Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido

Title: The Corpse Reader
Author: Antonio Garrido
Translator: Thomas Bunstead
Publisher: Amazon Crossing (May 28, 2013)
Format Read: Ebook Novel
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical Mystery

After his grandfather dies, avid scholar and budding forensic investigator Cí Song begrudgingly gives up his studies to help his family. But when another tragedy strikes, he’s forced to run and also deemed a fugitive. Dishonored, he has no choice but to accept work as a lowly gravedigger, a position that allows him to sharpen his corpse-reading skills. Soon, he can deduce whether a person killed himself—or was murdered.

His prowess earns him notoriety, and Cí receives orders to unearth the perpetrator of a horrific series of mutilations and deaths at the Imperial Court. Cí’s gruesome investigation quickly grows complicated thanks to old loyalties and the presence of an alluring, enigmatic woman. But he remains driven by his passion for truth—especially once the killings threaten to take down the Emperor himself.

Inspired by Song Cí, considered to be the founding father of CSI-style forensic science, this harrowing novel set during the thirteenth-century Tsong Dynasty draws readers into a multilayered, ingenious plot as disturbing as it is fascinating.

Teasers: His worst offense, it seemed, was to have fathered several daughters, which meant he had to slave to make enough money for remotely attractive dowries. – 3%

“Finding the culprit will be as simple as shaking a stone out of your shoe.” – 5%

“All small-minded people want is possessions, money, fortune, when the most valuable thing is a descendant to look after you in your old age and honor you once you’re gone.” – 10%

All became smoke and darkness. – 11 %

“By God, I know enough to cut our your damn tongue and eat it grilled!” – 17%

Life was waiting for him in Lin’an. – 20%

The art of fortune-telling is one part truth, ten parts lies, and the rest pure illusion. – 32%

The food arrived, and there was so much, and such variety, that the well-known saying about Lin’an—that here you could eat anything that flew except the comets, anything that swam except boats, and anything with legs except tables—seemed entirely apt. – 47%

No news didn’t feel at all like good news. – 48%

“We strangled one just this morning,” he said brightly. – 59%

Review: From humble beginnings to sought-after mind, Cí Song would do anything for honor and knowledge in Antonio Garrido’s The Corpse Reader.

The Corpse Reader reminds me of CSI set in medieval China. Cí Song is a fascinating character. His inquisitive mind and thirst for knowledge makes him interesting, but it’s the tragedy of his life that pulls on this reader’s heartstrings. I felt his pains, heartaches, and triumphs. The rest of the cast is equally intriguing. Garrido has created well-developed and three dimensional characters amongst the exotic backdrop of medieval China. I felt like I was there between the masses of people in Lin’an to the extravagance of the emperor’s palace to the simple life of Cí’s village. Garrido definitely did his research without the world-building slowing down the plot.

Despite the historical setting, The Corpse Reader is a fast-paced, well-written novel. Garrido’s writing is easy to enjoy and feels very modern, which I prefer in my historical novels. The intricate plot kept me guessing as the characters led me through twists and turns. However, the middle did lag a bit, for me. By that mid-point, the epic feel to the storyline started to unravel toward the unbelievable with everything that happened to Cí. Anything and everything seemed and often was possible. The mystery of whodunit kept me reading, and I didn’t guess who the culprit was until nearly the end.

Although the last half lagged a bit for me, I enjoyed The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido and would recommend it to fans of forensic science dramas. The fact that it is based in medieval China and a real life person are added bonuses.

Four Bookworms = I really liked it!