Audio Book Review: The Corpse Reader

The Corpse ReaderBook: The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido, translated by Thomas Burnstead, narrated by Todd Haberkorn

Published May 2013 by Brilliance Audio|Run Time: 12 hours, 14 minutes

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Series: None

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction

You can find The Corpse Reader on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: After his grandfather dies, avid scholar and budding forensic investigator Cí Song begrudgingly gives up his studies to help his family. But when another tragedy strikes, he’s forced to run and also deemed a fugitive. Dishonored, he has no choice but to accept work as a lowly gravedigger, a position that allows him to sharpen his corpse-reading skills. Soon, he can deduce whether a person killed himself—or was murdered.

His prowess earns him notoriety, and Cí receives orders to unearth the perpetrator of a horrific series of mutilations and deaths at the Imperial Court. Cí’s gruesome investigation quickly grows complicated thanks to old loyalties and the presence of an alluring, enigmatic woman. But he remains driven by his passion for truth—especially once the killings threaten to take down the Emperor himself.

Inspired by Song Cí, considered to be the founding father of CSI-style forensic science, this harrowing novel set during the thirteenth-century Tsong Dynasty draws readers into a multilayered, ingenious plot as disturbing as it is fascinating.

My Review:

The Corpse Reader isn’t a book I’d normally seek out on my own, but when I heard it mentioned on the Book Riot podcast, I was intrigued enough to read it.

What’s most interesting is that the book is inspired by a real person.  I can’t speak to the historical accuracy of the book, but it did the feel of 12th century China.  I’m definitely curious about Ci, and the sources Garrido used, because I’d really like to learn more about Song Ci.  It, unfortunately, wasn’t included in the audio book, so I may have to check out a print or digital version of the book to see if anything’s included at the end of the book.  It does seem pretty well-researched, and it’s pretty detailed while not being boring.  You get the right amount of information at the right time, and it was easy to stay interested throughout the book, since I didn’t find myself bored at any particular point.

I did notice that when we got closer to the ending, it kind of reminded me of an episode of CSI or Law & Order.  It’s definitely dramatic, but given that Ci seems to be considered the father of forensics, it also seems appropriate.  I like that it’s a murder mystery set in medieval China, because it’s not something I normally read about.

Garrido really does seem to be a great story-teller, but at the same time, there was something about this book I couldn’t quite connect with.  I’m not sure if something was lost in translation, but…there is something about The Corpse Reader that I can’t put my finger on.  Still, it did seem like it was pretty well translated.

As for the narration, I felt like Todd Haberkorn did a pretty good job.  I wasn’t blown away, but he wasn’t horrendous either.

Let’s Rate It:

I liked The Corpse Reader, and it’s definitely a book I wouldn’t have picked out on my own.  It’s different in a good way, and I liked the time and setting because it’s not what I’d usually go for in historical fiction.  The Corpse Reader gets 3 stars.

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