I am delighted to share my review today for Nine Lives by Peter Swanson. This is a really enjoyable crime mystery book that I had requested from NetGalley. My thanks to Faber & Faber for granting my request to read this title.
If you’re on the list you’re marked for death.
The envelope is unremarkable. There is no return address. It contains a single, folded, sheet of white paper.
The envelope drops through the mail slot like any other piece of post. But for the nine complete strangers who receive it – each of them recognising just one name, their own, on the enclosed list – it will be the most life-altering letter they ever receive. It could also be the last, as one by one, they start to meet their end.
When a letter arrives with nine different names on it and one of them is your own. What would you do? Well for the nine recipients of the letters, seeing their names on a random list doesn’t necessarily alarm them or bother them. Just a prank maybe or something that has been mistakenly mailed. One of the recipients works for the FBI, she is intrigued by this list and seems to think one of the names sounds familiar.
This is a slower-paced story and one where the author introduces the nine letter recipients and gives the basics about them. Nothing seems to link them and they all seem like random strangers. The author gradually ups the suspense throughout this story and it isn’t until the final 20% of the book that things suddenly become clear.
Given that the characters are unknown to each other, there is something that obviously links them. This is the letter with their names on it. One death doesn’t really mean anything, but when a second and then a third person on the list turns up dead, well there is something obviously more going on.
I did like this slower pace, it is one of those stories that feels like nothing is really linking or moving but in subtle ways, things are developing. The author lays down the foundation and then builds them, adding more details to the remaining characters until the end of the book.
This is a crime based story but it felt more like a crime mystery than a crime thriller. Discovering the reasons, the motives and the underlying cause of the list made this a quite addictive read. It is one I would be happy to recommend.
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