ARC REVIEW: Nine Lives by Peter Swanson

Title: Nine Lives by Peter Swanson
Pages: 336
Published by: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 3rd March 2022
Genre: Crime & Thriller
Format: Paperback
Amazon UK – Waterstones


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.

But why?

My review:

A massive thank you to Faber & Faber for sending me a copy of this book for review!

Nine Lives is a thrilling story from start to finish, with a tightly plotted mystery and a compelling cast of characters. 

The story follows nine strangers who receive a list with their name on. With no connection to one another, most of them dismiss the list but FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is also on the list, believes there’s something more to it and immediately starts looking into each victim to find out what the connection is. As people on the list are murdered one by one, the remaining victims are offered police protection in an attempt to prevent more people from dying. 

The story wastes no time in introducing everyone and getting right down to their personality and everyday life. There’s some characters you’ll come to like, others you’ll immediately dislike. You spend more time with certain characters like Jessica, while others you have a glimpse into their life and a chance to consider why they’re on the list before they are inevitably murdered. It’s a very intriguing and puzzling story as the characters are from completely different backgrounds. I was especially intrigued by the inclusion of an FBI agent and wondered if it was a mistake or if the murderer was that confident about killing all these people. 

There’s a very handy list at the beginning that lists where the nine people live and what their occupation is. I really appreciated that and kept flipping back to it because keeping track of nine completely different characters is quite hard. I did get a couple of them muddled up because they didn’t stand out that much, but the remaining characters were distinguishable. I was surprised by how developed the characters were and how badly I wanted some of them to survive. I definitely empathised with some of them and was rooting for them to evade the killer. It was interesting to see all the different reactions as some of them have no idea they’re about to die, while others are just waiting for their turn to come. I was most interested in finding out whether the police protection would prevent more people from dying, or if it would just give the killer a chance to be more creative. 

The chapters are short and sweet, which I loved as it kept the story moving at a fast pace. You can feel the tension oozing out of the pages as the killer closes in on the nine people. The story counts down the remaining victims after each killing and I thought that was a very chilling addition. Despite the multiple points of view, you can definitely sense the urgency and desperation to prevent more killings and catch the killer before the list hits zero. However, the killer’s identity remains shrouded in mystery for most of the story and you’re kept in the dark right until the end. I didn’t see the twist at the end coming and thought it was quite clever! 

Nine Lives is a very intriguing read overall and I’d definitely recommend it for fans of whodunit mysteries. 

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