Nine Lives
by Swanson, Peter

"From the New York Times bestselling author of Eight Perfect Murders comes the heart-pounding story of nine strangers who receive a cryptic list with their names on it-and then begin to die in highly unusual circumstances"-

*Starred Review* As he did in Eight Perfect Murders (2020), Swanson again takes the idea of fiction as homage to deliriously vertiginous new heights. What seems initially to be a fairly straightforward take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None turns out to be much, much more. The plot hinges, as in Christie's novel, on a group of characters being bumped off one at a time, but here the victims aren't all comfy in a country house but strung out around the country, and there is seemingly nothing to connect them-except that they have all received an ominous list of nine names, including their own. No explanation. Then the recipients of the list begin to die, often in bizarre ways. FBI agent Jessica Winslow, whose name is on the list, begins the search for links, as Swanson tantalizingly fills in backstory on the actual and would-be victims, leaving it to the reader to unlock what eludes Winslow. Meanwhile, a detective (and Christie buff) in rural Maine, where the first murder takes place, settles in for some close textual analysis. Naturally, there are many surprises in store for both readers and characters, and while the tension mounts deliciously as we wonder if there will be any survivors, the real fascination here is the explanation itself-and what it reveals about the cancerous effects of guilt and obsession. Old-school mystery, certainly, but delivered with a wonderful new-school sensibility. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

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