I have been using Book Mooch to collect out of print books that I long-ago bookmarked from other people's recs-- especially [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink.

I have often admired Peter Dickinson's writing, but it strikes me as distanced and cold. This is the first book of his that I've liked as well as admired, because the tone fits the subject matter.

Ispector Pibble has recently been forced to leave the police department. It's not explained why in this book, but as it's a series it probably was in the last one. He pays a courtesy call, a favor for his wife (who never appears onstage) to an institute for children with cathypnia. This is an extremely convincing fictional genetic disease, somewhat similar to narcolepsy, which makes the children fat, constantly sleepy, and doomed to die young. Also, perhaps, telepathic.

Pibble notices the possibly telepathy almost immediately-- one of the pleasures of the book is how quietly sharp he is-- and is easily drawn in to experiments going on at the institution, as one of the doctors thinks Pibble is a "sender" who can match with the kids, who are "receivers." The children are convincing and unsentimentalized-- as is Pibble.

This is a very difficult book to discuss without spoilers. It reads like a very atmospheric novel of low-key suspense, but there's a lot going on under the surface. It's very intelligent, very well-written, and, by the end, very disturbing, but probably not in the way one might expect from the set-up. Though there are elements of that, too. I recommend it.

Ginormous spoilers )
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