Customer Review

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
This review is from: The Investigation (Paperback)
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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2.9 out of 5 stars (23 customer reviews)
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