Claire Dewitt

Created by Sara Gran

Uh-oh. We're not in Chandlertown anymore.

But we certainly passed through there on our way here. Anyone expecting author Sara Gunn to simply milk the noir vein she tapped so well in her classic Dope has another think coming.

Twentyish private eye CLAIRE DeWITT is, well, different.

Imagine the squeaky clean Nancy Drew all grown up and adult and totally alive, complete with raging hormones and all sorts of nasty habits, turned professional investigator -- and relying on a lot more than good girl pluck, kiddie pulp coincidence, a wealthy daddy and her Wonder Bread chums to crack a case.

Besides her own natural instincts, Claire relies on dreams, omens, her troubled past, I-Ching readings, assorted substances (controlled and otherwise) and the teaching of a legendary book, Detecion, written by an enigmatic French detective/philosopher, Jacques Silete -- anything and everything to get the job done.

And it's that anything-and-everything approach, the woozy literary equivalent of a mid-sixties-era Bob Dylan song, that makes this book such a hoot. Something may be happening here, but you won't know what it is...

... and those handle-stealing vandals just aren't any help.

You want another pop/rock reference? Claire displays a "What is it? I'll take it" view of drugs similar to Dr. Jimmy in The Who's Quadrophenia.

Dogged and determined (and frequently stoned), Claire will use whatever it takes when she's hired by his nephew to locate straight arrow New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Vic Willing, who hasn't been seen since Katrina, in Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (2011). It's a metaphysical, philosophical headspinner of a detective novel that had no damn business being so much fun.

Or being spun into an apparent series, given the appearance in 2013 of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway, and The Infinite Blacktop in 2018.

Now put that in your pipe and smoke it...


  • "Just when I begin to despair that the PI novel has worn out its welcome, a writer with a fresh take reminds me why I fell in love with the genre. Sara Gran has long specialized in shaking up and revitalizing other corners of the genre world, so it's no surprise that she performs this same magic in Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead. And while I confess to having very little objectivity about New Orleans and no credentials to judge its literary portrayal, this is a valuable addition to the (way too small) body of post-storm novels."

-- Laura Lippman

  • "Terrific. I love this book! Absolutely love it. This is the first fresh literary voice I've heard in years. Sara Gran recombines all the elements of good, solid story-telling and lifts something original from a well-loved form."

-- Sue Grafton

  • "I’m trying to think when I’ve liked a book so well and found myself at such a loss to explain what it was I liked about it. In fact, it wasn’t until after several nights of desultory reading that I turned to page 24 of Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead and something clicked inside my brain. I found myself unable to put the novel down. I tore through the rest of the book in one day and have been thinking about it ever since."

-- D.L. Browne, from the I Love a Mystery/Thrilling Detective review



Cases mentioned in the novels, but so far unrecorded...

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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