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When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt’s musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it’s a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple. With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul’s fate in her other cases—especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Vil When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt’s musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it’s a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple. With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul’s fate in her other cases—especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Village and a modern-day miniature horse theft in Marin. As visions of the past reveal the secrets of the present, Claire begins to understand the words of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette: “The detective won’t know what he is capable of until he encounters a mystery that pierces his own heart.” And love, in all its forms, is the greatest mystery of all—at least to the world’s greatest PI.


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When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt’s musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it’s a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple. With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul’s fate in her other cases—especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Vil When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt’s musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it’s a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple. With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul’s fate in her other cases—especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Village and a modern-day miniature horse theft in Marin. As visions of the past reveal the secrets of the present, Claire begins to understand the words of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette: “The detective won’t know what he is capable of until he encounters a mystery that pierces his own heart.” And love, in all its forms, is the greatest mystery of all—at least to the world’s greatest PI.

30 review for Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    When her ex-boyfriend is murdered, Claire DeWitt goes on the case. But what does it have to do with the other case she's working on, The Case of the Missing Horses, or one from her past, The Case of the End of the World? And is there enough cocaine in the San Francisco area for Claire to find her ex-boyfriend's murderer? This is the eighth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the When her ex-boyfriend is murdered, Claire DeWitt goes on the case. But what does it have to do with the other case she's working on, The Case of the Missing Horses, or one from her past, The Case of the End of the World? And is there enough cocaine in the San Francisco area for Claire to find her ex-boyfriend's murderer? This is the eighth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been. In the second book in the series, Claire DeWitt continues being the world's greatest detective. This time, Claire's mission is a much more personal one. As she digs through Paul Casablancas' past, she also confronts her own, when she and Tracy were looking for a missing girl in Brooklyn when they were teenagers. As with the previous book, Claire uses unconventional methods like dreams, tarot cards, and copious amounts of cocaine to keep things going after she exhaust conventional methods. Who knew clues like a missing guitar and poker chips could snowball like they did. Once again, Claire proves she's the World's Greatest Detective. She also proves she's just barely skating along the border of genius and insanity, getting more self-destructive as the case progresses with her cocaine and pain pills. The case from the past in Brooklyn gives us a glimpse of how Claire got to where she is today. The second book leaves a lot of questions unanswered, paving the way for the third and final book. Who is the one leaving copies of Detection for people to find? How was it Claire and her friends were the only people to read the Cynthia Silverton books when they were kids? And who was it that cliffhangered Claire's ass at the end of this book? The writing, as with the previous book, is superb. It reminds me of Megan Abbott and George Pelecanos writing a Nancy Drew mystery. I enjoyed this one slightly less than the first Claire DeWitt book but it was still a great read. 4.5 out of 5 stars. Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $48.10.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Thane

    I was a big fan of Sara Gran's first novel featuring Claire DeWitt, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, which was set in post-Katrina New Orleans. To say that Claire is an unconventional detective would be the height of understatement, and the character was fresh, quirky and very intriguing. Additionally, Gran did an excellent job of portraying the city in the wake of the disaster, and she was particularly good at capturing the lives of the city's young, poverty-stricken African-American mal I was a big fan of Sara Gran's first novel featuring Claire DeWitt, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, which was set in post-Katrina New Orleans. To say that Claire is an unconventional detective would be the height of understatement, and the character was fresh, quirky and very intriguing. Additionally, Gran did an excellent job of portraying the city in the wake of the disaster, and she was particularly good at capturing the lives of the city's young, poverty-stricken African-American males, many of whom have no real prospects and very little hope. For those who haven't yet encountered Claire, she's a disciple of the French detective, Jacques Silette, author of the book Detection, which changed Claire's life when she discovered the book as a young teenager. Claire later did her apprenticeship in New Orleans under the tutelage of Silette's most outstanding protégé, Constance Darling, and when Constance died, Claire advanced to the position of World's Greatest Detective. Claire is heavily tattooed; she drinks and takes drugs to excess, as often as not stealing the drugs from the medicine cabinets of unsuspecting friends. To solve her mysteries, she relies on mysticism and dreams as much as on more traditional methods of investigation. This case begins when a musician named Paul Casablancas is murdered in what appears to be a burglary gone wrong. His home has been invaded; several guitars are missing, and the police are ready to write off the murder as incidental to the burglary that Casablancas apparently interrupted. But Claire has a personal tie to the case; she and Paul were once lovers, and when Paul's widow asks Claire for help, Claire assumes the responsibility of attempting to determine what really happened. Claire investigates for the next several months with the aid of her new assistant, Claude, a graduate school dropout. In and around the investigation, Claire ruminates on the disappearance years earlier of one of her best friends, a girl named Tracy. As teenagers, Claire, Tracy and a girl named Kelly were inseparable. They discovered Silette's book, Detection together and began investigating mysteries of their own. Then, shortly after they solved a particularly difficult case, Tracy simply disappeared and neither Claire nor Kelly ever heard from her again. Tracy's disappearance was a critical element in the first Claire DeWitt novel and we now get the backstory that fills in many of the blanks. As the above will doubtless suggest, we're not in Cabot Cove anymore, Toto, and this is not your grandmother's traditional mystery novel. It may not appeal to every fan of crime fiction, but it will certainly intrigue those who are willing to take a chance on a story and a character who are more than a little bit out of the mainstream. If I have a concern about this book, it would be simply that it suffers a bit by comparison to the first in the series. Claire no longer seems quite as fresh as she did in her first adventure, although this is probably to be expected. More than that, Gran did such a magnificent job with the setting of the first book, that this one inevitably suffers a bit by comparison. The disaster suffered by New Orleans allowed Gran a canvas to work with that simply doesn't exist in San Francisco, although it's a great city in its own right. It also struck me that the supporting cast here is not as interesting and well-drawn as the one in City of the Dead, but these are relatively minor complaints, and I'm looking forward to the third and apparently final installment of the Claire DeWitt trilogy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    “‘That’s wonderful,’ I said. ‘Do you really think so?’ Lydia said. ‘Do you really think it’s wonderful?’ Did I really think it was wonderful? Wonderful was probably an exaggeration. I thought it was fine. Maybe even good. I couldn’t say the last time I thought anything was exactly wonderful. This implied more joy than I may ever have felt. But that was what she wanted to hear.’” *********************** Claire is a mess. A word of advice to those that allow her in their homes–keep your drugs locked u “‘That’s wonderful,’ I said. ‘Do you really think so?’ Lydia said. ‘Do you really think it’s wonderful?’ Did I really think it was wonderful? Wonderful was probably an exaggeration. I thought it was fine. Maybe even good. I couldn’t say the last time I thought anything was exactly wonderful. This implied more joy than I may ever have felt. But that was what she wanted to hear.’” *********************** Claire is a mess. A word of advice to those that allow her in their homes–keep your drugs locked up, as she’ll be in the medicine cabinet hunting for Valium and oxycodone as soon as your back is turned. You know Claire. I was friends with her in college. I’m not precisely sure if I love the character, or my memory of the Claire-like friend. Beautiful. Burning with intelligence. Supremely dysfunctional in an utterly honest way. Prone to exploiting and helping those around her in equal amounts. Not with maliciousness, mind you; more an instinctual focus on meeting her own needs, her desperate attempt to fill the holes in her psyche. And yet, despite all those dysfunctional behaviors, it’s heartache for friends to walk away. (Come to think of it, I’m in a Claire-like relationship with a certain book site right now). Because I'm doing my best to limit dysfunctionality, I'll continue my review--as well as speculation about the author--at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0... or http://carols.booklikes.com/post/6797...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jamila

    Claire DeWitt is one of the most exciting, crazily-flawed, kick-ass women characters. She is a brilliant and fearless detective. Yet, an emotionally, injured addict. Though the answer to the novel's main mystery was not a surprise, Sara Gran expertly weaves in other intriguing mysteries from Claire's past and present. This novel is dark and raw and highlights cool things about the Bay (SF/Oakland/Berkeley/Pt.Reyes. Further, there are awesome NYC scenes as well! It's not as good as the first nove Claire DeWitt is one of the most exciting, crazily-flawed, kick-ass women characters. She is a brilliant and fearless detective. Yet, an emotionally, injured addict. Though the answer to the novel's main mystery was not a surprise, Sara Gran expertly weaves in other intriguing mysteries from Claire's past and present. This novel is dark and raw and highlights cool things about the Bay (SF/Oakland/Berkeley/Pt.Reyes. Further, there are awesome NYC scenes as well! It's not as good as the first novel set in New Orleans; but, it's a great read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    4.5 stars "Maybe that was all there was to life. One long case, only you kept switching roles. Detective, witness, client, suspect. Then one day I'd be the victim instead of the detective or the client and it would all be over. Then I'd finally have a f***ing day off." -- Claire DeWitt, P.I. on the 'joys' of her profession No 'sophomore slump' here, Sara Gran churns out a nearly-as-good follow-up to her anti-heroine character's debut Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead with the sort-of sequel B 4.5 stars "Maybe that was all there was to life. One long case, only you kept switching roles. Detective, witness, client, suspect. Then one day I'd be the victim instead of the detective or the client and it would all be over. Then I'd finally have a f***ing day off." -- Claire DeWitt, P.I. on the 'joys' of her profession No 'sophomore slump' here, Sara Gran churns out a nearly-as-good follow-up to her anti-heroine character's debut Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead with the sort-of sequel Bohemian Highway. This time around DeWitt is back on the streets of San Francisco (her usual base of operations) to take on a case that appears to be a residential burglary-turned-homicide. This one's really personal -- the victim was ex-boyfriend Paul, a good man she let drift away years ago because of her fears and immaturity. It also involves friends, friends of friends, and acquaintances as DeWitt does the usual P.I. legwork all over the storied Bay Area to solve the mystery she dubs 'The Case of Kali Yuga.' Like in the debut the first-person narration (so prevalent in private eye novels) is again used very well. There is some odd, dark humor. A reader could make a fatal drinking game out of how many times DeWitt notes she stops to take "a bump" of cocaine throughout the investigation. Her prescription pill abuse, obvious in the first book, is now - or more recognizable as - a full-blown drug addiction. Then there are the flashbacks to her unusual teenage years in Brooklyn, highlighting her early work on a missing person incident involving a classmate. It is fairly depressing and disgusting, but it also helpfully colors in DeWitt's backstory, providing some explanation of her screwed-up adulthood. However, just when appears DeWitt may be turning into a joke or pushover (or, in this story, a hopeless lost cause) her innate resourcefulness and gumption keep her on top and trucking along. Lastly, I realize when I picture DeWitt in my mind that she resembles author/creator Sara Gran (her photograph graces the dust jacket of both books) - I'm not sure whether Ms. Gran would think that's a compliment or not. However, it's fun thinking of what the fictional DeWitt would say about it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

    Vintage, vintage, vintage. On every page. Sometimes, seemingly, in every paragraph. For about two-thirds of this book, vintage was Sara Gran's favorite adjective. All of her characters wear vintage clothing. They all shop in vintage record shops or book stores or clothing and accessory stores. Often, they even drive vintage cars. Okay, we get the idea. It's cool to love vintage things. This is the kind of quirk that can irritate me almost beyond endurance when reading a book - the repetitive use Vintage, vintage, vintage. On every page. Sometimes, seemingly, in every paragraph. For about two-thirds of this book, vintage was Sara Gran's favorite adjective. All of her characters wear vintage clothing. They all shop in vintage record shops or book stores or clothing and accessory stores. Often, they even drive vintage cars. Okay, we get the idea. It's cool to love vintage things. This is the kind of quirk that can irritate me almost beyond endurance when reading a book - the repetitive use of a word. Yes, I realize that might be perceived as petty. So sue me! It's my pet peeve and I'm sticking with it. At a certain point in the book, Gran seemed to realize what she was doing and she stopped using the word, cold turkey. Never used it again. But she found synonyms or other ways of conveying the same idea. I really liked Gran's first Claire DeWitt book which was set in New Orleans, and I had looked forward to reading this one. It started off very well. I was happy to make Claire's acquaintance again and to see her in her home city of San Francisco. The mystery that she was engaged in solving - who murdered an old lover of hers - was one that intrigued me. Then I got hung up on the repetition of "vintage" and Claire's downward spiral into drug addiction and the whole thing just kind of fell apart for me. In Bohemian Highway, we meet a Claire who is clearly out of control and not functioning well in her life's destiny as a detective. She spends much of her time searching out sources for purchasing cocaine and whenever she visits anyone's house or apartment, either as part of the investigation or just because, she seeks the bathroom and checks the bathroom cabinet for drugs. If she finds Percocet or Vicodin or Valium or anything else that will help her get high, she takes one or two of the pills and puts the rest in her purse. If she finds cocaine in the house, she steals it. She is, in short, a mess. Her nose is constantly bleeding. Half the time it's not clear whether she's experiencing reality or some drug-induced dream. It is thoroughly depressing. And yet, we are led to believe that her finely honed instinct for detection is totally intact and that she is able to intuit the clues that she needs to eventually solve this case. I have no experience with cocaine, but somehow, I just don't think that's the way it works, especially when you are mixing cocaine with Vicodin, Percocet, Valium, Adderall or whatever else the next medicine cabinet holds. Yes, one has to suspend disbelief when reading fiction and allow the author his/her artistic license, but this was too much for me. Sara Gran is a talented writer and there were parts of the book that I really, really liked. They mostly occurred in the first third of so of the novel. In the end, I gave the book three stars, but if I could have given two-and-a-half, that would have been a truer reflection of my reaction. I'm sure that Gran had a method in mind and that she was working from a plan in presenting her main character in the way she did, but I can't really discern what the purpose was. The book ended on a cliffhanger, so I am sure that another entry in the Claire DeWitt story is forthcoming. I hope that her creator will see fit to put Claire back in control of her addiction and allow her to become a more likable human being. I'll be less eager to read the next book unless I have an inkling that something like that has happened.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I really love these books. I can't help it. Why isn't everyone talking about Clair all the time?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Claire DeWitt, the world's greatest detective, returns to California after solving a case in New Orleans (book 1, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead).  Her ex-boyfriend Paul Casablancas, a well known local musician, is found dead in his home and police believe he was shot after surprising an intruder during a robbery in progress.  The killer took several guitars and locked the door from the inside when leaving the home. After learning the door was locked from the inside, Claire believes the m Claire DeWitt, the world's greatest detective, returns to California after solving a case in New Orleans (book 1, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead).  Her ex-boyfriend Paul Casablancas, a well known local musician, is found dead in his home and police believe he was shot after surprising an intruder during a robbery in progress.  The killer took several guitars and locked the door from the inside when leaving the home. After learning the door was locked from the inside, Claire believes the murder was much more personal than a robbery.  She looks back on her relationship with Paul and takes a closer look at his marriage and his music with help from old friends and her new assistant Claude. Claire has a habit of reminiscing on old cases that lead her to clues in present cases.  As a follower of master PI Jacques Silette and his book Detection, she knows that nothing is ever as simple as it seems and there are no coincidences, only fate. Working this personal case has Claire relying heavily on drugs (again) and more haunted than ever by another unsolved personal case:  the disappearance of her best friend Tracy when they were teenagers.  Tracy's disappearance was discussed at length in the first novel and we get quite a bit of new information through flashbacks in this book. Once again Claire uses copious amounts of drugs, mystical dreams (hallucinations perhaps?), and information from some strange characters to lead her to the truth. On a self destructive path to destiny, Claire manages to solve the case of Paul's murder while leaving many unanswered questions:  how is such a small amount of people finding the Silette novel Detection and then finding each other?  How did Claire and her friends Kelly and Tracy have copies of the Cynthia Silverton mysteries in their childhood after we find out how extremely limited the copies were?  What happened to Tracy? So basically this book was a mystery within several other mysteries where we're building a case for all but solving a few at a time. Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway ends with a frustrating cliffhanger.  The PI has located the only known remaining copies of the Cynthia Silverton books from her childhood and mails a letter to the address in an ad for a detective home study course. She then heads out of town in search of Andray (a character from the first novel) who she believes is destined to become another Silette detective, after he fails to show up in Las Vegas to meet a friend.  She lets her assistant Claude know finding Andray is her next case -- and then she realizes it's not her paranoia:  a Lincoln is following her through Oakland... You won't get any spoilers from me!  I'll just end with this quote from Silette: "Mysteries never end.  And we solve them anyway, knowing we are solving both everything and nothing.  We solve them knowing the world will surely be as poorly or even worse off than before.  But this is the piece of life we have been given authority over, nothing else; and while we may ask why over and over, no one yet has been given an answer." If Claire has taught me anything, it's that everything is connected.  I can't wait to read the third book in this series to see if we get answers about who is driving the Lincoln and why they're following Claire, Silette's book Detection and the group of followers its created, the Cynthia Silverton ad, Tracy's disappearance, and how they all connect! For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aditya

    In my review for the first book in the series (by the way this is mainly character based, so reading the series in order is suggested) I was surprised more reviewers had not pegged DeWitt as a junkie. She referred to herself as the greatest detective while doing drugs and coming off as a bit inept. She quoted Silette's Detection, supposedly the greatest book about crime solving but it often seemed Silette was on pretty strong psychedelics. This one leaves no doubts, DeWitt is investigating the d In my review for the first book in the series (by the way this is mainly character based, so reading the series in order is suggested) I was surprised more reviewers had not pegged DeWitt as a junkie. She referred to herself as the greatest detective while doing drugs and coming off as a bit inept. She quoted Silette's Detection, supposedly the greatest book about crime solving but it often seemed Silette was on pretty strong psychedelics. This one leaves no doubts, DeWitt is investigating the death of the one that got away, musician ex boyfriend Paul and is coming apart at the seams. DeWitt is pretty much running on cocaine and bad judgment here. She steals from medicine cabinets of suspects and witnesses alike, sleeps with anything that moves and is generally feeling so pessimistic that it is no wonder the books never really hit the sales figures that lesser mysteries hit on a regular basis. Among crime authors, only James Crumley feature protagonists as far gone as Gran's. In both the cases, the authors seem to draw from their years of personal experience with habits. Crumley was an alcoholic and it would not surprise me if Gran has done her fair share of narcotics. Their protagonists are losers. The law was for people who needed instructions is their motto. They are neither romanticized nor do they discover they had a heart of gold all along, they are self destructive agents of chaos that carry a bone deep sense of lives wasted. It is however not as good as the first one. The action moves from New Orleans to San Francisco, and dilapidated post Katrina Orleans was a much better setting for the lead. It needed more lines like San Francisco wasn’t so big, but people liked to pretend they were in a big city here, with no time for sympathy. Plus the first book had a more focused narrative. Here we get a lot more of DeWitt's backstory, a mystery from the past that sets her on her current path is revealed via flashbacks. I just felt Gran's heart was not in either of the mysteries, they are the backdrop to understand DeWitt. So while there are wonderfully written segments where anyone who has felt frustrated by life will relate with DeWitt, the book as a whole is a tad inconsistent. It also ends on an unnecessary cliffhanger as a lead in to the third book. A problem from the previous back also returns, some of the drug induced hallucinations start to drag. If you have talked to someone who is high, you know most of what they blabber will not make sense. DeWitt's episodes have that feeling, so they feel authentic but they are not always interesting to read. Don't expect a great mystery, expect some wonderful prose and a great protagonist and you will be satisfied. It is just that I know Gran can do better. Rating - 3/5 Quotes: Just as scared as everyone else of giving up their worst self. The self they knew the best. When you love something so much, the thought of doing it but not doing it well hurts almost more than never trying. Almost. You wouldn’t know until you tried it that failing is actually better. P.S. Incidentally it always amazes me how much this series and hippies in general love to dwell on the Eastern mysticism specially Indian mythology. DeWitt calls her mystery The Case of the Kali Yuga. Plus there are other references. India was actually one of the last large countries to criminalize marijuana after Reagan's goading, though ganja has been part of its culture for centuries, hence the hippie love. Hindsight has exposed every Republican President since Nixon as a magnet for iffy decision making and most countries are slowly making medical marijuana legal. Yet in a sad turn of events India is demonizing weed with every passing day. Marijuana being illegal has never made sense to me so I guess it is time for me to go and commit my favorite crime.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Polly

    Anyone else find that the main character, Claire de Witt’s, constant coke and pill popping habit got in the way of the plot? I mean how many mystery solving ‘little grey cells’ would one have left with all the reckless over usage of drugs? That and the random sex with strangers and stealing their prescription drugs. Oh and all the references to the detective’s bible got on my nerves too!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Fantastic. Very close to being a masterpiece. I love how Gran took the bold step to create a very different novel to the first entry in the series. Choosing to avoid a straight continuation of her quirky private eye tale, sending Claire DeWitt out on just another case etc, this odyssey is as much a portrait of despair and addiction and denial as it is a hardboiled detective story, something that verges on being comparable to classics of the genre such as The Long Goodbye or The Last Good Kiss. I Fantastic. Very close to being a masterpiece. I love how Gran took the bold step to create a very different novel to the first entry in the series. Choosing to avoid a straight continuation of her quirky private eye tale, sending Claire DeWitt out on just another case etc, this odyssey is as much a portrait of despair and addiction and denial as it is a hardboiled detective story, something that verges on being comparable to classics of the genre such as The Long Goodbye or The Last Good Kiss. I don't have the time to do this wonderful novel justice with a comprehensive review but if you love noir and bleak literary private eye tales then Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt books are for you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    This one is definitely really a 4.5er for me. I think Sara Gran really brought Claire DeWitt to a new level in this one. The integration of cases past and present gave this book a cadence that made it hard for me to put it down (I think I read it in three days or so). A pleasure to read, while still thought-provoking on a profound level.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David

