Nine Lives – Book Review

Nine Lives by: Peter Swanson
Narrated by: Jacques Roy, Mark Bramhall
Published on: March 15, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Number of Pages: 340
Audio Book: 7Hrs 11 Min


Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke – until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor.

FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next….


I am a sucker for any book with a number in the title. It is obviously a ploy to grab my attention and I freely admit that it works on me. You add on a not so subtle nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and then I am doubly interested. So now that I’ve finished it, did it work for me? Yes and No.

In Nine Lives, nine strangers each receive a list with their name on it. To the recipients, it appears a little unusual, but meaningless. That is until they start getting killed off one by one. The FBI gets involved, but is it in time?

Probably the most important thing to know about my review is that I listened to it on audio. And I think it completely shaped my thoughts on the book as a whole. First, there are a lot of characters. As I listened to it on audio I determined that while the narrator is terrific as a narrator, I struggled with him as a voice actor. I had a difficult time identifying by the narrator’s voice, cadence, accent, and speaking rhythm who each character was. There were nine individuals on the list, but as the book weaves in and out of the various storylines nine lives means that each one has another set of characters in their own storyline that you have to learn. The story is fast paced and if I was distracted by a household chore or changing lanes when driving I found it difficult to pick right back up and know who is speaking and what is going on. As a result I found the first half of the book confusing at times until there were less characters to flip back and forth between.

Second, some of the book structure confused me for a while due to the audio. I couldn’t visually see that the list of names that kept getting repeated were what I am assuming was the beginning of the next chapter. But I also attempted for a while to see if the names were altering or changing order or something like that. Eventually, I figured it out, but not without some frustration and confusion.

What I did enjoy was the structure and the intricateness of it all. I was thrilled with the overall idea and had a lot of fun attempting to determine which I characters I liked, didn’t like, wanted to live at the end or just didn’t care about. I loved the moments where I went “Did that just happen?”

I also loved how incredibly fast paced it is. Something is always happening. There was not a single moment where I thought “I wonder when all those those murders will start.” Nope. That thought never once crossed my mind. At a tad over 7 hours, the audio book is great for a fast read.

All in all, a mixed bag for me. I wished I had read it instead of listened to it. But, one thing I learned is that I enjoy Peter Swanson’s writing style. I haven’t read any of his previous books and definitely will now.

Rating: 3.5