrets, race, hatred and romance. I just loved it.

Thanks to NetGalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott

I first discovered Rachel Abbott (and DCI Tom Douglas) a couple of years ago. Right Behind You is my sixth of her novels and in my humble opinion the best and most exciting. We have been following Tom for a long time now and his backstory has moved forwards a lot. His teenage daughter lives with him and Louisa – the latter of whom is heavily pregnant. His ex-wife Kate (a right cow) is about to marry someone she met five minutes ago and drag them all off to Australia. And then there’s brother Jack. We all thought he was dead for ages (including Tom). In fact he’s in hiding with his family because of his involvement in tracking down a criminal gang though his involvement was a bit dodgy – and illegal. I missed the book where this happens so don’t know much more.

But now to the main story. Jo is happily at home with wonderful, perfect doctor husband Ash (the love of her life) and beloved daughter Molly. All is tickety-boo until there is a knock at the door. Ash is arrested by two police officers and taken away in handcuffs for abusing his step-daughter. Forgot to mention he’s not her real father. Then a man and a woman arrive and say they are from Social Services and need to take Molly to a place of safety to question her about the abuse. Jo can’t go with them. Suspicious I hear you say. They will bring her back very soon but of course they don’t and the nightmare begins. Jo goes to the police and Tom and sidekick Becky become involved. In the meantime a gang boss is murdered in prison. Is there a connection? Jo starts to doubt her perfect husband. In the words of the just departed Terry Jones of Monty Python fame Ash ‘…is not the Messiah – (in fact) he’s a very naughty boy’. (Sorry couldn’t resist – RIP Terry.) But does that make Ash an abuser? No spoilers here. Just read it. I read it in two sittings. I just couldn’t put it down. You can read it as a standalone as Rachel explains bits of the background as we go along but it’s obviously better if you have read some of the others at least.

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

If you are wondering why I gave this book four stars instead of five I will endeavour to explain. Close to Home was the first and it was fab. As well as finding out the truth about what happened to Daisy, we also learnt about the police officers and detectives – Adam Fawley of course, Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer plus a few others less ‘important’. In book 2 In The Dark, we had another crime to solve but also more intrigue amongst the officers and more reveals of their relationships and back stories. But it was Book 3 No Way Out that was the real crescendo – the best story yet plus more about the main protagonists. So Book 4 was always going to be doomed to fade in comparison. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it was – but we learn very little more about Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer and what we learn about Fawley is more about his wife. Also the plotline wasn’t quite as gripping for me. However, I am still looking forward to Book 5. One thing that was really impressive about the four books is that looking back they didn’t blend into one another as so many series often do.

In The Dark by Cara Hunter

Another brilliant book from Cara Hunter. I started this book the night before last but then I had a day off work and I literally just sat at home and read to the end. So intricately put together and I love the way the detectives and PCs are growing in character. After a while you start to question everyone and everything. Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? Is anyone telling the truth? Who really are the victims here? I can’t wait to read the next in the series No Way Out. In fact I’ve just purchased it for my Kindle.

Snakes and Ladders by Victoria Selman

I really enjoyed reading this. A bit Silence of the Lambs meets Dan Brown and I particularly like the codes and clues aspect. Dr Sange is an interesting character as you don’t expect a serial killer to be so handsome and charismatic (unless it’s Keanu Reeves in The Watcher – though maybe not charismatic). I’m not sure Ziba would be my first choice of profiler -she’s a bit off the mark at times. Difficult to review this without giving anything away. Suffice to say I don’t totally agree that serial killers are made nor born. I think it’s a combination of nature and a lot of nurture. Plenty of people have terrible childhoods but they don’t turn into murderous psychopaths. A great read especially with the author and my fellow pigeons on The Pigeonhole – loved throwing ideas around. Looking forward to book #4.
Just one comment. Please either call him Jack or Wolfie not both! It’s so distracting.