Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Manual of Detection: Jedediah Berry

My son bought this book at the book sale last year. We both read it recently, and we both enjoyed it. But it is very hard to describe. It is very, very odd.

Charles Unwin works in a large organization, each department having one function (detecting, clerking, watching, archives, etc.). Unwin is a clerk to a detective, Travis Sivart, that he has never met. He reads the detective's reports on cases, researches them, and edits them before filing them away. Two of the well-known cases are titled "The Oldest Murdered Man" and "The Man Who Stole November Twelfth." One day, out of the blue, Unwin is promoted and he discovers that Sivart is missing. He begins pursuing the case of the missing detective, and finds out more about the huge detective agency he works for than he ever wanted to know.


In many ways this book was perfect for me. It mixes both mystery and fantasy, the story is dark but with a good bit of humor, and I liked the ending. I also liked the plethora of female characters. Some were evil, some were good, and some were a mix, and I never was sure which was which and what their motivations were. At times it seemed like an espionage story, where you never know who to trust.

There were a few detractions. At times I was frustrated with this book, at times I had trouble keeping track of the characters, and most if the time I had no idea where the book was going, but at all times I enjoyed reading it. So it was a winner for me.

Other resources:


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Publisher:  Penguin Books, 2010 (orig. pub. 2009). 
Length:     278 pages
Format:     Trade Paperback
Setting:     An unnamed city
Genre:      Mystery / Fantasy
Source:     Borrowed from my son.



10 comments:

  1. I remember losing patience and giving up on it. Perhaps I was too hasty.

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    1. There were many readers who did not care for this, Patti. I found it worth finishing and I liked the ending, but I can understand the various takes on the book.

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  2. It certainly sounds like an unusual story, Tracy (and I mean that in a good way). It's an interesting premise for a novel, too, although I can see how you might get a little frustrated with keeping track of the characters. Still, sounds like an interesting novel...

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    1. One of the themes here was dreams and the setting was dreamlike, Margot. Very strange. But my real gauge of a story, long or short, is how much I enjoy reading it, even if a book is outside of my normal reading. This one worked for me.

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  3. Sounds interesting, if a bit difficult. I often miss the list of characters in the older mystery books. Seems this could have used one.

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    1. That is a perfect description, Rick, interesting but difficult. And a list of characters with a brief description would have helped for sure.

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  4. You know I'm drawn to "very, very odd" books, Tracy, but you may also know I get frustrated sometimes keeping track of the blizzard of characters some authors like to sprinkle into their tales. And I'm not a fan of fantasy, unless it's satiric or comical. Dunno about this one. I'll definitely check Amazon to see if there's a Kindle version.

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    1. That is true, Mathew, you do like odd books, but if you don't like fantasy, this may not be the book for you. I don't want to steer you in the wrong direction.

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    2. The Kindle version is too expensive for my wallet right now, Tracy, but I'm still interested in reading Manual of Detection. I'll wait for the price to come down a tad!

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    3. I am not surprised that the ebook is too expensive, Mathew. I have a limit I will pay for ebooks because I don't enjoy reading books that way, but I am stocking up more when I see good deals in expectation of reading more in ebook format once I retire.

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