Unlike Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, I wasn’t able to down this one quickly like I thought I would. I had to sit with certain parts of it. It’s more personal and raw than the first one…and just as good, if not better.
It’s tough to describe Gran’s writing style. It’s this mix of absurdism, postmodernism and hardboiled. Usually, people who write that way are trying way too hard. For Gran, it’s effortless. And it makes every dialogue exchange an adventure. Sometimes, I need to pause to make sure I’m taking in all the dynamics because she’s sparse. But it works.
The effect of reading this is not disorienting, per se, but it requires more patience than the typical hardboiled novel. It rewards it. Reading her is almost looking like a Jackson Pollack: there’s a method to everything but she’s gonna take you through the chaos of the story to get there.
Also, in delving more into Claire’s back story, including one of her early “cases” in Brooklyn, the reader is forced to Claire’s character in all her messy imperfection. This case is deeply personal to her and she goes on a self destructive bender to solve it. She’s messed up and she knows it. I’ve long talked about the facile nature of the “likability of characters.” I don’t need a character to be likable; I need a reason to be invested in their story. Gran gives plenty. She’s just that talented of a writer. I probably wouldn’t like Claire and I doubt she’d like me but I’d definitely want her solving my case.
This series is about mysteries: how they’re only solved when we conclude they are. But the truth goes beyond them. That’s certainly the case in this one.