In this tightly plotted yet mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed with only an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people's dreams. In an unnamed city always slick with rain, Charles Unwin is a humble file clerk working for a huge and imperious detective agency, and all he ...
In this tightly plotted yet mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed with only an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people's dreams. In an unnamed city always slick with rain, Charles Unwin is a humble file clerk working for a huge and imperious detective agency, and all he knows about solving mysteries comes from filing reports for the illustrious investigator Travis Sivart. When Sivart goes missing, and his supervisor turns up murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted to detective, a rank for which he lacks both the skills and the stomach. His only guidance comes from his new assistant, who would be perfect if she weren't so sleepy, and from the pithy yet profound "Manual of Detection". Unwin mounts his search for Sivart, but is soon framed for murder, pursued by goons and gunmen, and confounded by the infamous femme fatale Cleo Greenwood. Meanwhile, strange and troubling questions proliferate: Why does the mummy at the Municipal Museum have modern-day dental work? Where have all the city's alarm clocks gone? Why is Unwin's copy of the Manual missing Chapter 18? When he discovers that the greatest of Sivart's cases - including 'The Three Deaths of Colonel Baker' and 'The Man who Stole the Twelfth of November' - were never solved correctly, he must enter the dreams of a murdered man and face a criminal mastermind bent on total control of a slumbering city. "The Manual of Detection" will draw comparison to every work of imaginative fiction that ever blew a reader's mind. But, ultimately, it defies comparison; it is a brilliantly conceived, meticulously realised novel that will change what you think about how you think.
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-03-30 Berry's debut novel stars Charles Unwin, a clerk for the famous detective Travis Sivart, whose own promotion to detective is followed by a series of bewildering events. Sivart goes missing, the supervisor of the detectives turns up dead and Unwin is left to solve the many mysteries. Pete Larkin is perfectly suited for this whimsical, Kafkaesque noir; his smooth and sympathetic narration makes the bizarre twists perfectly logical and sensible. He also provides homage to the hard-boiled staples: the seasoned detective, the naive but clever clerk, the eager assistant, the brutish thugs, the sinister mastermind and the femme fatale. The strength of the story and the talent of the reader mesh beautifully. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 8). (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-12-08 Set in an unnamed city, Berry's ambitious debut reverberates with echoes of Kafka and Paul Auster. Charles Unwin, a clerk who's toiled for years for the Pinkerton-like Agency, has meticulously catalogued the legendary cases of sleuth Travis Sivart. When Sivart disappears, Unwin, who's inexplicably promoted to the rank of detective, goes in search of him. While exploring the upper reaches of the Agency's labyrinthine headquarters, the paper pusher stumbles on a corpse. Aided by a narcoleptic assistant, he enters a surreal landscape where all the alarm clocks?have been stolen. In the course of his inquiries, Unwin is shattered to realize that some of Sivart's greatest triumphs were empty ones, that his hero didn't always come up with the correct solution. Even if the intriguing conceit doesn't fully work, this cerebral novel, with its sly winks at traditional whodunits and inspired portrait of the bureaucratic and paranoid Agency, will appeal to mystery readers and nongenre fans alike. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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