The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi is about murder stories taken place before World War II. The Eighth Detective is a story within stories, it works as both a short story anthology and an over-arching narrative. The novel is very clever in the way twist are laid out, the end is filled with so many twists they actually where’s out their welcome. There are 7 short stories in this novel all involving murder and a mathematic formula to make a murder mystery work. The short stories are borrowed from mainly Agatha Christie stories, I’m sure for legal reasons the story could not mention her by name. The short stories are good with some being great, but I enjoyed the conversations after the stories more, where the story is broken down and discussed. Thanks to Netgalley and Henry and Holt Company for granting me a copy. The Eighth Detective was published on 8-4-2020.
Favorite Quote: “Chess is a cheap metaphor. It’s what men use to talk in a grandiose way about conflict.”
The Plot: Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, worked out a theory thirty years ago about how to create the perfect murder mystery stories. After the theory was published, he quietly wrote a book of 7 short stories testing the theory called The White Murders . The book has came and went, but now 30 years later a young editor Julia is interested in republishing the book and wants access to the Grant McAllister who lives a quiet life away as a recluse. Grant is real iffy on his past not really wanting to discuss it. They start reading his short stories and breaking them down after exposing little truth and some he can’t or won’t answer like the similarity in the title and the real murders called The White Murders.
What I Liked: The conversations on the breakdown of stories are so good. The first short story is really good and immediately had me hooked. There’s one short story that takes place on the remote island after the aftermath of one of my favorite Agatha Christie stories And Then There Were None. I liked this one it intrigued me because it would be so hard to figure out what happened, and the perfect place for murder. This story was the only direct clone the ending’s of The Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd are part of the perfect endings. The language and lines of dialogue are good and through out the short stories. The main twist is really good with how clever it is.
What I Disliked: The first thing that intrigued me was the comparison to the White Murders, it’s kind of answered but I wanted more facts. How do you not think or acknowledge Agatha Christie in the Foreword or Afterword. I thought at the end there was too many twist that did not involve the short stories we just analyzed.
Recommendations: I’m going to barely recommend this one, the short stories for the most part are good and the conversations after are even better. If you like classic murder mystery that involves thought and deduction and not forensics then this novel is for you. You’re never going to be as good as Agatha Christie but it is still enjoyable. This book is getting unfairly compared to The 7 and a half Murders of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton who reinvented the murder mystery and told it in a unique way, the Eighth detective just has a unique telling. This was another hard review for me to place, I kept going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, but eventually settled on a number barely making it to the threshold. I rated The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi 4 out of 5 stars. I will look for Pavesi books in the future, I see a lot of promise in the writing.