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Double Negative (Jeremy Cook #1)

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3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  337 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Jeremy Cook is the resident genius at the Wabash Institute, a southern Indiana linguistics think tank attached to a daycare center. Cook seeks knowledge on many fronts: he wants to know how toddlers learn to talk, how he can endear himself to the beautiful new research assistant, and why one of his colleagues has suddenly turned up dead in Cook's own office. The rustic loc ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Felony & Mayhem (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30 of 658)
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MissSugarTown
Une drôle d'histoire. Une équipe de linguistes mène l'enquête sur un meurtre et se soupçonnent les uns les autres. Ça m'a fait penser au Dix petits nègres d'Agatha Christie. C'est un polar très psychologique, un peu philosophique, qui lance des pistes de réflexion sur le bien et le mal chez l'être humain. C'est comme si nous étions foncièrement mauvais ou du moins fortement prédisposés à penser du mal d'autrui. C'est assez fascinant... et troublant.
Andrea Mullarkey
Oct 29, 2012 Andrea Mullarkey rated it really liked it
A 30-year-old linguistic mystery?!? Really! Peopled with socially awkward characters and set in a research institute where linguists study the verbal and pre-verbal interactions of toddlers in a daycare setting, this was as geeky fun as I hoped it would be. It’s got a pretty typical mystery framework (dead body, investigator, clues, suspects, murder weapon, and satisfying resolution) and it usually bugs me to read in genres that stick close to their formulas. But there was so much word nerdy fun ...more
Nick Duretta
Oct 07, 2014 Nick Duretta rated it liked it
Clever, if a bit obtuse, murder mystery at a bizarre school in Indiana that studies vocal patterns of young children. The linguistics backgrounds of the main suspects--including the book's protagonist, Jeremy Cook--is entertaining and, ultimately, connected to the solution of the mystery. Cook is handsome, smart and likable, yet spends almost the entire novel fretting over who likes him, who doesn't, and why. This also turns out to be an obsession of the murder victim. In the end, all the charac ...more
Jim Leffert
Jan 26, 2013 Jim Leffert rated it liked it
Now I’ve read both mystery novels by the novelist David Carkeet, From Away, his latest novel from 2010, and Double Negative, his first novel from 1980. Double Negative introduces the character of Jeremy Cook, a psycholinguistic researcher, who is also the subject of two subsequent Carkeet novels, which are not mysteries.

Double Negative is undoubtedly the finest mystery novel ever written about the academic field of psycholinguistics! It takes place at an academic institute that has a childcare
...more
Patricia Rockwell
May 09, 2016 Patricia Rockwell rated it it was amazing
I adore any academic who-dun-it, and this is one. In addition, this one is totally thought-provoking and mystifying--even for a mystery writer. I know people just like these characters--some I miss and some I don't, but that's what makes this such a delightful book to read.
Hannah
Nov 07, 2009 Hannah rated it it was ok
This book was engaging and entertaining. I enjoyed Jeremy's humorous depictions of his co-workers.

As a mystery novel, I think it leaves something to be asked for. I was hoping for more clues along the way and feel like it did more of a big resolve at the end. Indeed, I did not see the suspect coming but I think a lot more could be added with Stiph's notes and connections with clues.

Also, I was not a fan of how Paula suddenly falls head over heels for Jeremy in the end. How did he get there?

This
...more
Carisa
Jul 03, 2015 Carisa added it
Most readers here seem to believe that this is meant to be a comic novel, which I think is a fundamental misreading. It seems clear to me that Carkeet is presenting us with a case study of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and has given us in Jeremy Cook a protagonist so consumed by his pathology that the reader cannot help but feel for him even as they are repulsed by him:

--He overestimates his own importance (considers himself the "resident genius" of his office, even though in a telling
...more
Alan
Jul 06, 2016 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery fans, Lucky Jim fans
Pop Quiz: What book has these plot points?

1. The unlikely protagonist is a quirky academic.
2. The protagonist works in a environment with an assortment of other quirky academics.
3. The protagonist's boss is a self-interested bore.
4. The protagonist has a love interest for whom there is a rival.
5. The protagonist is assigned by his boss to write and deliver a lecture that he does not wish to do.

