With his seven previous mysteries, the author has earned a reputation for ingenious plotting and a clear, precise writing style — and Nine Lives is no exception. And this time, he tells readers just enough about the lives of the nine people on the hit list to make readers care what happens to them.
Peter Swanson knows how to keep a captive audience riveted. Each successive book he’s written has held its own in thrilling his readers. Once the list reaches the first person, you will find yourself hooked on a whodunit coupled with a gradually unfolding tragedy. It is a book that will render you speechless and sleepless when finished.
Literary antecedents to this story can be found in works by Muriel Spark and Agatha Christie. Mr. Swanson honors genre traditions by arousing expectations only to subvert them—and then subvert them again. Some of the surprises are so unexpected, readers may be doing mental backflips to keep up. The author of Nine Lives has surpassed his own high standards.
Nine Lives is in many ways an heir to Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit And Then There Were None, in which eight random individuals are invited to a remote island only to be stalked by a killer. But where Christie made clear that her characters had all committed crimes and the killer was out for revenge, the motives and location of Swanson’s killer are terrifyingly opaque. Swanson creates a rollercoaster for readers, offering clues only to upend everything that was supposedly certain moments earlier. And all the while, the number of remaining victims is counting down, from nine to zero.
Peter Swanson is one of my go-to authors, and he keeps getting better with each new book he writes. His latest effort, Nine Lives, is no exception ... Terrific ... Chilling ... I will not spoil any of the mastery that Peter Swanson spins together here, but he does come up with a backstory that connects everything in such a way that your head will be spinning. At the same time, you will appreciate his generous nod to classic mystery tales when the denouement is revealed.
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 ... 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.
[A] taut thriller ... Swanson makes the plotline plausible, despite radically transforming the setting from Christie’s isolated island with its closed circle of suspects, to the entire continental U.S. This is a well-crafted page-turner.