Friday, June 07, 2013

Review: The Corpse Reader

The Corpse Reader is a strange novel as far as origin, subject matter, and story is concerned. Originally written in Spanish and translated/distributed/published by Amazon, the story is set in ancient China and his historical fiction about Song Ci, regarded by many as the father of forensic medicine.

In many ways, Song Ci is almost a perfect person for such a treatment. While he has written a massive treatise which serves as much of his legacy, little is actually known about the person. The author, Antonio Garrido, writes an afterwards where he reveals what his own research has said about Song Ci, and the life that he appears to have led does not seem to be particularly drama-filled. Nevertheless, Song Ci appeared to be much more politically inept as a person, in contrast to his pioneering competence in forensic science. In that regards, Garrido's portrayal of Song Ci in the novel is fairly accurate.

The story revolves around Song Ci, who like many heroes is deprived of his family early in the story and begins a journey to maturity. He makes many many stupid decisions very early on, but does show some great qualities as well. Some of the stupid decisions are ridiculously stupid (Ci basically gets taken in by every woman he's ever met who wants to fool him), but the rest of the plot isn't terribly bad. Well, the motivation of one of the major villains makes no sense to me, but the plot moves fast enough that even that realization doesn't come until after you've zipped through the book.

What's the most disappointing to me about the book is that there's no sense of progression for our protagonist. There isn't a series of challenging investigations where Ci is stretched to learn new things about Forensics. In some ways, the book focuses on his journey rather than his investigative challenges, so at the end you're left with very little impression of how he came to understand forensics.

All in all, this is a decent summer read. Very mildly recommended.
Post a Comment