Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant skills of deduction 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 great and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette before his death.
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 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.
©2011 Original material by Sara Gran. (P)2011 HighBridge Company
I really wanted to enjoy this book because it was recommended by others and I liked the title. I found myself yawning through most of it due to the redundancies of storyline and approach: I've read this character and her problems before and the ending was pretty formulaic.
The tale is simple enough. A well-known ADA goes missing in New Orleans after Katrina. What happened? Why? (The who is less important.) The answers are straight forward; the reader will pick up most of the solution about half way through the book. It's the character development that kept me listening. The characters, in this case, include the city, the victims, the detective, her mentor, and many others. I liked that the author followed through to some extent on what happened after the case was solved.
The narrator is excellent. She conveys the story (told in the first person) with conviction.
I thought that this was going to be a run of the mill supernatural detective meets supernatural mystery based on the original review. However, this novel plays around with the noir detective genre and sets it in post-Katrina New Orleans. Claire DeWitt is the hard-boiled detective who is savvy about race relations, class consciousness, post traumatic stress disorder, and the way that things really work. She does consult the I Ching and listens to her dreams, but these are almost secondary...she does a lot of old-fashioned detective work and instead of drinking a ton, she does drugs with her suspects.
The actual mystery becomes almost secondary to the narrative, the pacing, and the overall good writing.
The narrator is also very good with a suitably gravelly voice.
Really. A good listen takes you away from no-brainer yard work. Listening to this book, I found myself paying more attention to the weeds I was pulling. Most detective novels operate on two levels: the detection plot (find a missing person, solve a murder) and the personal plot (detective's personal conflict). Well into the book, I was still looking for a reason to care about or be interested in the detective. Nor did I care about the missing person. What was at stake? Why did it matter that he was missing? I'm still waiting....
The narrator's smoky, hard-boiled voice lends significance to every line; the problem is that the writer doesn't earn that significance. And there were some absurdities I couldn't tolerate, such as, "Three blocks away a dalmation-labrador mix barked." This is not a paranormal mystery; the detective can't see through walls and doesn't have psychic abilities. No one can identify the mix of breeds in a mutt by hearing its bark. In her attempt to create atmosphere and make New Orleans a character, the author throws in such useless details as to throw the listener right out of the book.
I loved this book. Sara Gran created such an interesting character in Claire DeWitt -- smart, flawed, blessed, and cursed. I think I would have enjoyed the book no matter who narrated it, but Carol Monda -- my gosh, she really brought Claire to life with her sultry, cynical, fluid reading.
* Hated it! **Endured it, hoping it would redeem itself; *** Okay; **** Great listen! ***** Outstanding! I'll be listening to it again!
I picked this book on a whim.
Like many people, I suspect, I’m post-Katrina book weary and wary of yet another book trying to understand the storm and its aftermath, but who can resist a title like “Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead”? Please!
The book did not disappoint. The underlying detective story is credible and kept me interested until the end, but not what I'd consider outstanding. What IS outstanding is the character that Sara Gran has created in the form of Claire DeWitt. I’m not sure she’s quite credible either, but you’ll certainly enjoy all her earthy little quirks. The back story involving Jaques Silette is masterful and adds an unforgettable dimension to an already colorful character.
But the narrator, Carol Monda, grabbed me from minute one; she IS Claire Dewitt and what makes this a five-star book. Her smoky, gravelly voice is wonderfully compelling, and I’ve since picked up to the recording a couple more times just for the sheer pleasure of hearing her talk. If you’re not wandering around the house saying “ze clues” at unexpected moments, you don’t have the volume turned up sufficiently!
I just added Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway to my wish list – with Carol Monda again the narrator, I don’t expect to be disappointed.
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Simply one of the best books I have listened to in a very long time. I've enjoyed other audible books but not anything like this one. Claire DeWhitt is not sugar coated. She's tough talking, insightful and intellegent. The New Orleans setting is spot on for after "the storm" as are the characters and story line.
It's rare when a book and a narrator are such a perfect match and this one is just that. Carol Monda is Claire DeWhitt in my mind. She was beyond perfect.
The first hour, I thought I was going to like it. The next few hours, not so much, but I endured and, overall, I'm glad that I finished it.
1. Gave me a good feel for post-Katrina New Orleans. I love books that really take you to another place. The characters felt real to me.
2. The story held my interest in spite of the cons below. The twists and turns made me want to follow it to the end.
1. While the narrator did very well with Claire DeWitt's voice and, I think, really captured her personality, I thought she did an awful job with every other character in the story. All other voices were too similar to each other and the narrator seemed to tighten up her throat and push out the dialogue in a slightly strained way.This detracted from the story for me as I found it very distracting. Also, I am by no means an expert on Southern accents but having watched the Spike Lee documentary,
very creative....not just another mystery...........clever and entertaining. Loved it!
the characters were fun...waiting for the next one.
It's an amazing book. I didn't want to like it on so many levels but, and it is a VERY big but, it is, and yes, I'm repeating myself, an amazing book. Well plotted, brilliantly narrated, real without being gruesome, and while the author through the main character is very clear that there are no happy endings, it isn't emotionally devastating either.
This is the book that you'll want to get all your friends to read so you can discuss it over several drinks some night, then hook up just to reacquaint yourself with your own reality.
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