If you answered Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim you would be absolutely correct. But, if you answered David C
...more
Marfita
Jan 21, 2014 Marfita rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Why wouldn't research linguists be as petty and violent as anyone else? The edition I read is a re-re-re-re-re-release. I should have guessed from the mention of manual typewriters. There is only one electric typewriter in the building. The similarity with Donald Westlake as noted on the back cover is quite apt. While the book is not laugh-aloud funny (but then, I read it while home with the flu), it is amusing.
Someone kills one of the researchers and leaves him in the office, nay, the chair of
...more
Maryll
Mar 16, 2011 Maryll rated it it was ok
I had to chuckle at how the protagonist "cracked" the case -- it is indeed novel if a little ethically unsettling -- but motive?? How can you write a mystery story and never bother to explain the motives of the murderer? Too farcical and too lost in linguistic wordplay that it got precious and forgot to be a mystery.
Kirsten
Jan 06, 2009 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
This was AWESOME. It's a murder mystery set at a think tank of linguists. There's lots of inter-office politics and backstabbing (not literally, in this case), and the main character is sort-of-maybe (you're not quite sure, really) an unreliable narrator. Hilarious too. Great fun.
Lorin Kleinman
May 26, 2010 Lorin Kleinman rated it really liked it
Academia has long been excellent fodder for fiction, from David Lodge to Amanda Cross. In Double Negative, David Carkeet–somewhere in between these two writers, though less gifted than Lodge and, happily, less cerebral than Cross–draws a highly entertaining picture of a quarrelsome group of linguists who study language development in children. They work at an institute that doubles as a day care center, where they record every utterance of their small charges.

The resident social misfit genius is
...more
Lucile
Feb 08, 2016 Lucile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'avoue que je n'étais absolument pas sûre d'apprécier ce livre quand je l'ai commencé. Le titre m'intriguait mais le synopsis me paraissait un peu étrange. J'ai été agréablement surprise d'être entraînée par l'histoire et de m'attacher quelque peu aux personnages même s'ils n'étaient pas toujours sympathique. C'est un roman policier d'un autre genre, très agréable à lire et plutôt humoristique. Je ne regrette pas mon choix.
Karry
Jun 23, 2015 Karry rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, mystery, acadamia
OK, the premise of the book is good; a Institute where the scholars study language development of children in day care. The characters are a fascinating group of screwed up academicians who are at least a little weird and a lot freeky! And then there are the murders that keep happening. The author has a way with words and an imaginative delightful way of naming his characters. It is funny and fun to read but it is not the best mystery I've read nor is it a book that kept me glued to the page. If ...more
Jo Marie
Mar 12, 2015 Jo Marie rated it it was ok
I read about this mystery some time ago and something I read made me put it on my "to read " list. I finally read it and what a disappointment! It's a murder mystery, sort of, so I finished it to learn who the murderer was. There are some comic aspects and some clever word play. After all, it takes place in an institution where linguists study speech patterns of children. Pretty much a waste of time.
Deborah
Aug 06, 2012 Deborah rated it it was ok
I suppose I shouldn't rate this book one star, since I did manage to read it all the way through, so I rated it two stars. An interesting, to me at least, twist on a murder mystery--the main character works at a linguistic institute, studying toddlers as they develop verbal skills. It was supposed to be funny, but I couldn't find any humor, other than the fact that the linguists were working with toddlers--the characters weren't interesting, the writing was so-so, and I couldn't figure out why e ...more
Teresa
Apr 03, 2016 Teresa marked it as abandoned
Gave up at p. 55. A book set at an psycholinguistic institute/day care center should have more linguistics than this does so far. At this point, it's just typical workplace comedy that could be set anywhere. I gather from other reviews that the linguistics picks up more later, but I'm too bored and dislike the main character too much to continue.
Pascal
May 25, 2014 Pascal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-policier
Dommage que je sois tombé sur la version française, mais on apprécie quand même l'humour et la dérision des situations, de cet anti-héro pris dans une série de crimes dans une institution normalement banale...mais qui va révélé un peu plus sur chacun de ses employés...
Kathy
Apr 10, 2009 Kathy rated it liked it
While leafing through a Bas Bleu catalog, I stumbled upon an intriguing review of this book. Looking for something new and different, I decided to give it a try. Although not an example of superb murder mystery this original approach to the mystery genre worked for me.

