We both loved this book. The basic premise is so promising and full of fun, and writer Peter Swanson doesn’t fail to deliver.
Swanson’s come up with a deceptively simple concept. A series of unsolved (perhaps ultimately unsolvable) murders have all completely baffled police. Until now. FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey has spotted an improbable, maybe even absurd, potential connection. Each grisly death seems to be an echo of a fictional one: all the killings closely resemble crimes described in classic murder mysteries: best-selling stories written by the greats – Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, Donna Tartt.
Could these be weird, copycat killings? Is someone psychopathically replicating fictional slayings? Well, yes, obviously, otherwise we have no story. But who? And why.
I’ve always thought there’s something a little creepy – in a disturbingly, rather thrilling way – about second-hand bookshops. That distinctive odour of old, creased, stained, faded pages… the sense that one is walking between shelves and bookcases faintly vibrating with subtle echoes of past lives and interests, even obsessions…
A second-hand bookshop is a sort of time-machine of the mind.
But in Malcolm Kershaw’s Old Devils Bookshop in Boston, Mass., there’s an extra, more sinister dimension. Kershaw once posted an internet essay ‘My Eight Favourite Murders’. Nothing wrong with that. He’s a commercial bookseller, writing about fictional killings as described by best-selling authors.
But what IS wrong is the fact that some of those ‘favourite murders’ seem to have been re-enacted in the wake of his blog. Will more follow? Agent Mulvey realises she in a race against time – and the turning of the page. Terrific stuff.