Bibliophile | ‘Rules for Perfect Murders’ is an ode to mystery novels

Rules for Perfect Murders
by Peter Swanson
Allen & Unwin

The weather was extremely bleak and the snow was so bad that the Boston bookshop Old Devils was vacant when FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey arrived to speak with the owner Malcolm Kershaw. Kershaw narrates how she was inquiring about a list he had posted on the store’s blog – Eight Perfect Murders.

Crime-thriller expert Mal had come up with a list of what he considered to be the most ingenious and the most fool-proof murders in crime fiction. The books that were not necessarily the best written, but the ones where the murderer had come “closest to realising that platonic ideal of a perfect murder” such as Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

Pretty much a loner since the tragic death of his wife five years previously, Mal spends time with Agent Mulvey to discover that a series of murders have been committed by someone who seems to be working their way through the list … somebody who most probably is known to Mal.

Everyone in Mal’s orbit becomes a suspect but the thing about the list was that Mal was hoping to identify fictional murders that were so clever that the perpetrator could never be caught. As Agent Mulvey and Mal read and reread the novels on the list, it seems as if there are more copycat murders being committed.

Just as well that a locked-in winter is approaching because it will be a huge temptation to read all eight books on the list … or see many of their filmic versions. I didn’t know that AA Milne wrote the perfect crime novel The Red House Mystery before he created his lasting legacy Winnie the Pooh.

The tension is continually ramped up with clever plot twists and tantalising pieces of information that had previously been withheld. So many of the characters have created fictional worlds built on deceit, revealing only what they want to the people in their lives that this book could almost be a memoir rather than a work of fiction.

Lezly Herbert

Love OUTinPerth Campaign

Help support the publication of OUTinPerth by contributing to our
GoFundMe campaign.

Tags: , , ,