Posts Tagged ‘detective fiction’
Berry, Jedediah. (2009) The Manual of Detection. Penguin Group. ISBN-10: 0143116517. Litland.com recommends ages 14+ and acceptable for advanced readers.
Charles Unwine is a reluctant hero. He wants nothing more than to return to his desk performing his clerical work. Instead, he is pushed forward seeking truth by an underlying thread of virtue in his otherwise feeble personality. And by the unfortunate incident of stumbling upon a corpse.
And so the story begins with this clerk at a detective agency suddenly being promoted to rank of detective himself. Left to investigate the past cases of his esteemed predecessor, Travis Sivart, the situation is hilarious because of Berry’s tongue-in-cheek treatment of the agency bureaucracy. We are captured into a surreal existence which at times is touched with a Dick Tracy style while remaining quite unique all its own. As the story progresses, its plot joins the realm of sci-fi espionage complete with dream spies. Yet it never runs out of speed, twists, and motion to hold reader interest.
Berry’s writing style is colorful and the humor never ends. Each of Sivart’s past cases has a hilarious title like The Man Who Stole November 12; its characters suffer narcolepsy while “coincidentally” the town’s alarm clocks disappear. The numerous characters intertwine as one sub-plot builds onto another. And the rich dialogue and narrative capture the reader into another world.
Honestly, I chose to read this book because its description used the word “gumshoe”. I figured any book with a gumshoe couldn’t be too profane. With only a few instances of mild profanity, no unnecessary sexuality or gore, this book is pure enjoyment. It is an optimistic portrayal of an underdog persevering to the end, relying upon his strengths and virtue to outsmart the bad guys. Yet the story is stylistically unique. Written to adults, it will also hold the imagination of teens and even younger advanced readers. Highly recommended for class, homeschooling, and family book clubs! Check out our review against character education guidelines and pick up your own copy in our bookstore!