Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

Author : Alex Pavesi
Title : Eight Detectives
Pages : 340
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin
Publication date : August 20, 2020


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, keen to understand it.

But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.

Julia realises she’s unwittingly entered a battle of wits where there can only be one winner. But Grant will soon realise that he underestimates her at his peril.


Eight Detectives was one of those books that almost made me burst with excitement the minute it was announced. And so it shot its way right up my “most anticipated books of the year” list and I patiently awaited publication day. Naturally, I dropped everything I was doing when my copy landed on my doorstep and I dove right in.

So imagine my disappointment when after 100 pages, it still wasn’t quite grabbing me. This is one of those instances where I felt some parts worked really well, but as a whole it just didn’t come together. The parts that absolutely work are the short stories that are spread out throughout the book. My favourite was an abundantly clear Agatha Christie rip-off but I’m going to assume it was supposed to be obvious. For reasons, I guess. All the stories had that golden age of crime fiction feel to it. So while I enjoyed those stories, they also made me think I might as well just be reading Christie’s books instead.

According to elusive professor/author Grant McAllister, crime fiction novels follow a simple set of mathematical rules. Thirty years ago, he sat down and worked them all out. Now his earlier work is being republished and editor, Julia Hart, travels to the secluded island where McAllister has been living. But Julia soon realises there are things about the short stories that don’t quite add up. Could they hold intricate clues about a murder case that was never solved?

Unique and refreshing way to possibly solve a cold case? Absolutely yes! If nothing else, the premise was definitely extremely intriguing. The rules are fairly basic and easy to follow. Obviously, there needs to be a murder, a killer, a suspect and a detective in all its various permutations. I loved seeing those being brought to life through the short stories, even if McAllister’s explanations sometimes completely lost me. I never was good at mathematics.

Despite the brilliant writing and the potential of an excellent plot, something remained missing for me throughout the entire book though. I can’t even explain what it is but it felt as if the story never really picked up. The characters left me completely cold and since I, as the reader, had little information about the murder from thirty years ago, finding the clues in the short stories was almost impossible.

So, no, Eight Detectives unfortunately didn’t entirely work for me. But I can absolutely see this book appeal to many other readers, and it has done as it looks like I might be somewhat in the minority with my slightly unpopular opinion. In an odd sort of way, I’m glad I read it. I’m glad I was introduced to Alex Pavesi and despite my disappointment in this book, I will gladly pick up his next book when it comes.

Eight Detectives (The Eighth Detective in the US.) is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goldsboro | Hive UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

20 Books of Summer : 17/20

  16 comments for “Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

  1. August 25, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Fantastic review! Sorry it work for you. I read a review recently that made me think it was as mind bending as Evelyn Hardcastle, but maybe not!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. August 25, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Sorry to hear Eight Detectives didn’t quite grab you – I really enjoyed it but can also see where you’re coming from in the lack of info about the previous murder, meaning you can’t really try and solve the mystery as the reader!
    Hope your next read is amazing 🙂 Laura

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2020 at 11:31 am

      I can equally see why others really enjoyed it. I like playing detective, even though I’m awfully bad at it. 😄


  3. katewilson79
    August 25, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Great review – I’ll admit that I felt something similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2020 at 11:32 am

      I’m actually glad to hear that. It’s always such a nice feeling to know you’re not alone with your unpopular opinion.


  4. August 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    I’m sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations. I think I’d have a similar reaction if I couldn’t pick up any of the clues myself… definitely want to read it but I’m keeping my expectations low now! Great review Eva!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2020 at 11:33 am

      You should most definitely read it! It’s not a bad book. I truly hope you have a different experience than I did. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  5. August 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    I agree with what you say. I’ve just finished it and was disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2020 at 11:34 am

      Obviously sorry to hear you’re also disappointed, Nicola, but also not sorry because that means I’m not alone with my seemingly unpopular opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. August 25, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Sorry it didn’t quite work for you. I enjoyed it a lot. But you have your Goldsboro edition yes?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. August 25, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Thank goodness! FINALLY someone else who had the same experience of this book as me!
    You’ve expressed it really brilliantly here. It’s a fantastic premise and well written but it all feels a bit empty. I have my review going up later this week and was really worried as everyone else’s I’d read were total raves and I was starting to think it was just me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 26, 2020 at 11:40 am

      Oh, thank goodness, Claire! Thank you for this comment! I feel so much better now! We can be in the unpopular opinion club together. You bring the cake. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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