By: Alex Pavesi
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: 20th August 2020
Format: Hardback (346 pages)
All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules.
Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.
But that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories.
An author, hiding from his past, and an editor, probing inside it.
But as she reads the stories, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are parts that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder.
One that’s remained unsolved for thirty years . . .
If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary.
But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .(Amazon)
Eight Detectives was the first book I received as part of the Goldsboro Prem1er Book of Month club. The Premise had sounded interesting, so as soon as I received my book, I decided to dive right in. All I can say is that from the very first page to the very last, Eight Detectives pulled me in and refused to let me go.
What I found brilliant and a true stroke of genius, was the structure of the book. We have this over arching plot line of Julia, the publicist trying working with the author of a book of short stories with the variations on the Murder Mystery story. However, we also have these short stories contained within the book. Those little short stories are great examples of the genre and I found myself looking forward to reading the next one, trying to figure out “who done it?” These short stories
The discussions between Julia and Grant, the author of the book in question, are really fascinating and it is clear that Pavesi has really thought about the components of the Murder Mystery. It then made me begin to really think about how my favourite movies, shows and books fit into the formula that was put forward. It cemented my appreciation on how the author or writer manages to meet these basic components, all the while trying their very best to make them unique.
The twist in these tales first became apparent just after the very first “story” presented to us, the reader. While at first glance the stories appear to be very clear cut in the way they are presented, it is only with Julias’ critique that the little flaws become more apparent. From the description of a houses layout that seems very impossible in the first story, to describing things that are normally black or very dark as white, you begin to see that things are not all that they seem.
After each critique carried out by Julia, where these flaws are presented, I found myself going back to re-read the short stories and then beginning to really concentrate on what was being presented. It was almost as if Pavesi was driving me to put on my detective hat and really pay attention, which was so enjoyable to do. This never felt like a chore and I admit I felt a little bit of triumph if I managed to spot something that didn’t fit in.
As the final short story was concluded, we were presented with the final act of our over-arching tale. I’m going to be honest here, I was only partially correct with my deduction on what was going on. The true motivations of Julia visiting Grant were very much far from my theories and I felt a bit of a fool for not seeing some of the clues presented earlier on. Yet, I was so far off the mark on my assumptions, I felt slightly let down. (Trying very much not to go into spoiler territory here). If I were to say anything, it would be “stay tuned till after the credits”. Once you get to the end you will know what I mean.
Eight Detectives’ and Alex Pavesi have been compared to Agatha Christie and though I admit to having only watched Murder on The Orient Express, along with the BBC Christmas specials, I can see why this comparison is more than warranted. This is a book that both pays homage to Christie and still keep its own identity. I more than recommend this book to those readers who love a good mystery and want to find a new voice in the genre. Now, the waiting for the next book and what it brings forth.