17 June 2009
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry is a strange little mystery. Charles Unwin is a clerk in an unknown city where it always seems to rain. He works for a place called The Agency, which seems to be the only source of law and order, and writes reports for Detective Travis Sivart. Unwin is a lonely, lost soul at the beginning of the novel.
The Agency seems to be some sort of spy ring as well as Unwin worries at the beginning he'll get in trouble for going out of his normal routine. He saw a beautiful woman one day and every morning for the previous few weeks he goes to the same train station to see her again. One day a man approaches Unwin, says that Unwin has been promoted to Detective and gives him The Manual of Detection, a book that The Agency uses to train the detectives. Unwin knows this promotion must be some mistake and begins searching for Sivart so Unwin can go back to being his clerk. Unfortunately, Unwin almost immediately discovers a murder in The Agency itself!
The book takes some strange turns. Unwin meets some bizarre people: his secretary Emily who has narcolepsy and carries a lunchbox all the time, Moore, a security guard at a museum who is always muttering about needing to forget, the Rooks, twin brother bad guys and Cleo Greenwood, the femme fatale who makes people fall asleep with her voice. The whole dreaminess was strange to read about but became very cool. Also, I finally got some symbolism! Unwin- doesn't mean to lose, it means that a perceived win was taken away. Sivart and then Unwin discover that some of Sivart's triumphs were not so. His wins over his adversaries are all undone.
I liked it. It is a 6. it was a little bit hard to get in because of the atmosphere and it is a book you have to pay attention too. It was impossible to try to read at work.
Other ideas: Fantasy Book Critic, Word Lily, Next Read, and Reader's Journal.