From Publishers Weekly
Nabokov meets Lemony Snicket in this manic Chinese box version of a mystery. The story, on the surface, is a whodunit set in Iceland, but it's an Iceland of fictitious cities and fantastical underground lands, in which Our Heroine (the only name given to the book's central character) searches for her lost dog while resisting and then reluctantly solving the mystery of who murdered her best friend. The book's multiple narrators include the grownup Our Heroine, a Hollywood actor, a pair of detectives whose style of speech owes more than a little to Yoda, the murder victim's husband, an Icelandic gossip columnist, and the overnarrator who speaks through the book's 53 footnotes, Prefatory Note, Prelude and Afterword. Through all of this ancillary material, the overnarrator refers to a series of mystery novels featuring Our Heroine's now-dead mother and now-demented father and their nemesis, an Icelandic Moriarty. The murder victim herself speaks through notes she has left behind, one of which reads: "We must create incomprehensible things in order to have an analogy for our incomprehension of the universe." Perhaps it's not quite the imperative she thought. (June)
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Long aspires to the linguistic acrobatics of Nabokov and Pynchon in this clever but somewhat tedious mystery debut. The tale revolves around the daughter of Emily Bean-Ymirson, a criminologist and anthropologist, who, along with her Icelandic husband, Jon, solved a slew of cryptic cases before her death in 1985. (Fictional scholar Magnus Valison has novelized the late Bean's diaries in 12 volumes, matter-of-factly titled The Memoirs of Emily Bean
.) Emily's daughter, known only as Our Heroine, reluctantly takes up her mother's work following the untimely demise of Shirley MacGuffin (yes, the name is a nod to Hitchcock), a "continually aspiring" author who pens insufferably pretentious prose. Even the most patient readers may find themselves exhausted by Long's legions of footnotes and excessive narrative shifts. There's also the strange cast, which fills a three-page list and includes a rogue librarian, a pair of metaphysical detectives, and a missing dachshund with better breeding than any of the two-legged characters. Long is a talented wordsmith; pity he couldn't demonstrate his verbal dexterity in a more reader-friendly way. Allison BlockCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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