"A Philosophical Investigation", by Philip Kerr

A Philosophical Investigation - Philip Kerr
Philip Kerr wrote this thriller in 1992 and has staged a futuristic vision to his most original idea. He has mixed cyber punkish techno language with a serial killer detective mystery and added strong philosophical, psychological and sociological terms for depth. One could say in those years this complex science fiction techno-thriller was highly thoughtful. Today’s reader will probably see the denouement with a deferent light and perspective. 

The year is 2013, London has been chosen for a pilot project called “Lombraso”, the program is to identify and track male citizens who are genetically predisposed to be aggressively violent. The database has been an excellent tool to law enforcement. When a serial killer appears to be stalking and killing the individuals whose code names appears on the records. In this case, the killer’s code name is “Wittgenstein” named after the famous philosopher, his language and mind set both were highly influenced by the genius’ ideas….and were the root of most of his problems. 

Detective Chief Inspector Isadora Jakowicz (Jake) is assigned to the case and the cat and mouse game begins…..and the inevitable showdown….. (I will spare you the many details).

The narrative unfolds from a dual perspective: Wittgenstein's, and the female police lieutenant, “Jake", assigned to catch him. Wittgenstein's portion is told from the first person as a diary of his assassinations and subsequent downfall; the detective's portion is told in a more traditional third-person perspective. Along the narrative are citations from works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and other philosophers. In my view, the frequent philosophical discussions were overplayed and for me this brain teasing game became a huge distraction. Unfortunately the plot mystery side was overshadowed by the weight of too many philosophical ideas and with this the story suffered and felt underdeveloped. This story may have been a fascinating one in 1992 but many years later it is just the run of the mill type.

With this said even if “A Philosophical Investigation” is far from being a favourite I am still one of Mr. Kerr’s biggest fans and will not hesitate to gradually read all of his books.