If you are tired of crime novels featuring down-on-their-luck male investigators/detectives who are lonely and drink too much, maybe it is time for a change of pace. Perhaps Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran can help you out of that rut. Except that Claire DeWitt is a lonely female PI who drinks too much and enjoys a bit of drugs as well.
Claire may not sound so different, but I assure you, this book is unique. First, there is Détection, a book by the late French detective Jacques Silette. Claire follows the writings of Détection as if it is a detective’s philosophical handbook. This book was mentioned so much that I began to wonder if perhaps this French detective was a real person. (He’s not.)
The next interesting item is that the book takes place in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Claire does not look kindly upon New Orleans and the descriptions make the setting seem dismal. While the city of New Orleans in disrepair, the teens of New Orleans are also in disrepair. I was reminded me of The Wire – if a hurricane devastated Hamsterdam. There are guns and drugs and kids. Some of the kids are straight up thugs and some of the kids are thugs that are trying to do the right thing.
I assure you that Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is a different kind of crime novel. I am not sure that I can describe it in a way that gives it justice. It is a mystery with a bit of surrealism thrown in. Claire has dreams that blur with reality. I definitely look forward to the second book in the series. I want to see Claire’s character develop a little more, and I want to revisit some of the other characters from City of the Dead.
Many thanks to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for providing me with an e-Galley, via NetGalley.
Side note: I was trying to finish this book and review it by the publish date earlier this week (although I think it was actually available in late May), but I am a bit ashamed to admit that I was seriously distracted by Plants vs Zombies, which sucked up
some a lot of reading time