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THE EIGHTH CIRCLE (C2318)

2.2 (1826)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | THE EIGHTH CIRCLE (C2318).pdf | Language: UNKNOWN
    Stanley Ellin(Author)

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2.5 (7117)
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Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Stanley Ellin(Author)
  • Penguin; c2318 edition (1966)
  • Unknown
  • 5
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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Review Text

  • By John McNamee on August 31, 2017

    This book won the Edgar award in 1958. It shows its age but I enjoyed it. I would recommend it.

  • By ron hughes on February 15, 2018

    this book now sits on my shelf waiting for its turn to be read

  • By Kathryn R. Sullivan on October 28, 2009

    The first reading left me wondering why this was considered a masterwork. Months later I decided to read it a second time to determine why others liked it and I didn't. This novel has enough characters to rival a Tolstoy epic. Every character, minor as well as major, gets the chance to give a speech when participating in a scene much like a play by Shakespeare. In short this novel is pretentious. The research that was done to give the novel an air of authenticity is negated by the romance element that strained credulity. The two main female characters are sterotypes that are offensive. I had to keep reminding myself that Ellin wrote this novel in the fifties when this sort of thing was common in crime fiction. This novel is relevant if one wants to study what was enjoyable in the fifties. Today it shows its age.

  • By David R. Eastwood on July 4, 2014

    THE EIGHTH CIRCLE (1958) by Stanley Ellin (1916-1986) is a semi-successful Amalgam of three forms of fiction: (1) a Fair-Play Puzzle, (2) a Male Heroic-Erotic Fantasy, and (3) a Character Reformation Tale. It's as though Ellin decided to dice up puzzle parts from Rex Stout's or Agatha Christie's mysteries, then dice up male fantasy parts from Ian Fleming's James Bond Thrillers ... and then sprinkle these parts on to a plot that's a close facsimile of the one Charles Dickens used in GREAT EXPECTATIONS.The protagonist of THE EIGHTH CIRCLE is Murray Kirk, the head of a successful New York City detective agency. He is hired to help clear a policeman who has been accused of taking a bribe, but instead he wishes to find evidence proving that the policeman is guilty. Cynicism is part of the reason, but Kirk, who has been a womanizer into his mid-thirties, is smitten by the policeman's beautiful fiancée and wants her for himself ... and to accomplish that, he needs to break the couple up, an activity that is both unethical and unprofessional.During his investigation, like James Bond, Murray Kirk is beaten up and taken to the secluded mansion of a type of super-villain ... and then (bruised and battered) he sets out on a daring and dangerous night raid to get revenge ... and evidence. And when the super-villain comes to deal with Kirk ... well, read for yourself to see who gets the better of whom.Along the way, as evidence slowly accumulates, Kirk and we learn that some of his assumptions have been mistaken, and we readers are given a fair chance to piece things together for ourselves before Ellin or Kirk reveals the "solution." We're even given a chance to guess what Kirk will decide to do about his new material.Minor SPOILER #1: Near the ending a plot hole appears: to help Kirk resolve some major problems he's having with people in high places, a convenient case of murder suddenly comes to light. The murder, sad to say, is "solved" by some sleight of hand: instead of Kirk or his colleagues producing any solid evidence of anyone's guilt, the guilty person happens to come into a room and confesses.Minor SPOILERS #2 AND #3: Kirk, as readers will be genuinely delighted to see, ultimately "does the right thing" ethically and professionally. And shortly thereafter, like Pip in Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Kirk is almost magically rewarded for being good.A few other reviewers have criticized THE EIGHTH CIRCLE for being, among other things, often "pretentiously" written and often highly "implausible." I believe they are correct, with the latter fault being by far the more serious one. In my view, the two final scenes where Murray Kirk receives his "rewards" are the most preposterous in this novel, and the entire book would have been very greatly improved if they'd both been omitted.Yes, most of us know that THE EIGHTH CIRCLE won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery of 1958. Perhaps that says something about the quality of other mysteries published that year. Or perhaps it says something about the tastes of the judges of that year. Considering its faults and its strengths, if I were giving this book a letter grade, in my judgment it deserves only a "C+".

  • By James Tetreault on February 13, 2011

    I had no idea what to expect of this book. A few page in I thought it was going to be bone dry. But things picked up from there and the job Ellin does of fleshing out the various characters is excellent. Another reviewer says it's only a so-so murder mystery. But it's not a murder mystery at all. It's sort of a slice of life portrait of a real head of a detective agency and as a result of the man's occupation we see certain things. I also see this as a fascinating look at the mores of late 50's america. I could somehow see a lot of these people right alongside the characters in the film The Sweet Smell of Success, though without all the conspicuous drama. I would recommend this book to anyone.

  • By CrimeFictionBuff on August 19, 2005

    James Ellroy says somewhere, "the last time a private eye solved a murder was never". Ellin's underrated novel takes it's title from Dante's description of hell: the eighth circle of the inferno is where the lawyers, bribers, and toadies are. The great strength of this book is the real-life description of a detective agency. The author spent months researching the reality of private eyes, so his book does not perpetuate the Chandler-based myth. As a murder mystery THE EIGHTH CIRCLE is only so-so, but the rest is simply wonderful--it really places you in New York in the late 1950's. (The greatest Ellin is probably his short stories: try THE MOMENT OF DECISION.)

  • By X.L. on December 14, 2001

    Stanley Ellin won the Edgar Award for best novel for this book, and it's well deserved. The only word that comes to my mind to definite this is "perfection". Perfection in writing, plotting, characterization, atmosphere. "The Eighth Circle" is probably one of the best mystery novels ever written, and one of the most deserved Edgar-winners, with Charlotte Jay's "Beat Not The Bones", Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" - to name just two. Don't miss it! Like Nat King Cole would say, it's "unforgettable"...


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