Friday, September 6, 2013

The second book in the Claire DeWitt series

When we last left Claire DeWitt, at the end of Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, the private investigator had just solved a missing-persons case that turned out to be an ugly murder in post-Katrina New Orleans. The bitter ending to that mystery sets up an even darker and more painful case, as told in Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway.

Claire is back in San Francisco, where an ex-boyfriend, Paul Casablancas, has been murdered. Things didn’t work out between Clarie and Paul, and he ended up getting married to Claire’s friend Lydia. Now he’s dead, apparently the victim of a spooked burglar, and Claire is obsessed with finding the killer’s identity. Obsessed, because it’s the only way she knows to deny her powerful grief over Paul:

“The guitars. The lock. The keys. The gun. The musician in the drawing room with the gun. The duchess in the kitchen with the guitar. I let my mind fill with the case. It was only a case. Only another case.”
The Claire DeWitt mysteries are suspenseful, fast-paced, humorous but dark. Their heroine is an antihero at best, a seriously troubled woman whose ability to solve mysteries contrasts with her disastrous mess of a personal life.

They’re also genuinely weird riffs on the noir genre. In Claire’s world, detection is not a job but a painful, life-changing vocation, a vocation that finds people and demands a lifetime of service and sacrifice from them.

The first book was pretty good, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sold on Claire’s strange universe. The second is complete dynamite. Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway is simply a fantastic story with a great ending, covered with bloody handprints from Claire’s past and thick with shining clues to her future. I could not put it down, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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