Friday, June 17, 2011

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran

I've been trying to read more adult books lately with the idea that I'll be able to predict some of the next year's Alex Award winners. It's sort of a futile task, but that's why I picked up this one. It didn't hurt that it was set in New Orleans and I'll be headed out there for ALA this year (woo!). It turns out Claire, our main protagonist might be a bit on the hard side (she's a tough cookie this one) for this to make it an Alex winner, and it also served to freak me out royally about New Orleans, but hey, I enjoyed it a lot. And isn't that the point?

Claire DeWitt was a little hard to like. She's awfully distant, often in a drug/alcohol induced haze, and she's sarcastic and a little mean. At times you will question whether of not she's a reliable narrator. However, if you let her, she'll win you over. She's the world's best detective (so she says anyway, but I tend to believe her) who follows the unconventional methods of detection set out in the book Detection written by an "enigmatic French detective." Basically, nothing is off the table: prophetic dreams, buying illegal guns from kids, hard drugs, soft drugs, gut feelings and the belief that nothing is a coincidence.

The mystery is really well plotted and I loved how the author tied in bits of Claire's history and made it relevant to the story. There are a lot of bits and pieces going on here and as we learn more about Claire we start to understand her motivations and her complexities. It really is a bit of a roller coaster ride and I loved it start to finish.

This is the first in a series and I can't wait for the next title. I imagine it is only going to get better.

Book Source = Library Copy


joanna said...

I'm reading a potential Alex nominee (insert shock here)- Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. I have to say my expectations were very very high and I'm kind of disappointed, but I'm also not finished. I'll let you know how it goes.

Patti said...

I've got a hold on it, but it hasn't come yet. I'll be interested to hear what you say. I've been waiting FOREVER for Bossypants by Tina Fey too. APL's bought about a gazillion copies and the request list is still several miles long.

I'm reading The Night Circus by [someone i can't remember] and so far really liking it.

joanna said...

I'm working on a post about it right now. It should be up tomorrow - so don't cheat and read it in the edits!

Website said...

"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.