When held in the hand, The Manual of Detection looks positively sinister, with an all-seeing golden eye glaring out from its bilious green cover. When opened, this first novel…lives up to the eerie packaging, reading like something lifted from Ray Bradbury's Dark Carnival and dropped into a Kafka setting.
The New York Times
Berry's debut novel stars Charles Unwin, a clerk for the famous detective Travis Sivart, whose own promotion to detective is followed by a series of bewildering events. Sivart goes missing, the supervisor of the detectives turns up dead and Unwin is left to solve the many mysteries. Pete Larkin is perfectly suited for this whimsical, Kafkaesque noir; his smooth and sympathetic narration makes the bizarre twists perfectly logical and sensible. He also provides homage to the hard-boiled staples: the seasoned detective, the naïve but clever clerk, the eager assistant, the brutish thugs, the sinister mastermind and the femme fatale. The strength of the story and the talent of the reader mesh beautifully. A Penguin Press hardcover(Reviews, Dec. 8).(Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In an effort to locate a missing detective, an agency clerk investigates that detective's most renowned cases. Is he following the right clues? Is he trusting the right people? His steps through the surreal City, the Agency Archives, and the Travels-No-More Carnival take him ever closer to his destiny. Merging a comedic yet dark fantasy world with the hard-boiled school of detection, this clever debut novel both amuses and confuses. Pete Larkin's (The Last Campaign) carefully fashioned portrayals of the stock characters-worldly Detective Sivert, innocent, clueless clerk Unwin, femme fatale Cleopatra Greenwood, folksy janitor Arthur, elderly Colonel Baker, and evil magician Enoch Hoffman-help the listener keep track of who's who but never what's what! Fans of Jasper Fforde and Dashiell Hammett will appreciate. [Audio clip available through www.highbridgeaudio.com; see Major Audio Releases, LJ2/1/09.-Ed.]
Juleigh Muirhead Clark
An unlikely sleuth anchors an unlikely investigation in Berry's fantastical melding of Kafka, Hitchcock and The Man Who Was Thursday. For 20 years Charles Unwin has toiled as a clerk to Detective Travis T. Sivart. Now he's been plucked from his assignment shadowing a mysterious young woman in a plaid skirt and catapulted to the rank of detective himself. His queasy meeting with his Watcher, Edward Lamech, ends with his discovery that Lamech is dead, with every indication that Unwin is his killer. Partly to dispel the gathering clouds of suspicion, partly to fend off the jeers of his new colleagues, but mostly because he doesn't know what else to do, Unwin throws himself manfully into the investigation of Enoch Hoffmann, the magician who's recently resurfaced eight years after pulling off his greatest criminal coup: the theft of November 12th, a theft so audacious and comprehensive that everyone in the city went to bed on the 11th and didn't wake up until the 13th. Making time with suspects like femme fatale Cleopatra Greenwood and apparent walk-ons like Municipal Museum attendant Edwin Moore-who know without exception more than he does about the theft of The Oldest Murdered Man and the Three Deaths of Colonel Baker-he sees that buried in the archives of the cases Detective Sivart solved all those years ago, there are "mysteries that have been passed off as solutions." Armed with the ever-helpful Manual of Detection, he realizes that in order to capture Hoffmann, whose "true goal is the destruction of the boundary between the city's rational mind and the violent delirium of its lunatic dreams," he must become a dream detective. It's a task no less daunting for readers who are batted backand forth between Unwin's madly symbolic dreams and a waking reality that seems equally preposterous. Though its nonsense logic eventually lags behind its breakneck pace, Berry's debut is a boldly inventive deconstruction of Cartesian metaphysics, the criminal-justice system and the well-oiled detective story.
“Pete Larkin's (The Last Campaign) carefully fashioned portrayals of the stock charactersworldly Dectective Sivert, innocent, clueless clerk Unwin, femme fatale Cleopatra Greenwood, folksy janitor Arthur, elderly Colonel Baker, and evil magician Enoch Hoffmanhelp the listener keep track of who's who but never what's what! Fans of Jasper Fforde and Dashiell Hammett will appreciate.”
“Larkin’s deep, sonorous voice sets the perfect tone for this debut novel. Larkin’s characterizations are dead-on.”
“Jedediah Berry knows magic. The Manual of Detection combines the intricacy and thoughtfulness of Borges and Kafka with the page-turning excitement of a detective thriller. . . . It made me laugh, thrill, think, and wonder.”
“Weaves the kind of mannered fantasy that might result if Wes Anderson were to adapt Kafka. . . . .”
The New Yorker