Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Investigation” as Want to Read:
The Investigation
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Investigation

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  861 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A young officer at Scotland Yard is assigned to investigate a puzzling and eerie case of missing - and apparently resurrected - bodies. To unravel the mystery, Lt. Gregory consults scientific, philosophical, and theological experts, who supply him with a host of theories and clues.
Paperback, 189 pages
Published July 1st 1976 by Avon (first published 1959)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Investigation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Investigation

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,363)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Stanislaw Lem, a man by turns hilarious, exceedingly reasonable and darkly satirical, was one of the mind's greatest critics. The Investigation strays from his usual Science Fiction genre and explores the Sherlock Holmes-inspired detective tale. Where Doyle was the champion of rational inquiry, Lem expresses the simple tragedy of this approach. Never a proponent of intuition, the mystical or divine, Lem nevertheless revels in describing the immutable wall reality presents human reason.

Not quite
Tenía mucha expectativa con esta historia pero hacia la mitad comienza a dar vueltas inútiles y el final me decepcionó un poco. Me molestó que conocemos hasta los pensamientos mas triviales del investigador, pero en el momento en que tiene algún tipo de plan para engañar al sospechoso no nos lo cuenta! lo sentí como una trampa del autor. Claramente la idea del libro sigue la linea de The Chain of Chance (La Fiebre del Heno), pero esa historia está muchísimo mejor resuelta.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Readers who like some science fiction in the science fiction may not respond to this novel. Lem’s American publishers package The Investigation as they do his science fiction novels, but this is Lem’s variation on the British mystery. Bodies are at first merely repositioning themselves in rural morgues, but soon they apparently are getting up and walking away. There is some loose talk about aliens, but it never amounts to much. Then again, the search for a deranged perpetrator strikes both Lt. G ...more
* The best thing about this book is its air of mystery. It's a mystery novel, but that doesn't tell you anything about it, really. There's a puzzle and an English police inspector and even a suspect, but it's not about any of that. It's about perception and how perception is its own reality.

* The description on the back of my paperback says, "To unravel the mystery Lieutenant Gregory consults scientific, philosophical, and theological experts, who supply him with a host of theories and clues." T
I've been a fan of Stanislaw Lem for years, enjoying his brilliant and satirical works of science fiction, like Solaris and The Cyberiad. When I read that he had also written a mystery novel, I had to get my hands on it and am really glad I did. Now, to the story:

Someone is moving dead bodies around. At first, the corpses are rearranged, or taken out of their coffins. Then things progress to corpses going missing. The young detective struggles to make sense of the incidents, and a scientist is
Felix Zilich
Из моргов одного из провинциальных округов Англии начинают исчезать свежие покойники. Все обстоятельства их странного исчезновения говорят о том, что покойники оживают, вылезают в окно и скрываются в неизвестном направлении, закутавшись в откушенную занавеску или позаимствованный в раздевалке медицинский халат. При этом через день или два их начавшие разлагаться тела все же находят где-нибудь на местных пустошах.

Лейтенант Скотленд-Ярда Грегори уверен, что происходящее – дело рук какого-нибудь о
Abbie King
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Reeser
A dark, intriguing tale of a series of "incidences" in which dead bodies at various morgues are found to have been moved; some turned over, some on the floor, and finally some that have completely vanished. A Scotland Yard detective is assigned to discover what has happened to them. Is this a hoax? Or have these corpses been reanimated by some otherworldly influence?
Stanislaw Lem creates a solid, bizarre world in which the reader is never really sure what is real and what is imagined. The invest
This began as a sort of off-beat police procedural with a not-too bright copper trying desperately to seem smarter than he is and to come up with something other than a supernatural explanation for the dead bodies being moved around and then seemingly climbing out windows into the wider world. That was the book I loved and couldn't put down but it didn't last for long unwound into soliloquies and long rather absurd conversations that hover on the edge of depth but don't always and en ...more
Lewis Manalo
Oct 03, 2007 Lewis Manalo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi readers
More a novel about science - statistics, anyway - than a SF novel, 'The Investigation' is a compelling mystery about seemingly reanimated corpses. Unlike a lot of SF a person can find, the characters were well-drawn, and like everything else in this short novel, do not fill the usual formula of paint by numbers genre pieces. This is my first Lem novel, so I'm not sure how common a lot of the elements in it are; however, there's a bit of philosophy touched on here. Not for those who dislike think ...more
After reading Solaris, and loving nearly every page of it, I decided to read the rest of Stanislaw Lem's books in my roommate's collection. The Investigation is the second of those books. It has a great premise: bodies that vanish after death, reports of fog and dying cats. Unfortunately, the premise is as good as the book gets.

