Annmarie's Reviews > Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran
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's review
May 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery, new-orleans
Read from May 08 to 11, 2011

Very different sort of mystery, and quite good. Claire DeWitt is the best detective in the world (according to her), and she's just been hired to find Leon Salvatore's uncle Vic, a D.A. in New Orleans, missing for about a year and a half since Hurricane Katrina.

Using the methods of the famous detective Jacques Silette, as detailed in his tome Détection (apparently fictional, but seems oh so weirdly real), the tattooed young Claire sets to work... casting I Ching hexagrams to see what they portend, wandering around the tattered, dangerous city chatting with street youths like Andray and Terrell, smoking joints with them that have a little extra synthetic kick, and waiting for the clues to reveal themselves. It's kind of like detecting as the mutant love child of a Sherlock Holmes, Nostradamus, and Zen Master threesome. Claire does eventually solve the mystery, but the truly interesting story is the fascinating portrayal (and indictment) of a shell shocked, devastated and corrupt New Orleans, the glimpses of its former vibrancy, and the gradual and partial revealing of Claire's troubled history with its own mystery.

The drug overuse and zen detecting mysticism weren't quite to my taste so I wasn't altogether sucked into the story, but it was interesting and well written. I'm not sure that any librarians should read it before the annual conference held in New Orleans this summer, as they may then be fearful of leaving their hotel rooms. :) I read this courtesy of a galley from the publisher and NetGalley.

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