Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Book - 2011
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Houghton
In the first of a new mystery series featuring quirky private investigator Claire DeWitt, Claire investigates the disappearance of a top prosecutor in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant deductive skills 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 late, great, and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette. 

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 a 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. 

Littered with memories of Claire’s years as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is a knockout start to a bracingly original new series.


Baker & Taylor
Augmenting her brilliant deductive skills with dream analysis, marijuana, and the written work of a mysterious French detective, private investigator Claire DeWitt reluctantly returns to post-Katrina New Orleans to solve the disappearance of an unpopular prosecutor.

Baker
& Taylor

Augmenting her brilliant deductive skills with dream analysis, marijuana, and the written work of a mysterious French detective, private investigator Claire DeWitt reluctantly returns to post-Katrina New Orleans to solve the disappearance of an unpopularprosecutor.
Augmenting her brilliant deductive skills with dream analysis, marijuana and the written work of a mysterious French detective, private investigator Claire DeWitt reluctantly returns to post-Katrina New Orleans to solve the disappearance of an unpopular prosecutor whose fate may be known by a young gang member. By the author of Dope. 25,000 first printing.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 9780547428499
Branch Call Number: Fiction Gran
Characteristics: 273 p. ; 24 cm

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w
wyenotgo
May 19, 2018

This book purports to be a mystery, or a hard-boiled detective yarn. It's not. A meandering story about a search for a guy who may or may not be dead, a man known only by reputation, is unlikely to get anyone's pulse racing. Along the way, there are many who will be killed and no one really cares very much about figuring out why or by whom. This the city of the dead. People from here move to Detroit, in search of a lower crime rate.
What this really amounts to is a lament for a city, a society, a nation whose promise of hope has been long forgotten in a spiral of urban decay, civic apathy and social disintegration. Like many cities, New Orleans was already in decline before the storm arrived. The neglect that left it especially vulnerable, the class disparity, the racial divide, all of that had already begun to eat away at it. The hurricane just made its condition a lot more visible: homes simply abandoned, municipal services and infrastructure left in a third-world state. Drug dealers and their customers often the only people to be found on some streets.
"Rumors of bribes and corruption hounded the DA's office. ..... A lot of departments had their bad apples. But in New Orleans most of the apples were bad and most of the accusations were true. Bribery and corruption were everyday business here."
"Two boys came in with AK-47s and killed everyone in the place. Eight patrons, three staff members and one off-duty cop who was supposed to be guarding the place. He did his best. His gun was in his hand when they found him -- a .22 caliber revolver. It was a toy compared to what the two boys had. ..... She would have given those boys anything they'd asked for, even without a gun. But they didn't ask. They just shot her."
People need to care about their city and the way of life that surrounds it. If they don't, it soon will die and no one will mourn its passing -- least of all the politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen who abandoned it.

s
smichal
Nov 05, 2015

kind of a negative main character, some woman who thinks she's a tough guy with all the macho drugs, drinking, shooting, bragging. New Orleans sounds like a scary place. I don't think I'll be reading more of her books.

u
uncommonreader
Jul 23, 2015

Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, this mystery features a New Age type detective. It was not difficult to guess where the story was going. It is not very well-written. No more for me by this author.

tailwagger Apr 24, 2014

Very unusual, but in a good way. A challenging read that will probably piss off many mystery traditionalists. Claire DeWitt sure ain't Jack Reacher or Rebus.

l
LT
Nov 18, 2013

Almost no one likes Claire DeWitt, the antiheroine of Sara Gran's mystery series. That included me, when I first started reading the book. Gran's sharp-edged, fast-cut descriptions of tragic, drowned New Orleans are hard to bear. But I persevered because Claire's drug-addled insights, the "Silettian" philosophy espoused in the text, and Gran's mischievous and disturbing magic realism became increasingly compelling. I'm glad I finished the book. It was sad, beautiful and harsh, and it was also well worth reading.

t
tocch101
Nov 04, 2013

An interesting read with a PI that I don't know if I could stand, but that might be the point. Interested in seeing where this goes, but not in my top three for mystery writers.

a
amnl
Aug 11, 2013

Don't bother.

JeremiahSutherland Feb 22, 2013

Interesting take on detection. Instead of rational thought, go with omens, dreams and drug-fueled visions.

r
Rubicat
Dec 27, 2012

Ms DeWitt is very odd. I can't quite decide if I liked this book or not. I found myself frustrated in many places by the esoteric nature of her musings; I was sometimes baffled by her reasoning; I was gratified to learn new lore about psychic investigation but I doubt if I will search for more about Ms. DeWitt. Maybe I should consider a re-read in a year or so to see if I can get more out of this one. It will challenge your idea of what a detective novel is.

d
DeltaQueen50
Feb 11, 2012

Refreshingly different, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran introduces a new type of female P.I., as she says herself less a detective by choice than by calling. Following in the footsteps of her mentor, P.I. Constance Darling, and guided by the writings of renown French detective Jacques Silette, Claire follows clues by own instinct, be it by discerning the I Ching, her dreams or mind-expanding drugs. I loved the blurb on the back of the book that describes her as, “a cool blend of Nancy Drew and Sid Vicious”.

A fearless author who seems quite willing to go anywhere her mind takes her, this is far from a linear read. Jumping around, to the past, back to the present, and into dreams, Claire slowly puts the pieces together, and we are treated to a innovative, intelligent story that hopefully is the introduction to a new series.

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