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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Corpse Reader
This novel follows the life of Ci Song (or Song Ci), in thirteenth century China. When we first meet Ci, he is a young man who regrets the fact his father has left the capital city of Lin'an for the village, where he finds himself at the mercy of a bullying elder brother with no respect for learning. Through a series of tragedies Ci becomes a fugitive and finds himself...
Published 20 months ago by S Riaz

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Educational
To start with you feel sorry for Ci, then you get bored of feeling sorry for Ci, then things get interesting and then we see what Ci is made of. Although it's a story, it's based on real life and as such is really interesting to see how forensics have progressed from Ci in China in the 13th century (or whenever) to now. It is no wonder he is believed to be the father of...
Published 17 months ago by Soggy in Wisbech


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Corpse Reader, 3 May 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Paperback)
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This novel follows the life of Ci Song (or Song Ci), in thirteenth century China. When we first meet Ci, he is a young man who regrets the fact his father has left the capital city of Lin'an for the village, where he finds himself at the mercy of a bullying elder brother with no respect for learning. Through a series of tragedies Ci becomes a fugitive and finds himself on the run with his sickly little sister, Third. His ambition is to return to the Ming Academy, but he is an outcast with no prospects and is responsible for a seriously ill child. Ci has a gift to 'read' bodies, and an inability to feel pain, which results in his eventually being given a chance to become a scholar again. However, his life has many ups and downs, with all manner of betrayals, difficulties and loss to endure before the end of this novel. During his adventures he travels across the country by barge, works as a gravedigger, meets up with a con man, is resented, betrayed and cheated.

Although this is a mystery, there is much more to the book than just the crimes he is sent to investigate. More than half the book is taken up with Ci's life story before he is ordered to the Imperial Court, to find the murderer of several horribly mutilated bodies. If you are looking for a book with an unusual storyline and setting, which examines the life of this incredible young man who became the first ever forensic science expert, then you will enjoy this novel. It is amazing to think that even though Song Ci died in 1249, some of his innovations are still in use today and he completed the first scientific treatise on forensics in history. This really is an original read and I hope, with Song Ci being a young man at the end of this novel, that he will have more adventures in the future - this is calling out for a sequel.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C.S.I. - 13th Century Chinese Style, 25 Mar 2013
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Paperback)
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Antonio Garrido has here made a gripping historical thriller incorporating real and fictional people. Based on the legendary Song Ci (or Ci Song if you write his name in our language) the creator of the 'Hsi Yuan Lu Hsiang I', which is really the world's first forensics manual as such. With novels and tv dramatisations of crimes being solved with forensics it is sometimes forgotten that this isn't that new an idea, although technology has now progressed and it is universally accepted.

The real Song Ci I don't believe much biographical information is available, so because of that the earlier part of his life is here fictionalised. Here we see Ci start off his life not too badly, but things take a sudden change with the death of a relative, and then other tragedies hit the family. Ultimately left to bring up his sickly younger sister Ci's life seems to have taken a drastic turn for the worse, with him having to abandon his ambitions, and finding that he is a fugitive. We follow him through his ups and downs, and when he is asked to look at a dead body by order of the Emperor he finds himself embroiled with the Imperial Court and its life.

This is well researched, bringing to life the 13th Century of China under the Tsong Dynasty, where the country is under attack from the North. If you are thinking that this is just another historical crime thriller though, you would be wrong. This story as such can be seen as a series of parts. Firstly you have the part with Ci growing up and caring for his little sister, which takes in some adventure, then followed by his being called in to look at a dead body. This in itself leads to other horrific deaths and Ci becoming caught up in the subtleties of court life, and then a part which is more like a courtroom drama. With so much happening this story pulls you in and holds your attention to the final page. With horrific murders, intrigues, obfuscation, rivalry, manipulation and greed there is a lot going on here that makes this great reading for those looking for something to get their teeth into.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pacy, exciting and fascinating book, 7 May 2013
By 
Sue Bentley (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Paperback)
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This is the story of Ci, a young man living in 13th century China. We first meet him living in poverty and discomfort in his brother's house, being bullied and tormented by his brother and longing to return to the city of Fujian. Because of the consumate skill of Antonio Garrido we are given a complete sketch of his early life, a vivid picture of his family and a dark, deep and edgy view of his present situation in the first chapter. I don't really know how Garrido does it but not once in this big, densely packed story do we get bogged down in tedious detail or explanations. Everything flows naturally from the thoughts and actions of Ci.

There is a LOT in this story, but it is tightly structured and carefully disciplined so that it never rambles. I would be hard-pressed to edit a single word out as nothing is superfluous yet it is so easy to read. So easy in fact that I wandered from living room to kichen still reading, I propped it up on the counter while I made tea, still reading. I read it instead of gardening, instead of conversation, I would have took it to work but I didn't dare as it would have pulled me back into those vivid, Chinese images. The book is full of beautiful and terible pictures all painted with words.

The court scene is brilliant, the tension is palpable and exciting and unlike many books with crime and punishment as a theme, you have no idea how it will turn out until the plot twists and sways its way to an unexpected conclusion.

