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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Officer Pembry

Giwi Margwelaschwili

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To purchase Officer Pembry

Title: Officer Pembry
Author: Giwi Margwelaschwili
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007
Length: 198 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Officer Pembry - Deutschland
  • Officer Pembry has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B+ : enjoyable reading-fantasy

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The basic premise of Officer Pembry is like a mix of the inventions of Jasper Fforde and Philip K. Dick. It is set about a hundred years in the future, and narrated by a policeman going by the name of Meinleser ('my-reader'), who works for the PKP, the prospective-crime-police. Their job is to intervene in crimes they know will happen -- crimes that are pre-figured in old books, generally long out-of-print msyteries and the like.
       The case at hand is that of Officer Pembry, done in by Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs. The book has long been forgotten, but now, a century later, there really is an Officer Pembry -- and a prisoner named Hannibal Lecter -- and the PKP know that the wheels to the inevitable have been set into motion, a crime set to unfold exactly as it did in the old text. Meinleser approaches Pembry to make him aware of what will happen -- and how it might be prevented.
       The situation comes with numerous complications, from Pembry's doubts about the whole idea (though as the pieces fall into place he comes to believe it) to the danger of tipping Lecter off that the PKP is aware of his prospective crime (and he then making the adjustments so he can get away with it). Inevitably, of course, an FBI agent named Clarice Starling wants to get to Lecter too, threatening to further complicate the crime-prevention scenario the PKP is trying to put in place.
       Officer Pembry is very much a book about reading and the role of the reader in affecting the text. There's a constant tension between sticking to the text and escaping from it; for Officer Pembry the tension is heightened as he (and the PKP) need Lecter to remain within the text, and thus have to feign ignorance of what to expect and can't act in a way that would tip off Lecter, at least not until it's too late for him to change his own ways. While still largely in a passive role -- as reader and character --, Officer Pembry is, in fact, also very active, constantly fighting against the inevitable printed on the page.
       There's a good deal of philosophical-literary discussion in Officer Pembry as Meinleser tries to handle Pembry's case. The nature of reality, dependent on what is read, and the very identity of the people themselves -- their real selves and their fictional counterparts, variations on each other that are not distinct and separate but rather affect each other (and are affected by how, and by whom the text is read ...) -- all play a major role in Margwelaschwili's creation.
       The threat of murder throughout, and especially the use of this familiar story, provide the suspense that helps move the narrative along, preventing it from getting bogged down in too much philosophical speculation. As is, Officer Pembry is an appealing mix of mystery and literary theory, complete with the obligatory dramatic show-down ending. Good, bizarre fun.

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Officer Pembry: Reviews: Giwi Margwelaschwili: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Giwi Margwelaschwili (გივი მარგველაშვილი) was born in Berlin in 1927, and lived in Soviet Georgia from the end of World War II to 1987.

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