Published by Michael Joseph on August 20th 2020
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, probing inside it.
But as she reads the stories, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are parts that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder.
One that’s remained unsolved for thirty years . . .
If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary.
But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .
Julia Hart has travelled to a quiet Mediterranean island to the home of mathematician and one time author Grant McAlllister. She wants to re-publish ‘The White Murders’, a book of short stories he wrote some years ago, which uses the stories to look at how ‘mathematically’ a story can be classed as a murder mystery.
Eight Detectives is cleverly structured by interspersing the short stories, from Grant McAllister’s book, with the conversations and discussions between Julia and Grant as she visits daily at his cottage, to discuss the book and it’s re-release.
This book caught me out somewhat by starting straight off with one of the short stories and it took me a while to figure out what exactly was happening. Clearly far to clever for me! At the end of each of The White Murder stories, Julia picks out a number of inconsistencies within it’s narrative. I can’t remember at what point I realised what was happening, but as she continues to notice these issues and brings up a possible link to an old real life crime the penny dropped and I realised there was something more to discover from these two meeting.
I enjoyed the short stories. A date isn’t mentioned but they all have a very strong golden age crime feel to them, in fact one, based on a favourite of McAllister’s, has a strong Agatha Christie resemblance to it. They are all different from each other and made for a very complex and detailed group of stories. As I became accustomed to Julia pin pointing the discrepancies I concentrated even more to see if I could figure them out before she did.
I did find the conversations between Julia and Grant a little repetitive, his reluctance to answer her questions annoyed me somewhat as it didn’t seem to move the book forward and as you don’t know anything about these two characters for a lot of the book I wasn’t finding that I had warmed to them. However, and without giving too much away, the later part of the book changed things completely. I became much more invested in Julia and Grant and the new track the story took had me hooked. A clever ending.
If you like golden age crime but would enjoy a new spin on it. This is a book for you.
A twist, within a story, within a book!!