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The Investigation [Kindle Edition]

Stanislaw Lem , Adele Milch
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude
The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude
This classic detective novel from the 1930s, set in beautiful southwestern England, has just been republished for the first time. Learn more | See similar books

Book Description

A young officer at Scotland Yard is assigned to investigate a puzzling and eerie case of missing-and apparently resurrected-bodies. To unravel the mystery, Lt. Gregory consults scientific, philosophical, and theological experts, who supply him with a host of theories and clues.

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Polish (translation)

About the Author

Stanislaw Lem is the most widely translated and best known science fiction author writing outside of the English language. Winner of the Kafka Prize, he is a contributor to many magazines, including the New Yorker, and he is the author of numerous works, including Solaris.

Product Details

  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (July 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R2K8VO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,252 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly original mystery will intrigue the curious April 18, 2000
For years I'd heard a lot about Stanislaw Lem as a great Polish science fiction writer, maybe one of the world's greats in that field, but I hadn't ever read him. Therefore, when I saw a book of his at a yard sale, I bought it. The price was certainly right. But, I must report that I still haven't read any of his science-fiction because THE INVESTIGATION turns out to be one of his few works in other genres. But what genre is this ? You might say it's a detective novel, but "metaphysical detective fiction" would describe it better. How many other books fit into the same field ? Good question. Here we find bodies removed from graveyards and mortuaries; sometimes they turn up elsewhere, sometimes not. Gregory, a suspicious policeman, is assigned to catch the perpetrator. But is there a perpetrator ? Discussions of statistics and probability, as well as mysterious speculations, pepper this novel, which takes place in cold, foggy, rainy or snowy conditions in England, a country that does not emerge very realistically from the background. I was constantly reminded of Ismail Kadare's novel "Doruntine" by the similar philosophical nature of the writing which marks both books, by the rain and cold, and even by the names of characters-Stres in the Albanian book, and Sciss (the statistician) in Lem's. I can't say that this is a characteristic Lem novel because it's the first I ever read. But a detective novel that asks "what if everything that exists is fragmentary, incomplete, aborted, events with ends but no beginnings, events that only have middles, things that have fronts or rears, but not both, with us constantly making categories..... ?" cannot be considered average. Lem's novel may not be to everyone's taste---especially if you are looking for sex, violence, or lots of action---but it is unusual and well-written.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left Crying in the Wilderness January 3, 2012
In fitting with the theme of this book: It was a Friday afternoon, and my wife and I stopped by the main library in our city. I had my mind of checking out two particular books. I gathered the two books and then proceeded to walk through the stacks in the fiction area. As I walked, this work (with an odd late 1980s cover, at the end of a row) caught my eye. I checked it out on a whim, not knowing anything about it.

From start to finish this floored me. The tension between order and randomness -- light and dark -- is thrilling and makes for a sensational reading experience. Lem also creates setting (dark restaurants, bars with women in bare shoulders) in magnificent ways. His ability to keep a complex tale simple also is admirable because this is a book with deceptively heavy themes. Finally, unlike a lot of books with similar themes, the ending here is perfect, in that, often humans are left crying in the wilderness.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just the facts, Stan. March 7, 2001
As every detective and scientist should know, objectively there are facts and relationships between facts. Sometimes there are causal relationships between facts, and the facts are correlated; sometimes there are no causal connections between facts, and the facts may or may not show some statistical correlation. The situation where the facts display at least chance correlations but may not be linked causally provides the leitmotiv for Stanislaw Lem's "The Investigation" (and his "Chain of Chance" for that matter).
Correlated facts are suggestive, but when the number of facts does not amount to a meaningful statistical sample the correlation may be an artifact, and then sound inductive reasoning often gives way to wild speculation. In "The Investigation", lieutenant Gregory of Scotland Yard desperately tries to puzzle out a consistent explanation for a bizarre series of disappearing corpses while receiving input from a scientist, a doctor, and fellow detectives --- each with his own ideas. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be enough solid evidence to decide whether the facts of the case have causal structure or whether they simply form "fortuitous patterns". Hmmm.
The category of "science fiction" is usually reserved for whimsical flights of fancy, but here we have a book that breathes fictional life into part of the intellectual apparatus that is at the very heart of science --- the empirical, or scientific, method. No pedantic statement is made about the empirical method, it's darker corners simply serve as a compelling thematic backdrop for a detective story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Maybe even God only exists from time to time" November 7, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a departure from my usual style of reviewing, I'm going to give the plot of THE INVESTIGATION rather short shrift, because any synopsis I could come up with would simply be misleading. It does have elements of a detective novel, with the lead investigator, Lt. Gregory of Scotland Yard, assigned to track down the culprit behind a slate of corpse-snatchings; yet even though it adheres to the conventions of the genre, it is no traditional mystery. I think it would be more appropriate to consider it a metaphysical novel, one designed to question how humanity perceives reality.

