So I have to admit I don’t know that this book (series) is for everyone.
There’s a conversation I had or something I read or heard about the difference between a puzzle and a mystery. A puzzle is designed to be solved and the pieces and clues necessary to do so are all available. And so whether you’re going to an Escape the Room or playing a Resident Evil game or reading an Agatha Christie novel, you’re enmeshed in an a puzzle or series of puzzles.
A mystery is more of a vague thing. It’s mysterious because it doesn’t have all the pieces. It leads to questions and not answers. This is where paradox, ambiguity, and other potential unsatisfying feelings come into play. A mystery may or may not ever be solved, and worse, a mystery may only have a shape around it and not all the total truth of something where “solving” can even enter into it.
So this book is labeled as “A Mystery” and you should take it into heart if you’re going to read it.
But I love this book. It’s not (all that) pretentious, even though it’s about a Private Investigator who adores a French detective theorist (big clue) and considers herself the world’s greatest private investigator. But she works on relatively small cases (not unlike Kinsey Milhone or so), but where the world doesn’t supply actual answers or puzzles, the cases are about self-discovery and exploration of ideas. And of course she works through them using drugs, astral projection, Hoodoo, and other occultist stuff.
It’s a trip. The writing is sharp, the characterization is really infectious, and failing as a puzzle, it’s really a great mystery. Sara Gran is a tv writer, so hopefully this gets the gritty-ass work up it deserves.
The French theorist Francois Lyotard said: “Under the general demand for slackening and for appeasement, we can hear the mutterings of the desire for a return of terror, for the realization of the fantasy to seize reality. The answer is: Let us wage a war on totality; let us be witnesses to the unpresentable;
let us activate the differences and save the honor of the name.”
This book definitely wages a war on totality.