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Dope Paperback – February 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After her well-received horror tale Come Closer, you can't blame Gran for trying her hand at a 1950s noir, but her turns on stripped-down conventions are less sharp this time out. Gran's heroine, Josephine "Joe" Flannigan, is a former heroin addict and hooker who has recast herself as a petty thief and con. Working her home turf, New York City's Hell's Kitchen, she is taken up by a mysterious well-to-do couple offering her $1,000 up front and another $1,000 on delivery to find their addict daughter, expelled from Barnard and lost to the streets. The reader never actually sees Joe do any thieving or conning, because she's got that $1,000 to ride on. Instead, Joe's search for the missing coed takes her on a cliché-ridden tour of the bare apartments and public parks frequented by the junkies who used to be her friends. (And it's the '50s, so teenagers listen to 45s, and black Chevrolets are still cool.) Joe's troubled relationship with little sister Shelley is a very engaging conflict, but Gran doesn't bring them together often enough. It never occurs to Joe that she may be being conned herself, and her hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold routine wears thin, but she's easy to root for. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It's 1950, and former heroin addict and hooker Josephine Flannigan (Joe or Joey to her friends) has been going straight for two years. She still boosts jewelry from department stores, but for her, she's practically living square. When a wealthy Long Island couple hires her to help find their daughter, whose own dope habit led her astray from Barnard, Flannigan has an opportunity for a new kind of score. Her search takes her through flophouses and shooting galleries, dance halls and whorehouses--and her own past as well. Flannigan is a well-conceived and original heroine, likable herself and keenly sympathetic to all the little crooked people who constitute her world. Her voice doesn't quite sound like a streetwise ninth-grade dropout--and a few more convincing details would help us believe her bleak background--but those quibbles shouldn't keep anyone from reading this book. Good plot twists and a great noir ending seal the deal. Gran's previous books (Saturn's Return to New York, 2001; Come Closer, 2003) are in very different styles; perhaps she's finding herself in crime. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425214362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425214367
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Gran is the author of Saturn's Return to New York (2001), Come Closer (2003), Dope (2006), and the forthcoming Claire DeWitt & The City of the Dead (2011), the first in a series of novels featuring private eye Claire DeWitt. Her work has been published in over a dozen countries and as many languages. Her books have been optioned for film by Miramax, Dimension, and Paramount. Born in Brooklyn in 1971, Ms. Gran lived in New York City until 2004. Since then she has traveled widely and lived throughout the US including Miami and New Orleans. She now resides in the state of California. Before making a living as a writer, Ms. Gran had many jobs, primarily with books, working at Manhattan bookstores like Shakespeare & Co, The Strand, and Housing Works, and selling used & rare books on her own.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Eddolls on February 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
I liked this book more than I had anticipated. Sara Gran is an author I had not heard of but one that I can appreciate. Josephine is a strong leading character in that her addiction, her desire for more junk after two years of "clean living," as well as the toxic relationships with acquaintances from the underground of the dope world ring true and are believable. However, the descriptions of her shoplifting sprees and her relationship with her model sister seem undeveloped. These are key to Josephine's character and to the plot; and I believe that Gran could have "connected the dots" to create an intertwining of the chords of the characters and the impact of the events of their lives that are essential to their growth and as well as to their demise. We are, after all, either shaped by our experiences or our left to our own misshapen selves always moving toward the center of darkness or in light. The novel is realistic in reflecting such an idea.

I found the plot to be entertaining and her characters, especially the Hell's Kitchen crowd, were strong. However, the ending was a disappointment and the foundation for the wrap up was in no way sufficient enough to support the strengths of other parts of the book.

I would read the book again and I would recommend it to a friend because of its images of the palatable pain that the characters exude in their addiction and the ensuing fractured existence.

It is engaging and, especially for a new author, ambitious and raw. However, my recommendation would come with the warning not to lean on the ending and not to expect everything to be connected by a cohesive unending thread.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead--a smart, alternative noir mystery--I was left craving for more. Dope, an earlier novel with some of the same gritty vibe, is set in the petty thieving underworld of 1950's New York, a place that in no way resembles anything from Happy Days. Josephine, a former addict, straight for two years, is just getting by picking pockets and shoplifting jewelry when she is paid a colossal pile of cash by a distraught couple who wants her to locate their drug addicted, college drop-out daughter. Using all her former drug connections and street smarts, Josephine is closing in when she discovers she has been betrayed by someone who must know her well, but who? Dope winds around, filled with twists and reversals, right down to its startling culmination.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In 1950 in Manhattan, Josephine Flannigan has stayed off the drugs for about two years while working at Tiffany's where she pilfers jewelry to sell, supplementing her income. She meets Nathaniel and Maybelline Wilson of Westchester County in the law offices of Jackson, Smith & Alexander. Nathaniel tells her that Nick "the Greek" suggested she could help them find their nineteen years old daughter Nadine, a Bernard drop-out hooked on drugs, who vanished three months ago in the city with a boyfriend Jerry McFall. They provide her with a retainer of $1000 and another $1000 if successful.

Though she has never done anything like this and has no idea which Nick the Greek recommended her as that is a common street name, she accepts the case. Joe begins searching the mean streets of hell's Kitchens seeking out the pimps on the assumption that would be the only way Nadine could pay for her habit as he knows form first hand experience. However, danger lurks on every corner and with every stranger as well as the threat of returning to the environs where she first embraced drugs.

Set just after World War II, DOPE is a gritty look at the underside of Manhattan where the drop-outs from the Blackboard Jungle die easily with no one to grieve them. The story line pulls no punches with its in your guts glimpse of the mean streets where drugs and prostitution are king and queen while the euphoria of victory in Europe and the Pacific is someone else's celebration. Joe is a fabulous heroine who knows the peril that walks everywhere she goes in search of the Westchester runaway as pimps and sellers do not want anyone interfering with their assets.

Harriet Klausner
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on May 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Only if you have not recently read Hammett, Chandler and co could you be satisfied with this unpersuasive rehash of the American post-war 'noir' thriller. Gran may love the sassy language of this period, and find echoes of its dark wit, but she brings nothing sufficiently new to the genre to make this exercise worthwhile. Many classic genre novels were actually quite ropy in the plot department, but Gran seems to think this an excuse to follow suit, and hers is thin to a degree that most contempory crime writers would find unacceptable. Being a contemporary novel there is more drugs and more in-your-face nastiness than in noir novels of the past; but all that kind of thing is handled with far more panache and impact by James Ellroy ('LA Confidential', 'The Black Dahlia', 'The Big Nowhere' etc.).

I enjoyed Gran's last short novel, 'Come Closer', although that too suffered from a lack of story development, hence its extreme brevity. But this is a step in the wrong direction.
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