Frankly, the novel is a bit baffling. In some ways, it seems as though the conclusion doesn't merit the build-up. I don't want to give anything away, but readers who are expecting easy answers to the mystery are going to be disappointed. In reality, there really is no ending to speak of, though that doesn't mean the book is incomplete. It just means that it will probably frustrate many readers.

There are other aspects that will likely exasperate. The writing itself I thought was rather clunky, though one never knows if that isn't the fault of the translator. And there are several scenes within the novel that seem to be unrelated to anything else - some are as surreal as Kafka's interludes in THE TRIAL, some reminiscent of Poe's macabre atmospheres (in fact, it seems like there are several direct homages to Poe's most famous short-stories). These last segments were bizarre in relation to the rest of the story, especially if one is reading the book as an ordinary account. Taken in context with its questioning nature, though, and it seems as though they could be hazy, indistinct pictures of the puzzle. It was these odd extracts I enjoyed most about the novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Consequences will never be the same...
"Who would an armed constable run away from?" Gregory repeated, a blank expression on his face. He didn't expect an answer, and he didn't get one. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rui del Negro
1.0 out of 5 stars The investigation
Did not enjoy this book, the typography errors, more than one per page,totally unacceptable, story poorly told 0 stars,do DO NOT RECOMMEND.
Published 23 months ago by malachy smith
3.0 out of 5 stars More meandering than disturbing
To me, this book read like one of Philip Dick's less focused works. It sort of meanders along, following a police detective as he investigates a series of mysterious crimes that... Read more
Published on April 24, 2013 by Rob Kroese
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and goes in circles
Don"t bother with this one. I kept waiting for something, but nothing really happened . That part of my life is gone forever.
Published on April 23, 2013 by Dean
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
I didn't like the way Sheppard and Gregory interacted; especially Sheppard's character. The end left me in the lurch...who was the guilty person? Read more
Published on April 12, 2013 by Diane
3.0 out of 5 stars Lem at his average.
Not as good as the few other novels of his I've read. But entertaining enough for fans. (Three more words required, here they are.)
Published on April 4, 2013 by VoxVulgus
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring an Hard to get into
This becomes one of the more convoluted stories I have read. It is difficult to follow the story through because of the way the primary protagonists are made to interact. Read more
Published on April 4, 2013 by S. E. Potts
2.0 out of 5 stars Too wordy, not much action
It was too much about how police. It seemed less about the crime and more about manipulating the police officer.
Published on April 3, 2013 by Anne Nusbaum
1.0 out of 5 stars Too long & confusing!
Went on way too long, it took forever to finish! I can't start a book & not finish it but this was a struggle! Tons of typos & spelling errors. Read more
Published on March 30, 2013 by ksue
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Strange ... Kept me Reading
Yep, moving dead are strange. Too strange. Terminally strange. I may read another Lem book, and I am positive it, too, will be strange. Fortunately, I am somewhat strange.
Published on March 22, 2013 by Cap Munday
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More About the Author

Stanislaw Lem is the most widely translated and best known science fiction author writing outside of the English language. Winner of the Kafka Prize, he is a contributor to many magazines, including the New Yorker, and he is the author of numerous works, including Solaris.

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