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Mysteries of the murderous kind

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is read a murder mystery book. I love reading these books in any season, but for some reason they just seem to hit the spot when I read them in autumn, especially in October.

Curl up with a spooky murder mystery book this fall.
Curl up with a spooky murder mystery book this fall. Photo credit: Rebecca Gonzales

Nothing beats a warm cup of coffee and a murder mystery book on a crisp fall day, so I have compiled a list of three of my recent murder mystery reads. I have rated each of them from one to five, with five being the best score. They aren’t listed in any particular order.

“Eight Perfect Murders” by Peter Swanson: 4.5/5

Malcolm Kershaw, the owner of Old Devils Bookstore — a bookstore specializing in mystery books — finds himself wrapped up in an FBI investigation into multiple unsolved murders in the Boston area.

The unknown killer, it seems, has been using a list that Kershaw made years ago as inspiration for his killings; this list is called “Eight Perfect Murders.”

Kershaw’s list is a compilation of what he considers to be the most unsolvable crimes in the mystery genre. The making of this list was all in good fun as a way to introduce the bookstore to the online world, but now, after all these years, it seems that it is being used to inspire real-world killings.

Kershaw begins to look for possible suspects on his own, separate from the official FBI investigation. He begins to suspect everyone around him, and soon he isn’t sure who he can trust, especially when a series of shocking twists and turns erupts in his investigation.

"Eight Perfect Murders" chronicles one man&squot;s cold case investigation.
"Eight Perfect Murders" chronicles a bookstore owner's adventure getting caught up in an FBI cold case investigation. Photo credit: Rebecca Gonzales

My overall rating of this book is 4.5 out of 5. The story was very well-written, and even though it took place during a very snowy February in Boston, it was still a very atmospheric and cozy read for the fall season.

When I was reading this, I could not put it down and even when I did have to stop reading, I was still thinking about it.

Swanson’s writing style is very enchanting; he crafted a story that held a lot of nuances. We don’t know everything about Kershaw and his past, but as the story goes on, we learn more about him, his life and what led him to the place he is in.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery that is all about trying to figure out who we, as the reader, can and should trust and also who in the main character’s life is the actual murderer.

“The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena: 2/5

Anne and Marco Conti are a seemingly strong couple. They have a great relationship, good jobs, a good house and they have just had a baby girl, Cora.

Their neighbors, Cynthia and Graham, invite the Conti’s over for a dinner party, but insist that they must leave baby Cora home as it’s an “adults only” party.

Anne and Marco hire a babysitter for the night, but when the night of the party comes around, their babysitter cancels at the last minute.

Instead of calling their neighbors and rescheduling or just bringing Cora with them, Marco convinces Anne that it’ll be just fine leaving Cora alone in her crib to sleep. They come up with a plan to walk over to their house every 30 minutes to check on her.

Throughout the night, they are able to keep up with this plan, and everything seems to be just fine. When they get home early in the morning from the party, they are shocked to find their door wide open and baby Cora missing from her crib.

The Conti’s call the police to report what happened, and soon, Detective Rasbach arrives at the scene. He begins his investigation and instantly becomes very suspicious of Anne and Marco.

As the investigation continues, more clues turn up and more secrets are uncovered. Anne and Marco have been lying to each other for years, and this catastrophic event adds more tension between the two, unraveling their seemingly perfect marriage.

Reading a murder mystery book is a great way to get into the spooky autumn mood.
Reading a murder mystery book is a great way to get into the spooky autumn mood. Photo credit: Rebecca Gonzales

I’m going to be honest, I hated almost every second of this book. I remember finishing this book and thinking “What the hell did I just read?”

I ended up giving this book a 2 out of 5, and the only reason it did not get a 1 out of 5 was simply because I was thoroughly curious about what was going to happen.

In the beginning, I enjoyed the novel just because I was curious about how the plot was going to unfold, but as I continued, I slowly lost my mind.

I didn’t like any of the characters; I thought they were all idiots who made many stupid and ridiculous decisions and mistakes.

The writing was fine, but definitely nothing to write home about. I wish that something better happened, something less predictable.

There were too many ridiculous things happening in the story that made the plot lose its link to reality. It felt very chaotic and all over the place, but not in a good way.

The events that took place throughout this book were very big and dramatic, which made it feel as if the reveal was going to be just as big and dramatic, but it wasn’t. The ending was unsatisfying and fell flat.

“The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn: 4/5

Anna Fox lives alone in her New York home. She’s a single, middle-aged woman who also happens to have agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes excessive and immense fear of certain situations or places. For Anna her agoraphobia prevents her from leaving her house.

She spends her days watching old movies, drinking wine, playing online chess and spying on her neighbors.

A new family moves into the house across the street from Anna. The Russell family — a father, a mother and their teenage son — seems like the perfect family. But one night while Anna is looking out her window watching them, she sees something she’s not supposed to.

She’s shocked and horrified by what she sees, and at that moment, her world begins to crumble around her.

Secrets start to arise and Anna can’t seem to get what she saw out of her head. Her mind is racing and she can’t help but wonder if what she saw was real. Was she imagining everything or did something actually happen? Who can she trust?

"The Woman in the Window" is about a woman who sees something shocking outside of her window.
"The Woman in the Window" is about a woman who sees something shocking outside of her window. Photo credit: Rebecca Gonzales

I really liked this book. It kept me hooked from the very beginning. The writing was very clear and cohesive; the storyline was not muddled or chaotic and the reveal of what was truly happening left me shocked. I did not see the ending coming.

I gave this book a 4 out of 5 mostly because I don’t know if this book is one of my absolute favorites.

That being said, I found it very entertaining and couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed reading this book and thought Finn developed the plot in a very intriguing way.

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Breanna Hart
Breanna Hart, Asst. copy desk chief

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