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A Philosophical Investigation

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


A terrifyingly prescient cult classic by the bestselling author of the Bernie Gunther series. 

“Chilling...absorbing...part techno-thriller, part futuristic detective story, part diary of a serial killer.”—The New York Times Book Review

LONDON, 2013. Serial killings have reached epidemic proportions—even with the widespread government use of DNA detection, brain-imaging, and the “punitive coma.” Beautiful, whip-smart, and driven by demons of her own, Detective Isadora “Jake” Jacowicz must stop a murderer, code-named “Wittgenstein,” who has taken it upon himself to eliminate any man who has tested posi­tive for a tendency towards violent behavior—even if his victim has never committed a crime. He is a killer whose intellectual brilliance is matched only by his homicidal madness.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 29, 1993 – Semantics, epistemology and serial murder share center stage in this imaginative but unconvincing near-future thriller. The year is 2013, and European researchers have discovered a physiological basis for violent criminal tendencies in men. The Lombroso program in Britain screens possible subjects and maintains a database of those diagnosed with the condition, as aids to law enforcement--serial killings have become terrifyingly common. When a previously law-abiding pharmacist is diagnosed as ``VDM-negative'' (potentially dangerous), he breaks into the program's computer system, removes his name from the records and begins systematically assassinating other men on the list. In London, Chief Inspector Isadora ``Jake'' Jakowicz takes on the case and begins a philosophical cat-and-mouse game with the killer, code-named Wittgenstein. Kerr ( A German Requiem ) interpolates passages from the murderer's journals into the third-person narrative, along with citations from the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein and other philosophers. But the cliches and improbabilities of the plot are not camouflaged by their outlandish context, as Kerr overplays his most original ideas, delivering the details of his futuristic vision in a distracting gee-whiz manner. The frequent philosophical discussions, as they are drawn out, become less convincing and more ostentatious.

Customer Reviews

The clue is in the title

Kerr is one of the best but even Jesus fell.
The book is at its best pedantic and undeserving of publication. Kerr, an excellent writer, turns unpublishable nonsense into what? There is no character who draws the reader into the story or the useless debate.
Save your money. Buy any of Kerr's other books. Treat yourself to the Berlin Noir books.
Be warned: spend your time and money elsewhere.

A Philosophical Investigation

A brilliant, philosophic, mind-probing book. Completely out of character with Kerr's later protagonist (detective series). I believe this book predates the latter, being first published in 1993. It was certainly prescient. The concept of punitive coma must surely be around the corner....wouldn't it be something if this dreadful concept came into usage in the year 2013!!

Hard-Boiled Cyberpunk Mystery Thriller

At it’s heart, A Philosophical Investigation is a terrific yarn about a police team trying to track down a serial killer. However, like all great science fiction, Kerr’s novel operates on an allegorical level as well, and explores themes along the lines of the possible implications of technology on our collective and individual psychology and morality. A Philosophical Investigation is definitely on my to re-read list. Not to be missed.

A Philosophical Investigation
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Published: Apr 27, 2010
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings