Title: The Body Library
Author: Jeff Noon
From the back: Jeff Noon returns with a staggering hallucinogenic sequel to A Man of Shadows, taking hapless investigator John Nyquist into a city where reality is contaminated by the imagination of its citizens
In a city dissolving into an infected sprawl of ideas, where words come to life and reality is contaminated by stories, John Nyquist wakes up in a room with a dead body… The dead man’s impossible whispers plunge him into a murder investigation like no other. Clues point him deeper into an unfolding story infesting its participants as reality blurs between place and genre.
Only one man can hope to put it all back together into some kind of order, enough that lives can be saved… That man is Nyquist, and he is lost.
The gist: I’ll have some of what Jeff Noon’s having, please.
I mean, reading his work is like going on a surreal drugs trip. His words pull you in with an addictive quality, painting pictures in your mind and gifting you with the sort of book hangover that leaves you hankering for more. And The Body Library, the second instalment in the Nyquist Mysteries series (see my review of the first here), is certainly no exception.
This time Noon takes us on a crazy ride into Storyville, a city of stories, narratives, tales. A city where the lines of fiction are blurred, the lives of characters weave around each other, everything coming together or pulling away but nothing quite as it seems. Stories run and pages bleed, words shuffle into each other and trick you into trusting them before leaving you cliffhanging into a chapter in a different, yet suspiciously similar world. A city where you find yourself in the wrong story and stuff is absolutely going to get weird.
IT’S A JEFF NOON BOOK OF COURSE IT’S GOING TO GET WEIRD.
And all of this sets the stage for our favourite noir detective to unpick his latest mystery. Dead bodies, murders, strange children that loiter in tower block hallways. All in a day’s work for Ncquist, who attracts trouble like trouble’s a hamster and he’s a piece of potently aged cheese. He might want to consider retiring somewhere to relax and write a book. Oh. Wait. Scratch that thought.
They say you lose yourself in a good book. With its tales within tales, the story as much a character in the novel as the people walking its pages, you might find yourself doing just that in The Body Library.
This book seems somehow alive. But are you inside or outside the pages?
Favourite line: “You’re either a tale talker, or a tale stalker.”
Read if: You want noir mystery tied up in stories within stories within stories, a swirling whirlwind of narratives and words that come alive and misbehave. Plus a bit of good, old fashioned murder.
Read with: All of your books lined neatly in a row, orderly, behaving themselves. Y’all keep an eye on those pesky stories.
Get it: The Body Library by Jeff Noon