Adam'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
Jul 15, 2012

it was amazing

Holy crap is this book good. I don't really even have the words for it.
It is worthy entrant into the Canon on mystery novels (such as it is.)

I have read so many god-damned books where the author is declared to be a worthy successor to
chandler or hammett, and with the exception of robert b. parker at his pinnacle, or robert crais, at his pinnacle,
I have always been disapointed.*

And this book wasn't even advertised as the worthy successor to hammett. But oh my is it ever.

The novel is so very brilliant because it succeeds on three levels. The first, it is a precise encoding
of the experience we want to have when we read mystery novels. The identity of the Detective is important. Detectives are born, not made--they discover in themselves the need to find the Truth, and from there
it is pre-ordained that they shall, in time, find themselves working as licensed private eyes.** In this world, mysteries are
Named and have registered: The Murder on Rue Temple, The Mystery of the Green Parrot. The detective who is wary of the clues
being presented cannot help but find the truth, even when, inevitably, the truth is something no one wants to hear.

Secondly, the novel is a noirish, The Wire influenced portrait of post-Katrina New Orleans.*** The ruined city truly comes to
life with vivid descriptions of city before during and after "The Storm," as do each of the rich and complex characters. No one in
this novel is really good, but no one is entirely evil either.

Thirdly, the novel lays seeds for a truly awesome saga. Although the central Mystery (the Mystery of the Green Parrot) is
thoroughly resolved, there are many Mysteries that are introduced but not solved. Better still, there is a tantalizing
preview into what's next for Claire Dewitt, which although it is foreshadowed early is not truly revelaed until the end and i will say, it's a doozy.
I simply cannot wait for the next Claire Dewitt novel.

My obligatory complaints? I found Claire DeWitt's pervasive drug use and mysticism vaguely irritating. A few of the plot pieces
could have been better integrated. But these are minor: I am deeply impressed by the writing in the book. Seriously, is the next one out yet? How about now?


* I am looking squarely at you, p.g. sturges.
** Don't all we mystery readers, deep down, want to believe that we too will someday discover our inner Detective?
*** That reminds me, I need to watch Treme one of these days.
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