Nine Lives by Peter Swanson


NIne Lives by Peter Swanson on a desk beside a Starbucks coffee cup.

Nine Lives is my second read by Peter Swanson. I read but wasn’t a fan of his thriller, Every Vow You Break. Although I didn’t love Every Vow You Break, I was intrigued enough by his writing to give him another try as an author.

“We all know that our time on earth is brief, the beads seemed to say. We know it, even if we don’t always feel it. Our faces and bodies are only beautiful for a short time.”

Peter Swanson, Nine Lives

In this thriller, nine strangers receive a list in the mail with their names and those of eight others. One of the individuals named on the list is a detective and starts becoming concerned the list is a hit list of some sort. And, then these seemingly unconnected people on the list start dying in random ways.

Admittedly inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the premise of the book was interesting and had tremendous potential. Although the plot borrowed a little too heavily from Agatha in my opinion, it held my attention and had some surprises. 

However, it lacked some in the execution. It was told from the viewpoints of the nine people on the list in numbered chapters that restarted with each character. The number of characters, the brevity of the chapters, and the restarting numbers made for a dizzying reading experience. I found it hard to connect with or care about any of the nine people involved. It was also confusing how the full list kept being repeated even after some of the people had been eliminated – I kept losing track of who was still alive.

Nine Lives is an absorbing read that you’ll most likely want to finish, but it won’t blow your mind. Chances are you will be entertained for a few hours, but you won’t remember much about it a week later.

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