Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Manual Of Detection", by Jedediah Berry

The Manual Of Detection by Jedediah Berry

This will be an enjoyable and depressing read.
I will recall having picked this book up because it had a cool cover with a gold embossed old-looking illustration of an eye. The back cover shows the eye again and below it the phrase “Never Sleeping”.

The inside back page says “In This Tightly Plotted Yet Mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must tangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams”.

I will begin reading this book with the unsettling worry & suspicion that it will be ripping off a lot of ideas I have been developing myself. I will shake off the suspicion part, but will still worry that it has somehow beaten me to the punch, and likely done it better than I could have

Within the first few chapters I’ll find the book to be witty and snappily written. There will be some well constructed details and the entire opening set-piece will draw me into the story pretty quickly. I’ll probably then put the book down for a few days and not touch it.

I’ll find the novel’s protagonist (if there is one) to be a bit of a cipher, lacking true character attributes or flaws, and will wonder if the author is going to get around to fleshing him/her/it out or just leave him/her/it that way- perhaps intentionally. There will be some very cool plot ideas and very cool ideas about dreamscapes and detectivery. I’ll wish that the cover looked a bit more oldey-time and unpolished, as opposed to the slick Adobe Illustrator-ish details that run along its edges.

I’ll probably wish for a few more female characters to be in there, as I’ll want my wife to read the book as well, but will know she’ll likely find it boring.
I’m not sure, but I think I will probably find the climax a bit underwhelming, and might not fully connect with the characters, but will find enough details, ideas, mood, and atmosphere to keep me pretty engaged with it all.

At the end I’ll happily recommend the book to people who like steampunk, offbeat science fiction, British comedies, and soup.

And I’ll be a little pissed off that he wrote something similar to some ideas I’ve been working on, and did a pretty darned good job of it.


This preview was 94% accurate

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