That's what happened for me with The Manual of Detection. Everything about this book is lovely. The green color, the arresting eye staring at you from the cover, the book description, and all the rest. But the story just devolves into a confusing mess reminiscent of all those nested dreams from Inception, but without Leonardo di Caprio to save the day, and it is too much for a reader - especially one reading via audiobook - to understand what's happening.
The book is about Charles Unwin, a clerk for The Agency who one day finds himself promoted to detective. He is unhappy with this promotion and tries to get the clerical error fixed. But his boss's boss is dead at his desk, and it seems like to fix the error, Unwin will have to solve a mystery. Good thing he has his trusty assistant Emily the narcoleptic to help!
Mystery-wise, this book reminded me a lot of the Carmen Sandiego franchise. Just like Carmen Sandiego was able to literally "steal" the show or the Eiffel Tower or the Mason-Dixon line, people in The Manual of Detection stole November 12th, the oldest murdered man (a description I still don't understand - is it the oldest man ever murdered, or the first man ever murdered?), and other sensational items.
I honestly did not understand this book. I enjoyed the first third of it a lot - the writing style is really quirky and fun and had a very film noir feel to it. But at some point, it all stopped making sense, especially in the audiobook version where I couldn't flip back a few pages to understand what level of reality/dream sequence I was on. By the fifth of eight parts on audiobook, I was ready for it to be done so that I could move on.
It's unfortunate because the cover really is so pretty! But the story just wasn't a success for me.