Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review of The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido

I have finished The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido and am excited about this novel. The Corpse Reader tells the story of Ci Song, a young scholar who's been dealt the worst hand possible. I really don't want to give too much away in regards to his family and why he must flee but the story is harrowing and only someone as bright and resourceful as Ci is able to overcome the odds set up against him.

While trying to stay incognito and escape the authorities, Ci finds work as a gravedigger where he tightens his skill at being able to read corspes in a way no one else can. He can tell when the death occured, how, and who the person could have been before being killed. Ci takes what he learned as a forensic investigator and expounds on it and eventually catching the attention of the emperor. A recent sleu of murders of high ranking officials makes it clear that someone is possibly gunning for the emperor himself.

Antonio Garrido does a great job with this novel. It's obvious a lot of research was put into this novel. I imagine it's quite difficult writing about medieval China but Garrido makes it seem so easy. The word flow is great and the characters are well developed. Ci is the type of character that we want to just given some sort of break. He's loving, kind, smart, and resourceful. What's not to like about that?

The only negative I have with this novel is that at times I felt like I was reading a biography. The cover jacket suggests that The Corpse Reader is paying homage to Song Ci, the founder of what we consider forensic science to be. I'm not sure how much of Ci and Song's stories were similar, but moments in this novel felt less organic than others with regards to storytelling. I read a lot of historical fiction so it's not a problem that's specific to Garrido, but to a lot of authors where they are giving us readers a lot of information (thankfully) and it reads as a text book instead of a novel unfolding. 

Overall, The Corpse Reader was informational and interesting. There's enough mystery, intrigue, and suspense to keep readers guessing until the end. I recommend this novel to anyone who's a fan of crime television such as Law & Order or CSI. The amount of detail given to the reading of bodies will help satisfy that appetite. After reading this it leads me to wonder what my corpse will say... ****

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