Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Books: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran

This was a wonderfully unusual detective story with several hard-boiled twists that make it uniquely appealing. Claire DeWitt, the main character, is a hard bitten private eye who came into the business via a mysterious book she discovered as a child. Using this book as her guide, and a lost friend as a guide star, she traveled to New Orleans to apprentice under the mysterious master detective known as Candice. DeWitt had not been back to New Orleans since Candice's death and the city's own near-death at the hands of Hurricane Katrina, but is lured to return by the promise of a payday from a man looking for news of his uncle, presumed lost in the storm. Returning to one's former home is never easy, and Claire is shocked by the state of the city in the wake of the natural disaster. Turning back layer upon layer of the story, she finds a tale that is much deeper and more sordid than she had previously imagined. Sara Gran is an excellent storyteller and in Claire DeWitt, she has created a masterstroke of a character (which will hopefully be continued in a series) and populates the city with a wild bunch of supporting characters from depressive social workers, to gun-toting gangbangers. Claire is about as far from Nancy Drew and Stephanie Plum as you can get, but if you are looking for a gritty and well written crime novel, this is one of the year's finest. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead - amazon.com

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