Even the occasional sex scenes are brilliantly written, so many historical novelists seem to flounder badly once the bedroom door closes but Garrido does a great job there too.

If you like historical novels you will love this, if you like biography you will love this, and if you are a fan of CSI you will adore this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Educational, 4 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Kindle Edition)
To start with you feel sorry for Ci, then you get bored of feeling sorry for Ci, then things get interesting and then we see what Ci is made of. Although it's a story, it's based on real life and as such is really interesting to see how forensics have progressed from Ci in China in the 13th century (or whenever) to now. It is no wonder he is believed to be the father of forensics. It is a good story and the second half is much better so please get through the first half to get to the real story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, but not for me, 27 July 2014
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Kindle Edition)
I realise I am swimming against the tide here, but I thought this was a great book that had been smothered inside something really quite poor. The main character was possibly meant to be naive or too trusting, but in the end I got tired of 'everyone was against him/couldn't be trusted' as well as getting jaded with the never-ending series of disasters that he came up against - the catastrophes (largely of the character's own making) occurred just a bit too often for me.
The forensics and the descriptions of China were largely okay, but my antipathy towards the main character made me eager to be rid of the book. The writing was very simple (it read at times like a children's story book, apart from the number of dead bodies...) but that may be the translation and there were too many deus ex machina for my taste. Despite the unending stream of catastrophes, I didn't find much tension in the book.

Apologies if you really loved it. It did nothing for me at all and I was heartily glad to be done with it. I have left reviews before where I have disliked a book and then been slammed by someone else who has adored it, so I am now far more hesitant to leave a bad review (which makes me wonder if others are too? The reviews on Goodreads for this are slightly more evenly split between those who love it and those who don't).
If you loved it - great - everyone has their own tastes. This was not to mine, for the reasons outlined, but please do not post diatribes against me because I don't like what you like. Thank you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account, 30 May 2013
This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Paperback)
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This book was wonderful, so different to anything I've ever read before. Think of it more like a biography of Song Ci, rather than an outright mystery/crime book, although there are details of mysteries and crimes within.

It is set in medieval China, an era and place I am not too familiar with, but the book seemed to be researched very well as far as I could tell. There was nothing that jolted me out of the story for being too modern or not suited to the place. I loved finding out about all the different customs, such as why children's jackets had five buttons, and how many times you should refuse a gift before accepting it graciously. There were lots of little details like that which made the story come vividly to life.

In the first half of the book, poor Ci goes through as almost as many trials as Job, he suffers betrayals, humiliations, beatings, robbery and more as he tries desperately to enter the university and better his lot. He does finally get accepted at the university, but at great personal cost.

The second half of the book is when Ci attracts the attention of the emperor and is asked to help solve some gruesome murders and the pace picks up quite a bit after that, but I wouldn't have said the first half was slow either, but just more sedate at times.

There are some violent moments in the book, as well as detailed descriptions of corpses and their injuries, not one for the squeamish, but you couldn't really have a book about a corpse reader without it.

It was a very interesting read with some fascinating facts on historical crime-solving and medieval China.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great find!, 9 Sep 2014
By 
Loppylou (East Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Kindle Edition)
This was such a great read on so many different levels primarily because there was so much going on. Sometimes so much content can be confusing and unnecessary but not here. Every aspect of this intricately woven story served a purpose and everything was held tightly together by the fascinating protagonist Ci. The characters featured in The Corpse Reader were exceptional and the twists and turns in the plot just kept coming so it genuinely kept you guessing right until the very end as to who was responsible for what. As the reader I felt i was simultaneously working with Ci to discover the truth - an addictive feature of the book!

I will admit that my knowledge of 13th century China was zero and was not actually the pull that made me download this book and if I'm truthful it almost put me off! I am so glad the idea of ancient forensics and how it apparently all began was strong enough for me to give it a go. I was not disappointed and I was pleased that again, all of the investigations and all of the forensics were not gratuitous or over indulged it all seemed relevant to moving the plot along and adding to the mystery and tension. Surprisingly, the highlight of the novel was actually the setting in China and the different class settings in the era. It made for a genuinely unique novel which has left me intrigued about ancient China and wanting to read more.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Written with an eye to the movie rights., 1 Dec 2013
By 
J. F. Kantor "Jim" (Mortain, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Kindle Edition)
The Protagonist should be dead. Beaten, burned, stabbed, half drowned in an endless, tiresome procession of unbelievable events. This is the equivalent of buying a really poor DVD that appears to offer some historical perspective on some subject or other but turns out to be toe-curling scene after scene of awful choreographed martial arts moves. A shame really because the level of research required to give factual perspective on the history of forensics is impressive and would have been better served with a believable story line.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 25 Mar 2014
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This is a great read.....any more coming from Antonio Garrido? I have also read his 'The Scribe' - equally brilliant....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most original novels I've ever read, 27 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Corpse Reader (Kindle Edition)
What a refreshing read! Well-written and thoroughly original storyline. Everyone should read this, as the author deserves success. Have since also read Antonio Garrido's 'The Scribe' which is almost as good. Will watch closely for any additional works from now on. Very, very highly recommended to all who want to escape pulp fiction.
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The Corpse Reader
The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido (Paperback - 28 May 2013)
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