The Investigation on the surface asks what makes these bodies disappear. On a deeper level, a Scotland Yard detective and a brilliant mathematician seek to unravel the
James F
Stanislaw Lem, The Investigation [1959, tr. 1974] 189 pages

Stanislaw Lem was a Polish author of literary science fiction; this was among his earliest novels. It's a sort of parody of a police procedural; corpses begin changing position in small town mortuaries in England, then disappearing entirely. The simplest explanation is that they are moving themselves, but the police of course do not want to accept this. A scientist finds various statistical correlations with the distances and times be
"As long as there are human beings facts don't exist in a void" -- Armour Black, a fictitious writer in Lem's "The Investigation" who puts in a brief appearance to offer up such writerly tidbits of wisdom

I have always enjoyed Lem though it is probably 25 years since I last read one of his works, his "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub". Lem's books when available are shelved in the science fiction section for lack of a better place to put them but most are difficult to classify if not sui generis.

In this novel, Lem departs from his normal batch of science fiction, and uses a detective story to probe the nature of reality, and man’s rational means of discovering it. The plot revolves around a Doyle-esque detective story and a plague of reanimating corpses. A detective uses all rational means of discovering the truth. Throughout the mystery, an eerie fog permeates the novel, which matches the story perfectly, as well as the point Lem is trying to make. I do not want to go further in this r ...more
Opinión con spoilers

No considero como leídos aquellos libros de los cuáles no puedo pasar de las pocas páginas, pero aquellos en los que paso del tercio y, aún así, no consigo tragarme, sí que los considero leídos. Dicho esto, "La investigación" es uno de ellos. Tras un primer capítulo prometedor, todo lo que viene luego es carente de interés y sin sentido. Me explico. En dicho primer capítulo encontramos todo aquello que la contraportada nos vende: un misterio interesante sobre unos cadáveres q
I really enjoyed this one - as much philosophy as mystery. And there's really no definite resolution to the mystery, since thinking about why certain solutions to the mystery are more preferable than others is the entire point of the book. Having a true solution to point to where you can say "this is correct" would invalidate most of the rest of the text.

A note on the translation - Given that the book takes place in London, using American English instead of British English was a huge mistake, in
The Investigation is beautifully written, even in translation. Scenes are described with a clarity that I can almost touch. Lighting is especially described vividly.

I put this on my detective/mystery shelf, because those are the genre tropes Lem is playing in, but it's not really a genre book. Specifically, many people read detective/mystery because they like that the mystery is solved in a tidy package at the end, and that doesn't happen here. It's more of a commentary on the human condition,
Pese a su título, si lo que alguien espera es una historia policiaca al uso, se equivoca. Hay un misterio, sí, y la investigación del título está presente en la narración, pero no es ese el centro de la novela. No quiero avanzar mucho más para no destripar la trama, pero sí diré que tanto en la resolución de la historia principal como en la resolución de una de las secundarias el autor podría haber desarrollado más algunas de las ideas que sólo apunta. En cualquier caso, una lectura interesante.
I didn't like it at all... While I was reading I was trying to remember why I picked this up... Interesting title, interesting synopsis, Polish author, so a different narrative pace... but sadly it's not my kind of book. For me the whole book made no sense at all. I didn't understand what he was trying to say.
Mizerná detektivka, nicméně alespoň prostředí je docela plastické. Horší je to jak se "zápletkou" tak s různými vědeckými teoriemi, které skrze text Lem nabízí. Jinými slovy pokud jste fanoušky jeho scifi, radši u něj zůstaňte :)
A great start and a strong middle, but ultimately fails to resolve with a good enough payoff. If you like the idea of a Lem-universe detective story, read "The Chain of Chance", which is far better.
It's not that this was bad, it's that I thought it was one thing when I started reading, and it was really something else.

