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Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Claire DeWitt Novels) Paperback – May 1, 2012
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"I just burned through Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, and it's the first truly fantastic book I've read this year. Gran's evocation of the exposed wounds of New Orleans - before and after the storm - is a master-class in descriptive and emotive writing, and Claire is one of the most exciting new characters in years; a Raymond Chandler heroine with just enough of an off-beat vibe to tilt the whole thing enticingly off-kilter. Everything here - from the smallest touches to the grander mythology setting the tone of the series - just sings."--Drew Williams, Little Professor Book Center"Not your mother's girl detective, Claire DeWitt is a cool blend of Nancy Drew and Sid Vicious. With Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, Sara Gran has pulled the traditional female sleuth into the twenty-first century with a novel that's smart and hip, dark and funny. I can't wait for the next one." - Alafair Burke, author of LONG GONE"Gran (Dope, 2006, etc.) provides...a comically self-important detective and a searing portrait of post-Katrina New Orleans."--Kirkus Reviews
"As brash and bold as Sherlock Holmes himself, Claire DeWitt arrives in still-chaotic New Orleans 18 months after Katrina. She's been hired to investigate the disappearance of Vic Willing, a local prosecutor, who's not been heard from since the hurricane. Claire surprises the local gangtsa set with her unique bravado. One of them, Andray, is compelled to help her tap into the darkness of Katrina's aftermath. From there, Claire finds her answers. Mentored and deeply inspired by a famous French detective, the I Ching, and profoundly illuminating dreams, a complex Claire leads us into her own nightmares as well. VERDICT This is not to be missed-Claire is a moody, hip, and meticulous investigator. Gran (Dope; Come Closer) builds an addictive sense of anticipation with a fantastical frame. Alternately gritty and dreamy, this would appeal to those who liked Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist and readers of Charlie Huston (e.g., The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death). Highly recommended." --Library Journal STARRED
"Captivating"--Publishers Weekly, STARRED"If there isn’t yet a subgenre called funky noir, this wacky PI novel could be a fragrant first...lots of fun."--BooklistPRAISE FROM BOOKSELLERS (PRE-PUB TOUR)"Thanks again for such a wonderful experience last week. I love how HMH and Algonquin are bringing writers to the booksellers ahead of publication date because it makes such a difference having that personal knowledge of the author. And when the authors are *awesome* like Sara is, it makes their books stand out more in my mind, and thus makes me more likely to try to handsell their books. Sure, we all try to sell the books we like and we think a customer will like, but when there's a personal connection with the author, it feels more like we're introducing new readers to not just a book, but a friend."--Emily Crowe, Odyssey Book Shop"Sara Gran is awesome. Don’t let her small, bespectacled frame deceive you; she’s a firecracker with fascinating stories to tell, and she has an obvious, passionate love of her craft. I could have talked to her for hours. And I love her book so far; it’s terrifically different from so many other mysteries I’ve read. And with regard to New Orleans: she really knows her stuff.I DO very much like the pre-publicity dinners, and not just because of the free booze. It encourages me to read books I might not ordinarily pick up (*Sara’s being an exception, as it’s right up my alley), and talking at length with the author about why they wrote the book, their background, etc. all helps me to sell their book." --Hilary Emerson Lay, Spirit of '76 Bookstore"We had a blast with you, Carla and Sara. I think these sorts of pre-pub events are very worth it. I do believe they help generate enthusiasm for a book and an author which helps generate sales. Of course, Sara is an author that it's easy to be enthusiastic about. She's genuine, smart, fun and quick to forge connections. That is, we like her very much. Being a former bookseller, she's kin and you can feel that. In a good way. Like when you meet a cousin you barely know but like instantly. She's our cousin who has made good and we're sorry we don't get to see her more because she lives on the wrong side of the country."--Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore "The novel, Gran's fourth, is difficult to categorize, offering a strangely appealing mix of the mystical and the hard-boiled. The book is beautifully written in a tight, quirky style that distinguishes Gran as one of the more original writers working today."--Bruce DeSilva, Associated Press
From the Inside Flap
Claire DeWitt is the world's greatest PI, a one-time teen detective in Brooklyn and follower of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette, whose mysterious handbook "Detection" has led Claire to use the "I-Ching, " omens, prophetic dreams, and mind-expanding drugs. Claire also has deep roots in New Orleans, where she was mentored by the brilliant Constance Darling--until Darling was murdered. When a respected New Orleans DA goes missing during Hurricane Katrina, she returns to her newly wrecked former city to find out why. The clues lead her to Andray Fairview, a young man who had nothing to lose before the storm and has less now. Finding old friends and making new enemies, Claire solves the case, but she's haunted by others gone missing: her best friend and partner in detection, who disappeared from a New York City subway station in 1986, and Jacques Silette's daughter, Belle, stolen from a hotel room and never heard from again. " Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead" is a knockout start to a bracingly original new series.
