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Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Claire DeWitt Novels) by [Gran, Sara]
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Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Claire DeWitt Novels) Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 206 customer reviews

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Length: 289 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Beautifully written in a tight, quirky style that distinguishes Gran as one of the more original writers working today.”
       —Associated Press
(BookPage)

“The mystery captures post-Katrina New Orleans like no other novel yet has . . .DeWitt’s mesmerizing character and memorable voice take your breath away.”
       —The Times-Picayune
(The Atlantic)

“The most unusual, intelligent thriller I have read for a long time.”
       —Express (UK)
(New York Times)

“The mystery of Vic Willing’s disappearance pulls you in, but Gran’s enticing characters will keep you hooked.”
       —BookPage
(Philadelphia CityPaper)

“With Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, Gran elevates the detective story as literature and brings together a sophisticated mystery, a witty, antagonistic private eye, and a city she knows too well.”
       —The Atlantic
(Salon)

“The dead-eyed face of post-Katrina New Orleans that stares out from Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is every bit as raw as the battered mug [Gran] drew of 1950s Brooklyn in Dope. But hope is on the way in the exotic person of Claire DeWitt. . . Claire is a charmer, but there’s nothing cute about her paranormal visions of a city living in torment.”
       —New York Times
(Publishers Weekly)

“A high-proof Nancy Drew drawn straight from the tradition of an opiated Holmes.”
       —Philadelphia CityPaper


“delicious and addictive.”
       —Salon


“Provides narration that is both engaging and entertaining. . . . Carol Monda perfectly renders Claire’s sarcastic repartee and keeps this tightly paced narrative moving quickly.”
      —Publishers Weekly

Review

“Terrific. I love this book! Absolutely love it. This is the first fresh literary voice I've heard in years. Sara Gran recombines all the elements of good, solid story-telling and lifts something original from a well-loved form.”
      —Sue Grafton (Sue Grafton)

Product Details

  • File Size: 2087 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 2, 2011)
  • Publication Date: May 11, 2011
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X7QMB2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,748 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Claire DeWitt and the City of The Dead by Sara Gran tells the story of private detective Claire DeWitt's investigation of the death of ADA Vic Willing in post-Katrina New Orleans. Willing's nephew Leon hires Claire ("...people said you were the best.") when his uncle disappears without a trace after the storm. Leon's own search has yielded little, so he asks Claire to take on the case even though she warns him he may not like what she finds.

Claire, originally from Brooklyn, hasn't been back to New Orleans since the death of her mentor Constance Darling several years ago. Although she lacks Constance's wide net of contacts in the city, Claire is both well-trained and a natural detective, relying on her instincts, dreams, omens, the I-Ching, herbal substances, and a book called Detection by a famous and mysterious French detective called Jacques Silette, which is frequently referred to in the novel (the quotes from and references to Silette are one of the things I especially enjoyed about the book). Claire meets up with old acquaintances and makes new ones during her investigation, which indeed reveals more about Leon's uncle than he cares to know. Claire sticks with the frustrating case even when her life is in danger.

The novel is full of vivid characters and presents a depressing yet fascinating portrait of after-the-storm New Orleans. Even the minor characters, such as a homeless woman in a park, are memorable. Gran has a knack for description both of people and places. Her story moves along at a good pace. I liked both the procedural details and the less conventional methods Claire employs to figure out what happened to Vic. Claire is both brilliant and self-destructive; you marvel at her and want to slap her at the same time.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What happened to Vic Willing of New Orleans in the days after Katrina? His nephew, Leon, has fallen heir to Vic's fortune and the rich contents of the apartment on Bourbon Street that never got flooded. He last saw his uncle months before the storm and called him with an offer to help evacuate. Now he's willing to spend some of the money just to know what happened to his uncle, a man he barely knew.

A homeless man saw Vic alive in the days after Katrina. It's known he survived the storm. So what happened? Claire DeWitt is called in on the case and isn't that happy about it. After all there are missing people in her life, too.

Since Vic was the one Assistant District Attorney in New Orleans who wasn't corrupt, the easiest solution to the mystery is that someone took the opportunity to get revenge.

But Claire guided by her own instincts and by an obscure how-to manual on detection rejects the easy solutions.

This novel is both a mystery and a rumination on the mysteries of life--it can drive a reader crazy to watch Claire, boozed up and stoned most of the time, stumble through the ruined wards and lawless streets in apparently aimless fashion, making mistakes, jumping to conclusions and running smack into blind alleys. Every setback is an excuse for quoting from Claire's Bible, the 1959 edition of Jacques Silette's Detection. This book is full of mystic observations on the life of the detective that after a time grates on the reader as pretentious claptrap.

Claire herself is like a Nancy Drew, twenty years older and stoned...or a female Sherlock Holmes, making deductions that are absolutely brilliant...or off-base. The setting of New Orleans, storm-ravaged and irrevocably changed by the reconstruction is breathtaking and heartbreaking.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mystery novels are a new subject for me. "Claire DeWitt and City of the dead" was a "that's sounds like an interesting book" spur moment grab for me. I was very surprised by the richness of the detail and the realness of the characters. The story was always believable with nice twists and turns to the investigating and the detective's clues. The ending is a surprise as well as enjoyable. This book is well worth reading if for no other reason than just learning about New Orleans after the storm. The life of the average person in the city comes alive. Unlike news stories, the people of New Orleans become individuals that you can relate to and want to get to know better. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Claire DeWitt is The World's Greatest Private Eye. How do I know? Because she and Sara Gran tell me so. Unfortunately, nothing else DeWitt does or that Gran has written about her in this muddled, meandering mystery supports such a grandiose claim. As a character, DeWitt certainly has potential: she's a tough, tattooed PI who uses her drug-induced dreams to lead her towards clarity and insight where her cases are concerned. But is she more than a jumble of characteristics and neuroses? Is she an actual person I care about or would want to follow through a new mystery series? Not at the moment. She's far too self-involved and smug. Being a private eye "will bleed you dry," she tells us at the end of her tale. "No one ever says, Hey, maybe the PI needs a break. Hey let's buy the PI a drink. No thank-you cards, no flowers, no singing telegrams, and half the time you don't even get paid." Can you imagine Kinsey Milhone or Tess Monaghan sharing (or even feeling) such self-pity? At least if they did it would be with some humor; perhaps a wink to say "Okay, just kidding." Because DeWitt's done nothing prior to engender our respect or good will, in her mouth it comes across as dead serious whining.

What author Sara Gran does well is paint a picture of the blighted nightmare that post-Katrina New Orleans has become. We get a chillingly detailed vision of the hopelessness, indifference and rage with which the underclass wakes up every day. Atmospherically, the book is on very solid ground.
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