The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

manual-of-detectionThe Manual of Detection: A Novel by Jedediah Berry (The Penguin Press, February 19, 2009) 288 pages

Set in an unidentified city, in an unidentified time, (although I vaguely sensed a UK vibe, perhaps because it’s always raining?), The Manual of Detection focuses on Charles Unwin, longtime clerk at the Agency, who is inexplicably promoted to detective and, without training or a word of direction, handed a thin guidebook, The Manual of Detection, and sent into the field — he’s not even told what case he should be working on. He’s given his own office, a secretary, and a pistol. Unwin quickly learns that his new position used to belong to the detective he’s been the sole clerk for for “twenty years, seven months, and some-odd days.” But apparently the Agency’s star detective Travis T. Sivart is missing.

It’s filled with Unwin’s reminiscences of old major cases and a fair dose of action, but this is not your everyday detective story.

Partway through the book, Berry tilts the world on its axis — in a surrealist, Escher-esque? Dada-esque? manner.

It’s not the best book I’ve read this year, but it is interesting, fun, and quick. Witty. Love it.

This is Berry’s debut novel. The book’s flash-based website, which contains an excerpt of the book.

Berry (that’s a Twitter link) is assistant editor at Small Beer Press.

Other reviews:


8 responses to “The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

  1. Fun review…makes me interested to see if I would like to read it or not!!

  2. Sounds pretty good – I look forward to reading it.

  3. I find the premise fascinating and I am really looking forward to reading it!

  4. I look forward to hearing what you (all) think!

  5. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

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

  7. Hmmm…. sounds interesting. Not like anything I think I have read before.

  8. Pingback: My best 2009 reads « Word Lily

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