Review: Nine Lives by Peter Swanson


Title: Nine Lives

Author: Peter Swanson

Published: 3rd March 2022, Faber UK

Status: Read March 2022 courtesy Faber & Faber/NetgalleyUK



My Thoughts:


“Inside was a single piece of paper, computer printed, the font Courier, like the mailing label.

Matthew Beaumont

Jay Coates

Ethan Dart

Caroline Geddes

Frank Hopkins

Alison Horne

Arthur Kruse

Jack Radebaugh

Jessica Winslow”

Drawing inspiration from the Agatha Christie classic, ‘And Then There Were None’ aka ‘The ABC Murders, in Nine Lives, Peter Swanson’s eighth novel, nine individuals each receive a list of nine names that includes their own.

Most dismiss the odd letter, but FBI agent Jessica Winslow submits the list she received for analysis. She’s surprised when the next day she’s alerted to the murder of a Frank Hopkins. Discovered on a Maine beach below his resort hotel, clutching a torn envelope containing the same list of names, seventy two year old Frank had been forcibly drowned in a tidal pool. Reaching out to the other names listed, spread across the United States, with seemingly nothing in common and no obvious connections, Jessica wonders if Frank’s murder is simply a coincidence, until Matthew Beaumont is shot dead while jogging.

Unusually there is no real central character in Nine Lives, the story unfolds from multiple perspectives, some of whom only have a brief role. I thought this narrative frame worked well, and Swanson ably established distinct characters within these limitations. Those named on the list react with varying levels of concern to the assumed threat on their lives, but whether they underestimate the threat or not, it seems the killer is not to be dissuaded from his mission. The suspense builds as each body drops and I found the loss of some characters more affecting than others.

I deduced some elements of the mystery fairly early on, but overall I thought the plot was well crafted, with the requisite scattered clues and misdirects. There’s some information given near the end of the story that seems to have been overlooked by some readers, but which I think helps what appears to be a somewhat weak motive make more sense.

I enjoyed Nine Lives, finding it to be a clever and tense tale of revenge.


Available from Faber UK

Or from your preferred retailer

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen Murdoch
    Mar 12, 2022 @ 08:07:26

    I’ve seen this one around and believe it is on my TBR list (and maybe even on my shelf/). It sounds really good.



  2. Trackback: Its Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundaySalon #SundayPost | book'd out
  3. Carol Evans
    Mar 15, 2022 @ 05:20:27

    I’ve read a couple by Swanson, neither of which I loved. But this one really sounds good. I may have to give him another chance.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Northwoman
    Mar 25, 2022 @ 07:29:50

    I really enjoyed this one. Wonderful review!

    Anne – Books of My Heart



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