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The Manual of Detection Paperback – 3 Jun 2010
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"Imaginative, fantastical, sometimes inexplicable, labyrinthine and ingenious...Great fun and very clever. My comparison? Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman - which is about as good as it gets" (Observer)
"A wryly cerebral take on noir fiction...Separated conjoined twin gangsters, a duplicitous femme fatale and a nightmarish carnival owner inhabit the nocturnal, rain-soaked city where this clever, postmodern detective story is set" (Financial Times)
"It is an elegant and stunningly imaginative fusion of detective and speculative fiction" (Guardian)
"The plot's bursting with as many twists and surprises as you could hope for...It steams along the smooth rails of Berry's neatly constructed sentences, barrelling round each well-cambered turn with barely a judder" (London Review of Books)
"Like Sin City, this is a noir fairytale, with the grey-scale, drizzly streets and shabby cafes contrasted by fluorescent, primary colour characters...Berry's work is reminiscent of the coolest young American novelists - Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Glen David Gold - in its sheer delight at how genre writing can be re-invigorated and re-imagined. The Manual of Detection makes the weird, fantastical world of the unconsciousness seem comically logical - like its subject, it is a dream" (Scotland on Sunday)
`A wryly cerebral take on noir fiction ... Separated conjoined twin gangsters, a duplicitous femme fatale and a nightmarish carnival owner inhabit the nocturnal, rain-soaked city where this clever, postmodern detective story is set.' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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Charles Unwin is a clerk, spending his days filing reports for Travis T Sivart, he doesn't have a clue about the mechanics of Sivart's job nor does he know the fate of the filed reports. When Sivart goes missing Unwin is promoted to Detective. Then his 'Watcher is murdered'. Unwin has an assistant who keeps falling asleep, his trusty umbrella (necessary as it is constantly raining) and the Manual of Detection. Wanted for murder and knowing nothing about the job of detective he somehow has to find Sivart and discover the identity of the real murderer. He gets caught up in Sivart's old cases along the way, 'The Oldest Murdered Man' and the 'Theft of November Twelfth". This is a story where dreams are infiltrated and sleepwalker's steal alarm clocks.
Each chapter is headed with a quote from 'The Manual of Detection' which definitely gave me pause for thought, for example: On Skulduggery 'If you are not setting a trap, then you are probably walking into one. It is the mark of the master to do both at once.'
This is crime fiction as you have never seen it before, I just hope that a second novel is on the way.
If you want something gripping, I'd suggest you reconsider.
Unwin is told that he's been promoted to Detective, and to move to Sivart's office on the 29th floor: Sivart has gone missing. Unwin reports to Sivart's boss, Watcher Lamech, only to find that Lamech has been murdered. So Unwin sets out to find Sivart, and you find yourself sucked into the whirlpool. Unwin meets the elusive Cleopatra Greenwood, Sivart's femme fatale (for lack of a more appropriate term for this very strange woman) and Sivart's archenemy Hoffman. The further you read, the more yu feel as though you've entered a hallucination. Everything is off-kilter: you enter a world of narcolepsy and somnambulism. Unwin follows somnambulists who go to the Cat & Tonic carrying bags of alarm clocks to gamble with. There's Caligari's Circus, taken over by Hoffman (Cleopatra Greenwood used to be a performer).
I don't think that there's any time in the novel where you have any idea at all what will happen next, but as things unfold they're either logically illogical or illogically logical--I think! If you like nice predictable novels, this definitely will not be your cup of LSD. This is very creative--bizarrely imaginative--and it had me turning quickly to Waitzkin's Attacking Chess and Guinn's new book on Bonnie and Clyde to try to unpretzel my mind. Think of the movie Brazil, or Jonathan Barnes' fine novel The Somnambulist, and toss in some LSD on top of those: a powerful and effective work!
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The book is even better (as quite often is the case...) and is a delight to read!
The best book I've read all year.