-->''If you are not setting a trap, then you are probably walking into one. It is the mark of a master to do both at once.''\\
-- Chapter Fifteen: On Skullduggery, ''Literature/TheManualOfDetection''
Charles Unwin, lifetime resident of a perpetually rainy city, where he bicycles to work every morning with his umbrella open, has just been promoted. This is not a good thing. Charles is a clerk at the Agency -- a vast mystery solving organization divided into underclerks, clerks, detectives, and watchers -- and nobody has been promoted from clerk to detective before. Ever.
But Charles has, mainly because the detective he was a clerk for, [[SdrawkcabName Travis T. Sivart]], has gone missing. So Charles wants his first and last case to be finding Sivart and getting his old job back. This looks to be harder than it appears, as soon dead bodies, sleepwalkers, and stolen alarm clocks apppear, as well as Sivart's old femme fatale Cleopatra Greenwood and old nemesis Enoch Hoffman.
But things may be even more sinister than that. Charles is equipped with only the Agency-issued ''Literature/TheManualOfDetection'', a helpful book, but is it missing a chapter? And Sivart's biggest cases -- The Oldest Murdered Man, The Three Deaths of Colonel Baker, The Man Who Stole November Twelfth -- may have been solved incorrectly. And who is the mysterious overseer of the Agency?
A true MindScrew of a novel by Jedediah Berry, with comparisons to Creator/FranzKafka and Creator/JorgeLuisBorges, as well as FilmNoir.
!!This book contains examples of:
* AlmightyJanitor: [[spoiler: He's the overseer.]]
* BadGuyBar: ''The Forty Winks'' [[spoiler: where the protagonist encounters the bad guy's henchmen for the first time and, yes, they're playing pool.]]
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Unwin's assistant is the perfect assistant, except she's narcoleptic.
* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler: Arthur the custodian]]
* TheChessmaster: Enoch Hoffman, as well as [[spoiler:Arthur, the overseer]].
* CircusOfFear: The Carnival, which has become run down after Caligari disappeared.
* EmpathicEnvironment: It's ''always'' raining in the city...except the end, when the sun starts to shine.
* FemmeFatale: Cleo Greenwood
* HeelFaceTurn: Done gloriously when Unwin solves the case [[spoiler: and then he goes and joins the other side.]]
* MadnessMantra: ''"Somewhere to go, something to do."''
* PleaOfPersonalNecessity: [[spoiler: Shortly before he’s shot, Arthur, the Overseer, "You know what that madman's doing to my city. To our city. You need me."]]
* PsychicPowers: The whole plot revolves around Chapter Eighteen, [[spoiler:which involves observing people's dreams and communicating while sleeping]].
** The former head of the Carnival was named [[Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari Caligari]].
** ''The Wonderly'' (the boat in the Oldest Murdered Man case). Miss Wonderly is the alias used by FemmeFatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy when she presents herself as a client at ''Spade & Archer'' in ''Film/TheMalteseFalcon''.
* SingleMindedTwins: The Rook brothers, who used to be Siamese twins until Enoch Hoffman had them separated.