Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Lest details be mistaken for clues, note that Mr. Charles Unwin ... rode his bicycle to work every day, even when it was raining."

The summary on the back of Jedediah Berry's The Manual of Detection is longer than the average blurb. This is because this is a complex story that is difficult to summarize in a way that makes it sound as interesting and unique as it really is. Here's my attempt --

Charles Unwin works in a detective agency that has a unique hierarchy of clerks, detectives and watchers -- each assigned into a crime-solving trio and yet never meeting in person. All communication is passed between the team members by messenger. One day, Unwin is approached by a detective who tells him that he has been promoted to detective and hands him a book, The Manual of Detection. He knows that his detective, Travis Sivart, has recently gone missing and so as his first (and hopefully last) task of detection, he decides to find Sivart (a man he has never seen) so that Unwin can return to his clerking job. In the course of his task, he meets many people -- some helpful, some harmful and some dead.

The most perilous thing in my latest R.I.P. Challenge read is the femme fatale -- well, that and the separated conjoined twins who like to kill people. This story has a lot in common with old hard-boiled detective novels but it's set in a world of rogue circus folk, mind control and dream stealing. There are many fascinating (though somewhat one-dimensional) characters and the story is a real page-turner. This book has a complexity that makes it interesting but also a simplicity that makes it compelling. This is definitely a book that will offer up something different each time you read it and I plan on reading it more than once.

Folding myself a tin foil hat,

Support our site and buy The Manual of Detection on Amazon or find it at your local library. We bought our copy of this book.


  1. I have this in my pile too. Sounds fun! I saw it somewhere on a best book of 2009 list.

  2. This sounds like another great read. Thanks for the review!
    Big Hugs, Bethxx

  3. I really enjoyed this one when I read it earlier this year. Not perfect, but definitely a fun read.

  4. What an interesting concept! I'll have to see if my library has this one. Another RIP read to squeeze in before Halloween ;)

  5. Lenore - It really was fun.

    Scattie - Thanks!

    Wordlily - Yes. I will be interested to see what Berry writes next.

    Saveophelia - I think you would like this one!