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Dope Hardcover – February 2, 2006
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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I really enjoy the work of Sara Gran. It's always unpretentious and written in a very simplistic manner; but, this book, like Come Closer, left me wanting a bit more. Like she's so talented that I feel she could have gone that extra mile to propel the story from really good to great, but didn't.
But this is a great read perfect for a lazy summer day on the beach.
While the story itself is interesting, the true beauty of this novel is the local color -- the sense of hopelessness in a community of losers: drug addicts, taxi dancers, street girls. I haven't read anything so engrossing on the subject since I read William Bourroughs's book Junkie.
This is an excellent book and should be widely read in the mystery genre. My only regret is that the end seems to indicate (and I am not going to spoil it here) that Joe won't be doing any more detecting. I could have happily read a dozen stories about her.