The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

A mystery within a conundrum inside an enigma, this is a not-to-be-missed whodunit of classic form with a highly intelligent quantum improvement on the genre.
The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi
Henry Holt
Hardcover | $26.99

As murder mysteries go, this is one for the ages. If Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Dashiell Hammett were projected into the 21st century, they might be able to come up, collectively, with something like this. Maybe. It is unlike any whodunit I’ve read, even though it delves into all the ingredients that contribute to making a classic one. It’s even an intellectual examination of the structure of the genre using mathematics to codify the result. Astonishing.


Employing the conceit of an editor interviewing an author about a book written decades ago with the idea of publishing it now, the reader is presented with seven short stories which illustrate the variety of constructions a classic mystery may take. There may be differences in the number and nature of four principal factors: suspect(s), victim(s), detective(s) and killer(s). These may overlap and it is shown how this may be achieved. It is a quite brilliant exposition of the form and amazingly inventive in its unfolding. As an intriguing addition to the tapestry, the young editor discovers and subsequently discusses with the author discrepancies, conundrums and downright errors that occur in the text which begin to reveal things about the author that grow increasingly sinister as the narrative progresses. A mystery within a mystery within many mysteries.


This is a work that lovers of the genre should not, by any means, neglect. It is a work of art that should cement the author in the ranks of hallowed writers of crime fiction. I recommend it with the greatest of enthusiasm.