Jedediah Berry’s “The Manual of Detection”

A Must Read 300This week I am doing a quick review of a rather unusual mystery/detective novel: Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection. The story follows Charles Unwin, a clerk at a massive detective agency. In fact, Charles works at The detective agency. Set in a sci-fi unnamed city, the world of The Manual of Detection has seen an advent of technology where dreams are monitored criminal cases are solved quickly by a literal by-the-books process using the agency’s prized Manual of Detection. When Unwin is promoted to the role of detective, a title he is in no way ready for, he begins to unravel a conspiracy that threatens to overtake the entire City.

The Manual of Detection is a strange book. In terms of writing, it is overall good, with Berry’s prose flowing from page to page with fairly little effort. There’s nothing groundbreaking, but no complaints can really be made. This book shines in its imagination. The political backdrop that the story operates on is brilliantly symbolic, not to mention strange enough to warrant multiple reads of certain sections. The commentary found here is incredibly relevant today, and is a topic that is on the minds of just about everyone today: privacy. Is it wrong to take someone’s privacy? What happens to mystery when you take away privacy? What happens to life when you take away mystery? The entire affair is treated excellently, especially since this is Berry’s first novel. If you like mystery/conspiracy or detective novels, then this is a strange entry you simply can’t pass up. If the sci-fi setting is a turn off, I urge you to still give the book a go: the setting calls to mind the futuristic societies found in Michael Crichton novels. I hope everyone enjoys their dive into The Manual of Detection as much as I did. It’s an underrated book that deserves more attention.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor

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