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The Manual of Detection Hardcover – 5 Mar 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann; First Printing edition (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434019453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434019458
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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 clever, startlingly original blend of fantasy and crime." (Waterstone’s Books Quarterly)

"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." (Financial Times)

"'I was impressed, besotted, and transported by The Manual of Detection. Such a great book!'" (Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and Sister Noon)

Review

`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.'

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Charles Unwin is riding his bicycle to work. It is raining and he is happy that he has succeded in wedging his umbrella into the frame of his biycle in such a way that he is staying dry. You can't help caring about what happens to him.

Where is he? In an unnamed city - a little bit London, a little bit New York, maybe in the past, maybe in the future.

Where is he going? To work at a large, corporate detective agency. He is a clerk, processing and filing reports for the noted detective Travis Sivart.

But this is not going to be a normal day at work - anything but. With absolutely no warning he finds himself issued with the manual of detection and promoted to the role of detective. Sivart is missing and Unwin is to replace him.

Unwin knows nothing about being a detective though, and he has no wish to learn. All he wants is to go back to his quiet life as a clerk. And so he approaches the man who was Sivert's and in now his watcher. Trouble is, he has been shot. Unwin has no choice but to turn detective and track down Sivart so that things can go back to the way they were.

He meets people and visits places that he never knew existed, he learns that many of the facts of Sivart's cases may not be as he recorded in his files and it seems that there are more questions than answers. Ultimately, he will have to progress to the most dangerous and difficult part of detective work and enter the dreams of a sleeping city if he wants his life back.

All of this happens in a world which is both real and fantastical, but utterly believable.

The story unravels perfectly, told in clear and exact prose.

The Manual of Detection is an accomplished debut novel - both clever and engaging.
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Format: Paperback
Think Raymond Chandler mixed with Jasper Fforde and/or Flann O'Brien and set in a Kafkaesque world peopled with bizarre, eccentric and well realised characters including the 'evil genius' and the 'femme fatal'. 'The Manual of Detection' is clever, surreal and a lot of fun.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel reminds me a lot of Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil: a lowly clerk suddenly finds his world turned upside-down. A rather humdrum life has become a nightmare where nothing is as it seems: somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, between reality and something you know is a dream, a trip on LSD. Unwin is a clerk--one of many in a huge room--on the 14th floor of the Agency. On the 29th floor is the person he clerks for, Detective Sivart. On the 36th floor is the Watcher Lamech, who oversees Sivart, and well below Unwin are the underclerks. Communications are all done through messengers. For anyone--clerk, underclerk, detective, or watcher--to be on the wrong floor of the Agency is a terrible and unthinkable breech. Everything is regimented--very regimented. Then Unwin's regimented life takes an abrupt upheaval.

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).
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By Ancient Mariner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 July 2015
Format: Paperback
It's surreal, funny, endlessly clever and engaging. Detective fiction, and especially noir detective fiction, was made to be played with. It can survive parody, excess, clunkiness, hyper violence, cerebral navel gazing, fable, science fiction, eroticizing, memoir, high lit, pulp, low lit, slapstick, and true crime. It can certainly adapt to a little dada. And this isn't your father's dada. This is brisk, good humored and welcoming.
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