The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry


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.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: March 28, 2009 at Semicolon

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