Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Book - 2011
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When a respected New Orleans DA goes missing, Claire DeWitt, one-time teen detective and self-proclaimed world's greatest PI, returns to the hurricane-ravaged city to find out why.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2011.
ISBN: 9780547428499
Characteristics: 273 p. ; 24 cm.


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Review of Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead in Cascadia Weekly (Monday, April 15, 2019) by WCLS Executive Director, Christine Perkins. (more)

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Jul 14, 2020

This is the most annoying read of the year, so far. A detective who operates by guesswork, dreams and drugs manages to deliver trite life lessons and flirts with homophobia.

Dec 09, 2019

Claire takes a case in New Orleans where she originally learned the craft of detective work. I read the second book in the series before reading this one. I was so intrigued by Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway, that I wanted to learn more about Claire and her off-beat way of solving mysteries. Claire is no Nancy Drew. She fits quite well into the gritty world of New Orleans. Not only is the mystery interesting, that of solving the murder of a well-liked Public Defender, but she takes us to the crime-ridden world of the poor and mainly black in New Orleans. Claire has a way of seeing how the poverty and lack of opportunities lead to the life of the men and boys she meets. She can see the good in them, and in solving the mystery she offers help to several boys she finds caught in the cycle of poverty.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Sep 30, 2019

Super quirky mystery set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I’ll definitely be reading more!

Feb 19, 2019

City of the Dead is in the Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett noir tradition. An urban setting, an imperfect hero battling a corrupt environment. Packed with hard language, harsh scenes, and a vague plot that is driven more by character and setting than whodunit puzzles or the chase. This is all to the good. The language does not reach Chandler's lyricism, but comes close and that is a long way. The mysterious Jacques Silette handbook of detection adds a twist, but the twist turned tight as the dictums piled up toward the end. I will read more Sara Gran, but I fear Claire DeWitt and Silette have played their best hand for me.

Jan 25, 2019

Guided by a mysterious book written by Silette that purports to be answer to how to be a detective, the protagonist wanders around Post Katrina New Orleans looking for clues to a disappearance. The book, "Detection" is enigmatic, filled with portentous declarations that are so obscure in real life. The protagonist in the novel is a hard boiled jaded PI that adds whatever drug is handy to her alcohol and drug induced life. She solves cases, not by direct point to point, but by meandering and observing.

I find the protagonist as obscure as a Silette book, with a decided anti hero bent. While the plot is not direct, it does get to the mystery, and the style, while disconcerting at first, grew on me. As for Claire DeWitt, i like her, and am looking forward to the next installment.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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