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I got this audio book because I was interested in the dictionary setting. But my favorite part ended up being the oddball characters, and the narrator's existential quandary about his first steps into adult life.
As you can imagine, anyone who spends all day in silence poring over dictionary definitions and citations is bound to become a little weird ... and the dictionary editors certainly are. But the most enjoyable characters are the ones only loosely connected to the dictionary: the narrator's drunk neighbors, a grumbly old guy (Korean War vet) who comes into the dictionary from time to time, and all the the people who call the dictionary office or write letters with strange questions, such as how to spell "judgement day" on a tattoo, or how the dictionary can help them diagnose whether an embellishment is a pimple or a boil.
I also liked that the writer, Emily Arsenault, respects her readers. The mystery part of the plot isn't overwrought with empty twists and turns, as so many books are these days. It flows naturally, although at times a little ploddingly. The two main characters, a young man and lady, don't automatically fall in love, but struggle through their lack of chemistry and clarity about themselves. And the ending was one of the best parts.
This isn't a book for hard-core mystery readers (it's more literary than mystery) or readers looking for an "addictive page-turner", but it's a pleasant treat. And you do end up learning a lot about words and dictionaries along the way.
I'm looking forward to Emily Arsenault's next book.
34 of 36 people found this review helpful
I thought this book was reasonably good. I was almost put off by some of the negative reviews. It is true the male narrator's voice is very deadpan. Another commenter complained about the use of a female narrator's voice followed by "she said" as being very off-putting which I only noticed because the comment drew my attention to it. Finally some of the reviews were negative because of all the lexicographical lore in it which is a bit like buying Moby Dick and then complaining about all the stuff about whales. If you are interested in words and dictionaries, it is an interesting angle on a whodunnit. I would not say it was a riveting read but there was enough to it to make me want to listen to the end.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful