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Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

3.7 11
by Sara Gran

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"A distinctive new American voice in mystery fiction." —NPR’s Fresh Air

When Claire DeWitt’s ex-boyfriend Paul Casablancas, a musician, is found dead in his Mission District house, Claire is on the case. Paul's wife and the police are sure Paul was killed for his valuable collection of vintage guitars. But Claire, the


"A distinctive new American voice in mystery fiction." —NPR’s Fresh Air

When Claire DeWitt’s ex-boyfriend Paul Casablancas, a musician, is found dead in his Mission District house, Claire is on the case. Paul's wife and the police are sure Paul was killed for his valuable collection of vintage guitars. But Claire, the best detective in the world, has other ideas. Even as her other cases offer hints to Paul’s fate—a missing girl in the grim East Village of the 1980s and an epidemic of missing miniature horses in Marin County-–Claire knows: the truth is never where you expect it, and love is the greatest mystery of all.


Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Claire's old love, Paul Casablancas, is murdered in an apparent robbery gone bad, opening a floodgate of emotions for her. She finds a clue ("trust only the clues," says her detective mentor, Jacques Silette) that helps her trace Paul's final steps that ultimately led to his death. Two cases separated by 25 years—the old one in Claire's native Brooklyn and the current in San Francisco—define Gran's second series entry. Through Claire's flashbacks and dreams, readers are transported into her intuitive detecting methods—an exhausting process unique to this fine detective. Claire's increasing reliance on cocaine as the case escalates worries both her friends and the readers, but she never loses track of her cases, leading to a stunning conclusion. VERDICT Gran's (Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead) detective searches for truth, not necessarily justice, and philosophical tidbits scattered throughout give the storyline an otherworldly tone. Remarkably, Gran keeps her tortured detective focused throughout, ensuring a satisfying read. Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly
Gran succumbs to sophomore slump in her second Claire DeWitt mystery (after 2011’s Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead). An atypical PI who would be at home in a Hunter Thompson story, the sarcastic Claire relies on her dreams, mind-enhancing drugs, a computer-hacker assistant, and her professional bible, Détection by French detective Jacques Silette, to solve crimes. Claire has moved to San Francisco, where she’s caught up in the murder of her old boyfriend, Paul Casablancas, in what appears to be a botched robbery. She follows clues about Paul’s murder and comforts his rock-musician widow, Lydia Nunez, while investigating miniature horse thefts and while looking into the disappearance of an old friend who vanished during the 1980s in Manhattan’s East Village. Rehashed plot points, wearisome characters (Claire’s manic personality can grate), and a rushed denouement make this a lesser effort from a talented author. Agent: Barney Karpfinger, the Karpfinger Agency. (June)
From the Publisher
Praise for Sara Gran and Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

"The most interesting private eye I’ve encountered since Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander…A fascinating read." —Washington Post

"A fresh, fully realized noir world…The world-weary hipster voice and the absurdist perspective of Claire DeWitt and The Bohemian Highway are what really hold a susceptible reader spellbound. Think of the noir-inflected novels of Paul Auster or even the labyrinthine stories of Jorge Luis Borges. Gran's narrative is an intricate one…[An] introspective and, yes, poetic mystery adventure." —NPR’s Fresh Air

"Claire's quest to avenge Paul is compelling, but her insistence on uncovering the mystery of her own self-destruction is what makes this book not just a compelling mystery, but a novel." —O, the Oprah Magazine

"There's absolutely nothing predictable about either the multilayered investigation—cloaked in references to Indian scriptures, Thomas Merton, and cheesy 1980s TV mysteries—or DeWitt herself, who charms despite her fraying life. A "Entertainment Weekly

"There's a long and distinguished line of famous women in mystery fiction. I have a new favorite female sleuth to add to the list, Claire DeWitt." —CNN.com

"Claire, though withdrawn and difficult, is deeply empathetic…Gran’s building something here, something bigger and better than a mere series. She’s building a labyrinthine world and filling it out completely, and I’m just happy to be along for the ride." —Los Angeles Review of Books

"The [Claire DeWitt] stories are wise, chilling, insightful and reeking with despair—and yet so beautifully written in an original, quirky style that it is difficult to resist them." —Bruce DeSilva, Associated Press

"The first fresh literary voice I’ve heard in years. Sara Gran has pulled the traditional female sleuth into the twenty-first century." —Sue Grafton

"Reminds me why I fell in love with the genre." —Laura Lippman

"Claire, or another PI much like her, might have been inevitable—or maybe it just takes a writer as good as Sara Gran to make her seem that way…It’s well worth following Claire wherever she decides to look." —Salon.com

"Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway, with its snappy prose and San Francisco setting, is both an homage to hard-boiled detective novels in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and at the same time a brash reboot of the genre for the 21st century…Sara Gran has given the hard-boiled detective a good, hard hipster twist, creating a character with a savagely vigilant mind and a black heart always on the verge of breaking." —The Millions

"Gran writes in that hard-boiled staccato style of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler…It works brilliantly and often to comic effect…If I were to follow my gut instinct I'd say that Gran has a best-seller on her hands." —The Independent

"One of the freshest voices in modern crime fiction… Gran has created a female sleuth to cherish." —Daily Mail

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Claire DeWitt Novels , #2
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Sara Gran is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, including Come Closer, Dope, and the Claire DeWitt series. She also writes for film and TV and has published in the New York Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and USA Today.

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Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
DSHoffman More than 1 year ago
There's so much goodness in this novel, it's hard to know where to begin. First, as in Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, this is a novel of obsession. In high school, Claire Dewitt and her friends Kelly and Tracy are transformed by a book on detection by (fictional author) Jacques Silette. Silette's book is far more a metaphysical treatise than a how-to manual; Silette's is a philosophy that forever marks its believers. Silette's students are like shepherding bodhisattvas whose role is to bring not enlightenment but truth to their clients. Claire is monomaniacal in pursuit of the truth, and in the world of this novel (as, I suspect, in the real world), this is a torturous monomania that's at least as savage to the detective as it is to the client. Second, this is a hellish love story -- not a "Silly Love Songs" kind of love story, but a "Love Will Tear Us Apart" love story. Claire has long since broken up with musician Paul Casablancas when she finds out from the police that he has been shot to death in his home. The police want Claire involved not for her badass detection skills, but to handle the distraught wife, Lydia, also a musician, also a friend/acquaintance of Claire's. The story of Paul's relationships with these women is heartbreaking. Third, this is a novel of subculture: not just the musicians' subculture, but also the drug subculture. Some readers might find Claire's drug use a turnoff, but this is only a modern-day riff on a very old genre trope (think of Philip Marlowe and his bottle of rye). Anyone who thinks Gran is glamorizing drug use must have read this novel half asleep. In any case, Claire's drug use is absolutely true to character. I found it an extremely effective means for showing Claire's internal pain. A big part of Bohemian Highway is a flashback to Claire and Tracy's investigation of the missing teenager, Chloe. Gran has a blast turning the YA girl detective genre on its head: young Claire as Nancy Drew, if Nancy were a borderline alcoholic truant. Its connection to the main plot-line? Both relate strongly to the novel's core conflict, which is Claire's destruction or redemption. This novel brought me to tears a few times, and choked me up more times than I could count. Maybe that doesn't sound like much fun to some readers, and if you're more into the bonhomie of an Agatha Christie protagonist, Claire may not be your thing. But it's very cool when an author can make me feel that deeply about a character. It really doesn't happen that often, and I think it has some kinship with real magic. Just technique, but awesome technique. So few authors pull it off. I've been reading Sara Gran ever since her 2003 novel Come Closer. Dope (2006) was better, and Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (2012) better still. Clearly, this is an author who is as dedicated to her craft as her newest protagonist is to detection -- each novel has been better than the last. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that Ms. Gran's second Claire Dewitt novel affected me so deeply. Gran is an author who understands the tropes of the hard-boiled genre well enough to play with and milk those tropes for all they're worth. "Hard-boiled" doesn't begin to describe Claire, by the way. She's more like an egg fried on a hot sidewalk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very different type of detective novel. Interesting, but rather twisted since the detective is constantly overdosing on drugs and strung out as she solves her cases. If you want a new slant on detective novels this is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great series. Not crazy about all the drug use but otherwise good story.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is the Barnes & Noble (Nook) version of this book $11.20 and the Kindle version $9.99 on Amazon??????????? That's a big difference if you buy a lot of books.