...[a] unique brainteaser of a mystery novel ... The tales are elegant equations, clever variations on classic 'Golden Age' setups: the locked-room murder mystery; the case of the detective-as-killer ... Julia suspects the stories may also be, in hidden ways, autobiographical—even confessional. Why are there seeming errors in certain descriptive passages? Are these intentional clues, pointing to alternate interpretations and solutions? The editor starts imagining variations on the author’s stories. In time, there are enough forking paths in evidence to intrigue a reader of Borges ... Mr. Pavesi, himself a trained mathematician, has created something new under the sun: a book of clever mystery puzzles (with mordant noir endings), a challenging exercise in deconstruction—and one of the most innovative works in recent memory.
... a cerebral box of delights ... The reader understands that the book is a meta-story about the nature of mystery writing itself, but it’s a sign of Pavesi’s skill that we fall headlong into each of his stories. If that means we’re pawns in his grand chess game, so be it. His revelations are completely unexpected, right up to the end.
As I began The Eighth Detective Alex Pavesi’s debut novel, it immediately became clear that I was in new, undiscovered territory, experiencing a story far different from the traditional mysteries that I normally read and enjoy. Many will recognize it as an English mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. Only two characters occupy the book’s pages, but Pavesi presents readers with a remarkable puzzle that requires explanation and thought. It is mystery fiction in a unique, clever and captivating form. Prepare yourself for an original and exceptional reading experience ... While The Eighth Detective purports to be a novel describing the formula for creating a mystery, never for one moment does it conform to that formula. Pavesi seems willing to break several traditional mystery norms in this exciting first effort, and we await future books with great anticipation.
The chapters of The Eighth Detective containing the conversations between Julia and her host are the most interesting, as this is where it dawns on Julia and the reader that there may indeed be another and quite different game afoot. The sense that something is amiss slowly becomes palpable ... This frame-tale is what makes the book engaging and interesting because the seven detective stories themselves, although set in a wide array of inventive settings and circumstances, feel lengthy and over-stuffed with characters, clues and alibis – possibly because Pavesi views his job as only to craft stories that embody the elementary mathematical rules ... It's an open question as to the value of worrying about how strictly to define a genre. Maybe we simply know it when we see it; maybe such pigeon-holing doesn't matter. Still, the value of The Eighth Detective is found in its inventive premise and the layered and meta-friendly structure within which Pavesi's protagonist posits the mathematical permutations of 'detective fiction' ... Murder most factorial.
...[an] inventive debut ... As the tales within a tale unfold, readers are treated to wonderful mini-mysteries that are interspersed with the author and editor’s conversations and followed by Hart’s ingenious sleuthing into Grant’s background and the truth behind The White Murders. Pavesi’s language immerses readers in mid-twentieth-century England and in the struggles, cruelties, and oddities of his multitude of carefully portrayed characters. Give this atmospheric puzzle to fans of short stories and of the American Mystery Classics series.
Mathematician and first-time novelist Pavesi creates a metamystery that could as easily go in a bookstore’s puzzle section as on the crime shelves ... The book abounds with complications and twists, and puzzle lovers will have fun predicting the endings of the stories ... A satisfying mystery for the casual reader, even more so for the careful one.
Pavesi’s cerebral debut blends a mystery with an academic discussion of the mystery genre ... 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. Some may be put off by the lack of emotional depth and an overly long denouement that serves chiefly to illustrate the author’s cleverness. Whatever one’s take on this ingenious if schematic novel, Pavesi is a writer to watch.