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Amazon link: The Body Library
Author: Jeff Noon (@jeffnoon); Website
Thumbnail sketch: A unique and dream-like Urban Noir Fantasy tale that can be enjoyed as a simple page-turner or by searching for deeper themes. There’s murder, illicit drugs, and a weird and terrifying disease — all connected to the titular book.
My Take On The Body Library
Once again, Mr. Noon has created a story that can be simply read and enjoyed as a fast-paced and dream-like Urban Noir Fantasy, or it can be examined and pondered, searched for underlying themes. To be sure, I’m unaware of any meaning or purpose the author has intended with The Body Library; perhaps there is none beyond telling a unique and interesting tale. It also wouldn’t be the first time I’ve misinterpreted a writer’s prose, inventing themes or symbolism as a result of my own personal filters. I don’t see that as a negative, really, but part of what makes reading enjoyable (authors, however, may disagree).
Following the strange events of A Man of Shadows (my review), private investigator John Nyquist has relocated to the aptly-named city of Storyville. The creation and telling of stories, monitored by the city’s powerful Narrative Council, is the main occupation, and preoccupation, of Storyville:
Every road, lane, avenue and cul-de-sac was crowded with listeners and storytellers alike, with fables, with myths and legends, with murder mysteries and tales of horror both human and supernatural, with two-line parables and epic sagas which took a day or more to relate, with yarns and anecdotes and accounts of genuine true fictions, with lies galore, glorified. On corners, in kiosks, outside bars, in vast concert halls and tiny wooden sheds that held two people only, one teller, one listener: here the people shared their stories. Joy filled the streets. The stories merged and mingled where narrators vied for the same audience, events and characters migrating from one tale to another, as they often will.
— Noon, Jeff. The Body Library (Nyquist Mysteries) (Kindle Locations 62-67). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.