The Manual of Detection
By, Jedediah Berry
2009, The Penguin Press
There are plenty of hardboiled detective novels on the market with more coming out every day. But with his debut novel, The Manual of Detection, Jedediah Berry charts his own course with a unique twist on the classic detective mystery. For starters, it is told from the point of view of Charles Unwin – a clerk to a famous detective – who is promoted to detective against his own wishes. While he doesn’t come right out and describe the world that Unwin exists in, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the world that we know. It is more like film noir in an alternate universe. It felt as though Mickey Spillane met the Mad Hatter in a Quentin Tarantino production. Needless to say, this isn’t your normal, everyday crime story. However, while its quirkiness will scare some readers away, I found that Berry’s writing made the journey very appealing. His language creates vivid images and his characters are well developed and easy to become attached to. It is very easy for the reader to become Charles Unwin and the story moves along at a nice, quick pace. As I said, this story is not going to appeal to everyone and I wouldn’t want to read a steady diet of these kinds of mind-bending stories, but it was fun to experience something quite unique and considering this was a debut novel, I think it is an example of an amazing writing talent. Jedediah Berry is certainly an author to keep an eye on in the future.
One final note, the hardcover book is beautiful and doesn’t have a dust cover. Instead, all of the art is printed right on the cover and looks and feels beautiful. I hope that this is something we see more of from the publishing industry in the future.
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