- BuyThe Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
Heinemann, 278 pp, £14.99, March 2009, ISBN 978 0 434 01945 8
One of the dissatisfying things about a lot of classic crime fiction is that when it comes to the anagnorisis, we really only have the detective’s – and the author’s – word for who, how and whydunnit. In many cases it would take only a few tweaks here and there to turn any of the red herrings into the solution, and for Sherlock Holmes’s or Hercule Poirot’s ingenious but ultimately arbitrary explanation to be exposed as just another false trail. One of the many pleasing things about Jedediah Berry’s first novel is that the plot hinges on a famous detective’s most celebrated cases having been solved incorrectly.
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.