The Manual of Detection

Every now and then the system doesn’t forewarn you that an interesting book is coming. Instead, it arrives, unexpected, and you fall in love with it and with the surprise of it.  And suddenly you’re reminded, as a jaded old reviewer type, that all of this reading caper is still worth it.  A week or two ago Jedediah Berry contacted me to say he was getting a copy of his first novel, The Manual of Detection, sent out to me. It sounded pretty good, and I was pleased he’d done it because I’d read a story or two of his, and because I’d heard it was a pretty book. But I wasn’t enjoying reading much at the time, so didn’t think on it too hard.
Well, I came home Tuesday, tired and out sorts with the world, to find a package sitting on my desk here in the disaster zone we call my office.  Hmpph, I thought.  Another galley of some utterly avoidable book, most likely. But it wasn’t.  It was this really lovely dark green book with a big golden eye embossed on the cover. No dustjacket, but beautifully designed.  I was intrigued, but feeling jaded with reading (my adjustment to multifocal spectacle lenses is imperfect right now and reading has been hard, so I’m disenclined).  But there was rain, a city, an enormous Detective Agency that might have fallen out of Brasil, a mummy, a man on a bicycle, a mysterious woman.  I was intrigued. I was trapped. Suddenly I was sucked into the book, pulled forward by the story, cushioned by his writing.  I’m only half way through The Manual of Detection right now. It might fall apart. It might not. I don’t think it will. And now I wanted to know about “The Three Deaths of Colonel Baker” and “The Man Who Stole November Twelfth”.  I want Berry to promise to write stories for me from the casebooks of Charles Unwin and Travis T. Sivart, for I am lost and I am intrigued and I love his book quite a lot.

How much? Enough to tell you to make sure you get a copy. Enough to think I need to buy another, because this one has  a chip in the boards. And if it has a chip in the boards, I can buy a nice new to keep and use this one to lend out to others, so I can share this wonderful story. The Manual of Detection is really quite special.