The Eighth Detective

by Alex Pavesi

Author Alex Pavesi has blended the classic with the experimental in THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE.  His novel nests a series of mystery stories inside a mystery inside another mystery.

First we have Julia Hart, who has flown from Edinburgh to a Mediterranean island to meet Grant McAllister.
She is an editor with Blood Type Books, which is interested in reprinting a book of short, detective stories he wrote 25 years earlier.

Or is she?

McAllister, like his creator Pavesi, is a mathematician.  He wrote a research paper “examining the mathematical structure of murder mysteries. I called it ‘The Permutations of Detective Fiction.'”

As he and Julia discuss the stories, he points out that all detective fiction has to have victims, killers, suspects and detectives. But the characters in a story can have multiple roles: Detectives can be killers; suspects can be victims; and even victims can be killers, if you include suicide. The short stories McAllister wrote illustrate the various permutations he has identified.

But is he the author?

Many of these stories sound familiar, almost as if Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers or any other Golden Age of Detective Fiction author wrote them, but with McAllister’s variations they are twisted and startling. The intersection of Julia’s and McAllister’s stories adds additional layers of mystery to THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE.

If you like puzzle mysteries — ones where theoretically you could figure out “who dunnit” before the detective does — or riffs on those mysteries such as Anthony Horowitz’s MAGPIE MURDERS, you’ll enjoy this book.

It’s not so classic as to be boring, nor so experimental as to be baffling.

Take note to be patient because the novel initially appears to be a series of short stories before the overarching story of Julia and McAllister is developed.

About the Author: Alex Pavesi

Like author Lewis Carroll, Alex Pavesi is a mathematician as well as a novelist. He once sold books for Waterstones in England.  Now he works as a software engineer for Microsoft in London when he’s not writing. THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE is his first novel.

Pavesi told Daryl Maxwell of the LAPL Blog that his novel combines classic detective fiction and experimental narrative structures, two things that fascinate him. He has been inspired by the film “Clue,” with its three endings, and director Quentin Tarantino’s early films that tell their stories outside of chronological order.

He’s currently working on a second novel that also involves reimagining the Golden Age detective story, although it’s much different than THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE.


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