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Crime & Beyond met last month to discuss Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. We discussed the book for an hour and were then joined by the author for a little Q&A. Here’s how things went...

The book got some decent scores for the most part, I think 8 was a popular number. We had 17 people on the Zoom call and the scores were: one 9, eight 8s, one 7.5, two 7s, one 6.5, two 6s, and two 5s. One of our 8s was really a 7 that had one point added because the author wasn’t Ruth Ware (you know who you are, Stephanie).

Our top scoring members said that the book was really good and a really fast read. Many of us didn’t guess that it was the cop friend, Marty, and so liked the surprise ending. Allison (I corrected your name for you – you’re welcome) doesn’t usually like open-ended endings, but liked this one. Amy got an emotional response to the description of the bookstore’s smell and feel. We just couldn’t stop reading it.

Not many of us liked Mal and some of the low scores were because he was a whiny narrator and the fact that the book was inordinately complicated at the beginning. We all did agree we liked the premise, and the cat. Sharon K. thought he would be caught because they would identify the cat.

And then there was the ending. Heather was on the fence about whether Mal and Marty were the same person or two different people. We spent quite a bit of time discussing these possibilities and found a lot of points that led to the possibility that they were the same person. The two always met in a bar, but we didn’t hear anyone else talk to the two of them. A different drink was ordered each time – who does that? Only the one name was (or was it wasn’t) changed for the story. They had the same initials. The list was quite extensive and by the time Peter Swanson came on the call we were really needing the answer.

Alas, he told us that he intended them to be two different people, but he liked that we came up with the idea that they could have been the same person. He told us how he came up with the idea for the book while on a walk, trying to flesh out a short story he was writing. When he got the idea, he couldn’t stop thinking about it and ended up plotting the whole book in his head on his walk. The books he chose were mostly ones he’s loved since he read them, but he did have to change the list up a bit (and shorten it) because they had to fit the story and be murders that could be committed just like in the books. He had a few that he discarded before landing on his 8.

We then asked him to name some of his favorite books and movies. Jeff has listed them on our Wiki site. He talked about how a great book/movie has 1/3 mystery, 1/3 romance, and 1/3 humor (I think I remember that right). As for his current projects, he just turned a book in to his editor and it’ll be out next year. He did tell us what he was working on after that, but I didn't write it down.

Thanks to everyone who came up with questions for the author. It was a lot of fun and I don’t think any of us would have been satisfied if we did not find out if Mal had a split personality. We would have had to have Sharon L. email the author if he hadn’t Zoomed in.

We meet next on July 27 to discuss The Department of Sensitive Crimes by Alexander McCall Smith. We may be joined by 2 new prospective members who have contacted me about the club. The Zoom link is below and I will send it out again before the meeting. See you on the 27th.

Kerry

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