Grant McAllister is a retired mathematician living on a remote island in the Mediterranean. Over twenty years ago he wrote a collection of mystery stories and had a meager publishing of them. Julia Hart is an editor representing a small publisher who found a copy of the book and wants to republish the collection. She arranges a meeting and they read and discuss each story methodically, fitting them into his carefully designed mathematical theory of mystery construction.
I don’t want to say much more about the details of the story because it is as cleverly constructed as Grant’s theorem. It took a bit for this slow burn to consume me but when it did, I couldn’t let go. Each story in the collection is presented as if it’s the main one in the book, which initially felt confusing but quickly became something I avidly anticipated. Along the way, I started questioning a lot more than the stories and that was an extremely gradual development.
This is one of the most clever stories I’ve read in a long time and I love clever. It’s also a debut novel by the author and I’ll sign up for the next book he chooses to write and release. I wish I could share more but it would be much too spoilerish. It’s capped with a stunning ending that had me rewinding the audiobook to make certain I’d heard what I heard. And speaking of the audio format, the narrator was outstanding. She was not only responsible for distinctively giving voice to the two main characters but a host of others from the individual stories in the collection, which she handled excellently. This turned out to be a gem in the rough for me.
- Release Date: August 4, 2020
- Narrator: Emilia Fox
- Audio Length: 11 hours, 16 minutes
- Publisher: Macmillan Audio
- Alternate Title: “Eight Detectives”