Rules for Perfect Murders – Peter Swanson

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*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author, Faber & Faber and NetGalleyThe decision to review and my opinions are my own.*


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If you want to get away with murder, play by the rules

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?



The perfect murder story for mystery book lovers!

I loved reading The Rules for Perfect Murders and would definitely read more of Peter Swanson’s books just on the strength of this one.

I should warn potential readers that there are spoilers for the eight mystery books on his ‘perfect murder’ list, so if that worries you, you might want to read those first!  Personally I had read/watched all I planned to from the list and so wasn’t too worried about it.  You don’t need to have read those eight books either – although it might enhance the experience if you have – as the author includes everything you need to know in this text.  For those interested, the list is as follows:

The ABC Murders – Agatha Christie

Deathtrap – Ira Levin

Double Indemnity – James M. Cain

The Drowner – John D. MacDonald

Malice Aforethought – Anthony Berkeley Cox

The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith

The main character, and narrator, Malcolm Kershaw runs Old Devil’s Bookstore, which specialises in mystery books old and new, and back when he was new and full of enthusiasm he opened the book shop blog with his list of ‘perfect murders’… the ones where the perpetrator should or could have got away with it.

But now the FBI are on his doorstep asking for his help, if a little suspiciously, as someone appears to be following Malcolm’s list to commit their own series of unsolvable murders.  Someone who wants Malcolm to know what they are doing.

Immediately we are not only plunged into the investigation at hand – an ideal one for book lovers, being based on and investigated through reading books – but also the secrets that Malcolm has been hiding from for so long.  Like what really happened to his marriage?  Why does he have nightmares of running from danger?  And why is he not being completely honest with Agent Gwen Mulvey about what he knows, or suspects he knows?

As a mystery fan, I found this book an absolute delight to read.  Not only is it packed with literary references and lists, but it also cleverly blends old-school, golden-age cosy mysteries with more modern crime thrillers as the plot unfolds, giving mystery fans the best of all possible worlds as they read.

I adored Malcolm Kershaw, despite or because of his aloof and sometimes patronising manner, and couldn’t devour his story (because this is totally HIS story) quickly enough.  It was a real stay-up-all-nighter and I enjoyed every minute.

Now I’m off to add the rest of Mr Swanson’s oeuvre to my ever-increasing wishlist!



   “Well, besides the fact that a strange man comes into the store every day and buys a new copy of The A.B.C. Murders, I don’t know what else to tell you.”  Her eyes raised for a moment before she realised I’d made a joke, or an attempt at one, then she smiled a little in acknowledgement.  I asked her, “You think these murders are related to the book?”
I do,” she said.  “It’s too fantastical for it not to be.”

– Peter Swanson, Rules for Perfect Murders


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Find more from Peter Swanson at his website here, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

Rules for Perfect Murders is available on Amazon right now!







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