A thrilling, wildly inventive nesting doll of a mystery, in which a young editor travels to a remote village in the Mediterranean in the hopes of convincing a reclusive writer to republish his collection of detective stories, only to realize that there are greater mysteries beyond the pages of books.

There are rules for murder mysteries. There must be a victim. A suspect. A detective. The rest is just shuffling the sequence. Expanding the permutations. Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out – calculating the different orders and possibilities of a mystery into seven perfect detective stories he quietly published. But that was thirty years ago. Now Grant lives in seclusion on a remote Mediterranean island, counting the rest of his days.

Until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor knocks on his door. Julia wishes to republish his book, and together they must revisit those old stories: an author hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But there are things in the stories that don’t add up. Inconsistencies left by Grant that a sharp-eyed editor begins to suspect are more than mistakes. They may be clues, and Julia finds herself with a mystery of her own to solve.

Alex Pavesi’s Eight Detectives is a cerebral, inventive novel with a modern twist, where nothing is what it seems, and proof that the best mysteries break all the rules.

My Review

Very different and very clever. I’m not sure I’m clever enough to understand it. Certainly not the mathematical formula and permutations that are at the heart of the seven detective stories. Though that probably doesn’t really matter that much.

The book is made up of these short stories but also in between each are the discussions between editor Julia and author Grant McAllister on the remote Mediterranean island where he lives alone. Julia has told him that she wants to publish his short stories The White Murders thirty years after their original publication. But is that all there is to it?

As you read the stories (some of them quite gory and disturbing) and the discussions between editor and author, you begin to realise that the real mystery is that of Grant McAllister and why he moved here all those years ago. What is he hiding? And why does he have so little memory of the original stories? What do the inconsistencies point to?

This is one of the most original and clever books I have ever read. At times I had to re-read passages to try and understand it. And as for the stories themselves. Well number seven is definitely my favourite. But then I love the addition of the supernatural.

Many thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Alex Pavesi lives in London, where he writes full time. He previously worked as a software engineer and before that studied mathematics to PhD level, during which time he worked as a part-time bookseller. Eight Detectives is his first novel.

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