Claire DeWitt And The City Of The Dead
Author: Sara Gran
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Sara Gran has written a novel about an unprecedented private investigator named Claire DeWitt. Destiny, it seems, has chosen Claire to be a detective, planting a copy of the enigmatic bookDétection in her path as a teenager. Claire has grabbed this destiny with both hands but fate has been cruel. Twenty years later detection is her religion and Détection is her Bible.
Now she is summoned to New Orleans, because someone has heard she is “the best,” to search for an upstanding citizen lost in the miasma of Katrina. The battered and beggared New Orleans, second only to Claire, is the star of this story. Thus the title.
The style is slick, gripping, and mystical, as strange and as easy as the character of Claire DeWitt. You may be repelled by her earthiness or mesmerized by her off-the-wall devotion to her calling.
Though planned as the beginning of a series, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is itself a complete novel.
Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant deductive skills and is an ace at discovering evidence. But Claire also uses her dreams, omens, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries, and relies on Détection — the only book published by the late, great, and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette. The tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has just arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans, the city she’s avoided since her mentor, Silette’s student Constance Darling, was murdered there. Claire is investigating the disappearance of Vic Willing, a prosecutor known for winning convictions in a homicide- plagued city. Has an angry criminal enacted revenge on Vic? Or did he use the storm as a means to disappear? Claire follows the clues, finding old friends and making new enemies — foremost among them Andray Fairview, a young gang member who just might hold the key to the mystery.
Littered with memories of Claire’s years as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is a knockout start to a bracingly original new series.
I had a pretty strong reaction towards this book. I didn’t like how New Orleans was portrayed (I know there is crime there but this book make it sound like it was the bowels of hell). I didn’t like Claire (really, smoking with kids and buying guns off them?). And I didn’t like Claire’s opinions (Caucasians would never choose to live in New Orleans because of how bad it is).
I didn’t like the book, I didn’t like the characters and I didn’t like the plot. I wanted to. But I couldn’t.