I may try again later, when I'm in the mood for something along this lines.
An eerie and unsettling Lem novel, and one that needs to be more well known. It has that characteristic Lem blend of philosophy, dark comedy, and something that might--- might ---be theological. "The Investigation" is Lem's riff on the detective novel and logical deduction. It just might be a very dark mystery. Or a zombie tale. Or a speculation on statistics and just what happens when you take statistical analysis very, very seriously. Don't expect closure or even a single clear explanation. Ju ...more
César Carranza
Antes me resistía a leer a Lem, no soy muy adepto a la ciencia ficción, pero un día le di la oportunidad a una antología, Ciberiada, y encontré algo que no esperaba, si ciencia ficción, pero ideas muy interesantes detrás, La investigación me gusto mucho, hay una atmósfera de intriga bastante buena, además el inicio de la historia parece extraño, pero se pone muy interesante)) una novela policíaca bien lograda, y con esas ideas que ahora veo, son presentes en los escritos de Lem)
Rarefatto? Criptico? Chi lo ha letto o chi magari in futuro lo leggerà me lo spiega? Non riesco neanche a dargli un voto: bellissimo? bruttissimo? bisognerebbe capirlo per poter giudicare. Lascio decantare poi magari lo riprendo con calma. La storia dei cadaveri che scompaiono e del matematico che elabora teorie per spiegare il fenomeno in maniera scientifica sono attraenti (tra l'altro non c'é in giro una serie televisa con il genietto matematico che scopre gli assassini facendo equazioni e cal ...more
Derek Dewitt
An odd little book - very Slavic in character, deeply philosophical. I can see why some might find it difficult to get into. But a worthwhile read and sort, besides.
Christopher Wang
the science and fiction too awkwardly welded together, but I did enjoy the conversations about statistics
I couldn't get into it.
Mar 24, 2009 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own, sf-f, lit
Only after finishing it and thinking more about it have I realized that Lem was actually asking some pretty interesting questions. Sadly, the enjoyment quotient was lower than I had hoped. While I won't read this one again, I'll approach his next books differently and try to spot the Big Idea earlier, so that I can more effectively see what nuances he's trying to convey. In short: don't expect a PKDesian head-trip or an active SF--this is more of musing about the human condition--especially the ...more
A strange investigation seemingly about bodies that come back to life, walk a few steps, then die again, this mystery reminded me of Franz Kafka and Paul Auster's works. Gregory, the inspector, spends the novel trying to solve the unbelievable case, has lengthy, meandering dialogues with witneses and suspects, and doesn't make much progress. At points I enjoyed this book; other points I wondered where it was going. Worth reading if you like Lem, and I do. Not the one I'd start with though.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 45 46 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Spectre Is Haunting Texas
  • The Snail on the Slope
  • Starburst
  • Dr. Futurity
  • Driftglass
  • Thorns
  • Time and Again
  • Night Walk
  • Limes inferior
  • A Whiff of Death
  • The Status Civilization
  • Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin
  • The Star King (Demon Princes, #1)
  • Wszystko czerwone
  • The Wind Whales of Ishmael
  • Oaths and Miracles
Stanisław Lem (staˈɲiswaf lɛm) was a Polish science fiction, philosophical and satirical writer of Jewish descent. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. He is perhaps best known as the author of Solaris, which has twice been made into a feature film. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon claimed that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the w ...more
More about Stanisław Lem...
Solaris The Cyberiad The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy Tales of Pirx the Pilot The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy

Share This Book