Lucinda'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
Sep 03, 2011

really liked it

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011) introduces Claire DeWitt, the self-declared world’s foremost private investigator. Claire moved to New Orleans to work for Constance Darling, who taught her five-coin I Ching interpretation, the esoteric art of reading fingerprints, and the French detective Jacques Stillete’s esoteric method of detection. After Constance was killed, Claire left New Orleans, returning reluctantly post-Katrina to search for Vic Willing, a well-liked District Attorney who went missing during the storm, though his French Quarter apartment escaped the flooding. Claire’s intuitive investigation, guided by dreams as much as her off-beat application of traditional methods, leads her to Andray Fairview, a young black criminal she dubs “Suicide Boy” for his bleak demeanor. The tattooed pot-smoking Claire has an uncanny ability to connect with other misfits, and she gradually teases out the truth while revealing glimpses of her own past as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn. Haunted by the disappearance of her best friend from a subway station during their rebellious teen years, Claire can’t let go of the mystery of the missing DA, which she calls The Case of the Green Parrot, even when her client fires her. Claire’s unique voice makes this series opener a standout.
Sara Gran page at SYKM

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Stven Hey, Lucinda, I'm so glad you liked this book! I finished it last night and I adored it. I hope you don't mind, but I just want to offer a sort of hairsplitting comment about your phrase "the self-declared world's foremost private investigator." Actually what Claire declares on page 10 is "I'm one of the most expensive detectives in the world." Leon replies, "Well, I asked around, and people said you were the best." Claire says, "That's true. I am." So I think to be excruciatingly accurate, what we can say is that Claire is "the self-acknowledged world's best detective." Not "foremost," because that means something like renowned and respected, and not "declared," because she only admits it after Leon says so. And maybe even "the world's" is stretching a point. But again, as I say, I'm merely hairsplitting, and I hope many within the sound of your voice will be encouraged to pick up this exceptional book and give it a spin. Cheers, Stven

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