The murder occurs at the Wabash Institute, a language research center, where lettered linguists study language development in toddlers. All of the six PhD's are suspects. One of them, Jeremy Cook, leads the charge in trying to sol
...more
Susan
Oct 03, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it
Double Negative is an amusing mystery set at the Wabash Institute in southern Indiana. At the Institute, linguists maintain a daycare facility to enable them to study infant language acquisition. Someone begins killing people associated with the Institute and setting up researcher Jeremy Cook as fall guy. Jeremy and the local police investigator spar and compare notes, eventually solving the murder through linguistic devices. This book is mildly amusing in places, but appears to be trying for mo ...more
Victor
Dec 29, 2014 Victor rated it it was ok
Decent vacation reading and an opportunity to learn a little about linguistics. But worthy of a pass.
Barbara
Jul 06, 2013 Barbara rated it liked it
A fun and entertaining book. I wouldn't tell anyone to run out and read it before they die, but it wasn't a waste of time and I liked the characters. The dialog was smooth and believable, as we're the personalities.

I thought the names were funny. The guy who was killed? Stiff (Stiph), the man who gossips and spreads rumors is "askew" (Aaskhugh), the administrator is "watch" (Wach), the bumbling friend is "whoops" (Whoeps). I don't really why the other characters have their names -- Leaf, Orffman
...more
Brett Bydairk
I have never previously read a mystery where the killer is revealed by a linguistic clue, and one given by an infant.
This book was nominated for an Edgar when first released in 1980. The author is a linguist, and in the early pages of the book seems more interested in how he tells the story, rather than telling the story, There is much humor in the writing.
Jenny
May 30, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
This is a mystery novel. It's a pretty classic whodunnit, with a murderer on the loose. The interesting bit is that the characters are academics, linguists, and they all work at a daycare in Wabash, Indiana studying children. I found this book amusing, and a fun quick summer read. I think I would have liked either the mystery OR the academic parody to be a little more sharply drawn. Not enough clues or reasoning was put into the mystery and not enough attention or anthropological detail was put ...more
Anne Laure
3,5/5 en réalité
Lecture agréable. Auteur américain mais humour so british.
Keri
Jan 25, 2011 Keri rated it liked it
As most of the reviews indicated, this is a cute and quirky little book, but nothing earth-shattering or nail-biting about it. I thought I had the ending figured out but I was wrong so that was a surprise. The character names were a bit odd, some hard to pronounce or know how they were supposed to be pronounced. I'm not sure why the author did that. I wouldn't go out of my way to suggest this book to anyone but if they found it themselves, I would not suggest they don't read it. Could I be anymo ...more
Jessica Howard
Mar 19, 2008 Jessica Howard rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Felt rather like a British cozy, but was set in Indiana. The tale of a hapless linguist, Jeremy Cook, unable to decide whether or not people like him, who is caught up in a series of deaths surrounding the Wabash Institute. The institute is a place where linguists study the vocal habits of toddlers, who attend a day care there. Some interesting linguistic tidbits, and an inventive use of toddler speak to catch the killer, but all in all, I didn't really care about the characters, which makes a m ...more
Stéphane
Very funny! And considering that it was written in the eighties it has not aged.
Stefanie
May 12, 2012 Stefanie rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Johannes Kanig
Jul 11, 2013 Johannes Kanig rated it liked it
I liked the first half or so of this novel a lot: the relationships between the researchers, and the reflections of the main character, are well described, subtle and funny. However, thinking about it now, the murder case seems like an excuse to describe this microcosm, and many events and side-plots don't make sense even when the novel is finished (why was the journalist killed, or why was he even in the book?). The ending seems rushed and is disappointing ...
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