Antonio Garrido’s second novel The Corpse Reader is the fictionalized account of Song Ci, the Chinese founding father of forensic science. A historically accurate, CSI mystery will pull you in and keep you turning the page until the very end. Garrido’s years of research on the culture, social, legal, and political aspects of the Tsong Dynasty will draw you into the world of 13th century China.
The story follows the trials and tribulations of young Ci Song, a scholar and budding forensic investigator. Ci’s story begins when he must leave his studies in Lin’an after his grandfather dies, to help his family. When Ci’s simple life in his family’s rural village is disrupted by tragedy, he is forced to flee, deeming him a fugitive. With nowhere to go, Ci heads back to Lin’an in hopes of finding refuge with his former mentor, Judge Feng. Upon arriving in Lin’an he discovers Judge Feng’s home has been abandoned. With nowhere to turn, he reluctantly accepts work with a lowly gravedigger. This allows him to sharpen his skills as a corpse reader. Soon, word of Ci’s abilities reach Emperor Ningzong who charges him with solving a series of murders that threaten to take down the Emperor.
Garrido has done an excellent job of creating an intriguing story while keeping true to the historical accuracy of 13th century China. The Corpse Reader is full of twists and intrigue, and is exactly what a good mystery should be. Don’t let the nearly 500 pages scare you off from reading this book, once you start reading you won’t want to put it down.