Top customer reviews
I stuck with this book until the end, hoping for a payoff that never came. However, the author's feel for New Orleans is terrific and I have the impression that her character of Claire DeWitt could be developed into something fascinating with a more deftly plotted book.
Claire is unlikeable, but that's OK with me. Just give me a story worthy of her quirky character.
Bottom line: Buy it if you love New Orleans, and stories that take place in New Orleans with a slightly occult bent. If you're looking for a standard detective novel, keep on moving as there's nothing to see here.
Because I was so carried away with the book, I read the reviews after I read the book to see what others' response was. I was actually stunned by some of the reviews. It's always an eye-opener to see how people filter literature through their own experiences. I went into the experience expecting to read a book about New Orleans. If I had bought the book because it is in the mystery category, I might have had a different response. For me book has holds many layers and levels of meaning.
I can hardly wait to read more by this author.
Claire DeWitt advertises herself as the world's greatest private investigator. As such, she accepts a case in recent post-Katrina New Orleans. Her client is the nephew of Vic Willing. The case is to find out what happened to this the city's wealthy district attorney who disappeared during the flooding after the hurricane.
Every now and then, an author comes along with a voice and style that it is almost impossible to describe, quantify, or explain. That was my reaction to Ms. Gran's first book, "Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead". At its heart, it's a classic hard-boiled mystery, complete with drugs, guns, liquor and bad guys. Than intermix with that a detective who was trained by a wealth New Orleans woman, Constance Darling, and the book "Détection" by Jacque Silette..."Clues are the most misunderstood part of detection. Novice detectives think it's about "finding" clues. But detective work is about "recognizing" clues"... plus a layer of dreams, intuition..."Never be afraid to learn from the ether. ...That's where knowledge lives before someone hunts it, kills it, and mounts it in a book.", and the I-Ching, and you have something that is unique and wonderful.
Claire is anything but your usual female detective. She's from Brooklyn, she knows death and drugs and liquor. She's not a comfortable protagonist. We learn details of her past and life throughout the story. What is interesting is that every character Gran creates is vivid and memorable, including those who don't exist such as Constance and Silette. It's a story that doesn't really have any minor players, only short scene.
Gran's descriptions are powerful. New Orleans is a city unlike any other yet, particularly in this time setting, she does not make any effort to romanticize it. It is ugly, violent, sad, desperate and very real. Remarkably, however, at the end we're left with a sense of hope, both for the city and the characters. You want to know what becomes of them, even if they break your heart.
The true sign of a book that stands above the usual, is that it makes you stop and consider..."What will fill the void left by the missing person?...Who will now breathe his air, eat his food marry his wife? Who will fill his seat at the university lecture, the foot ball game, in the old armchair at home?..." Gran has a different perspective than I've ever found.
The story's plot may not always be the easiest to follow, but it is so worth paying attention to every word and every clue and giving each page a bit of thought. That's easy to do as it is thoroughly and completely engrossing. There are times it may seem trite or pretentious, but you then find yourself going back and reading sections again because something about them resonates. Only because I needed to sleep at night, did I ever put it down.
"Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead" is a remarkable book. I suspect you will either love it or wonder whether I was indulging in one of Claire's vices.
CLAIRE DEWITT AND THE CITY OF THE DEAD (PI-Claire Dewitt-New Orleans-Cont) - Ex
Gran, Sara - 1st in series
Mariner Books - 2011
Most recent customer reviews
Multiple levels of mystery with an overlay of drug trippiness.
A fascinating read with many interesting twists and turns.Read more