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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #749

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 8:05am by muffy

eighth_detectiveFans of Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz and Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson would not want to miss The Eighth Detective, * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by mathematician and first-time novelist Alex Pavesi

London book editor Julia Hart arrives on a remote Mediterranean island to work on reissuing The White Murders,  a series of detective stories self-published in the early 1940s, that were based on a 1937 paper by mathematics professor Grant McAllister, entitled “The Permutations of Detective Fiction,”  - on the mathematical structure of murder mysteries and the specific criteria that must be met.

Grant, now a recluse explains the "rules" of whodunits - there must be a victim or victims, one or more suspects, one or more detectives, etc. The seven stories in the book, variations of the "locked-room mystery ",  illustrate permutations made possible by changing the mix of these character types. As sharp-eyed Julia goes through the stories with Grant, she notices inconsistencies; and the collection's title echoes an unsolved crime at the time the book was first published.  She begins to suspect these might be clues to another bigger mystery  - Grant himself. 

“Pavesi clearly knows his classic murder mysteries, as shown by a story that evokes Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, and all his plot tricks will please readers with a similar passion. “ (Publishers Weekly) 

“Enclosing all the stories like a Russian doll is the question of why the editor visits the author at all. But both hold back secret motivations that drive the grand plot... A satisfying mystery for the casual reader, even more so for the careful one.”(Kirkus Reviews)

* = Starred review

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