    The second Claire DeWitt book is as quirky as entertaining as the first; Sara Gran has managed to create a unique and offbeat female detective who so far drags you along on her cases because she's odd, intuitive, empathetic, a hot mess, and uses drugs and palm readings as often as she uses detective work, without involving us in an extensive backstory of past cases and subplots running through multiple books. Though there are recurring characters and references to Claire DeWitt and the City of t The second Claire DeWitt book is as quirky as entertaining as the first; Sara Gran has managed to create a unique and offbeat female detective who so far drags you along on her cases because she's odd, intuitive, empathetic, a hot mess, and uses drugs and palm readings as often as she uses detective work, without involving us in an extensive backstory of past cases and subplots running through multiple books. Though there are recurring characters and references to Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, so this series may face the danger other detective series have succumbed to, of becoming less about the detective work and the cases and more about the ever-growing circle of friends and associates that make up the main character's supporting cast. Claire DeWitt was taught by Constance Darling, the "world's greatest detective," who was a student of the famous detective Jacques Silette, the French "father of detective work." Gran has already created her own little mythos here in an onstensibly mundane detective series. In the second book of Claire's adventures, she is back home in San Francisco, when an ex-lover is killed. Claire, naturally, is put on the case. The wife is the most obvious suspect, of course, but solving her ex's murder is really the least interesting thing about this book - when all is revealed, it's the journey we remember. We learn more about Claire's adolescence, as the book alternates between her current case and one of her first, back when she and one of her teenage friends were aspiring "girl detectives" and set out to find a missing friend in New York City. This turns out to be loosely tied to her current case, but mostly it's a deeper delve into what makes Claire so fucked up. Our protagonist unashamedly snorts lines of coke before interviewing people, passes out in bathrooms after one-night stands, has visions which are probably just hallucinations, and considers signs and omens to be clues. Yet she dispenses a sort of gritty worldly wisdom wrapped in New Age trappings, and always reminds us that what she is looking for is not justice, but truth, the thing her clients usually don't actually want. Definitely one of my series to follow; Claire DeWitt is a strange bird and I hope she has more trips ahead of her.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annie Lee Phillips

    This is the second in Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt series after Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, and I simply cannot wait for #3 to come out. Claire DeWitt is not your ordinary detective. In addition to more standard methods of detection, Claire relies on mind altering substances, dreams, apparitions, signs, and symbols to get the job done. I think CNN put it best: “as if David Lynch directed a Raymond Chandler novel.” In addition to the mystery at hand, the long-term mystery through both This is the second in Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt series after Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, and I simply cannot wait for #3 to come out. Claire DeWitt is not your ordinary detective. In addition to more standard methods of detection, Claire relies on mind altering substances, dreams, apparitions, signs, and symbols to get the job done. I think CNN put it best: “as if David Lynch directed a Raymond Chandler novel.” In addition to the mystery at hand, the long-term mystery through both books has been the decades-long disappearance of Claire’s best friend and partner Tracy from their Brooklyn neighborhood. The first book, The City of the Dead, has Claire trying to locate an ADA in post-Katrina New Orleans. In the Bohemian Highway, we are taken to San Francisco as Claire tried to solve the brutal murder of her ex-boyfriend, popular local musician Paul Casablancas. Gran is skilled at evoking a powerful sense of place, as well as creating a spooky ambiance as Claire not only tries to solve the mystery at hand, but also deals with the fallout from Tracy’s disappearance and her own particularly vicious demons. After reading this second installment, Sara Gran has already become one of my favorite authors. My next move is to go back and read her first two stand-alone novels – Dope, and Come Closer.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    As I remarked in yesterday's review of the first Claire DeWitt novel, Sara Gran is one of those writers who can't write fast enough for this reader. Her style is punchy and solid, with believable dialogue that zings. I didn't know until after completing this second book that she has written for one of my favorite tv shows, Southland. She peoples her books with characters she only could have met and elaborated on, as with the cities that Claire inhabits. There are more than one mysteries containe As I remarked in yesterday's review of the first Claire DeWitt novel, Sara Gran is one of those writers who can't write fast enough for this reader. Her style is punchy and solid, with believable dialogue that zings. I didn't know until after completing this second book that she has written for one of my favorite tv shows, Southland. She peoples her books with characters she only could have met and elaborated on, as with the cities that Claire inhabits. There are more than one mysteries contained herein, and she gives her cases whimsical titles that almost make them into Nancy Drew books for adults (The Case of the Green Parrot, for example). But as with Jackson Brodie's continued inquest into his sister's death in Kate Atkinson's quartet of novels, Claire is haunted by the seemingly unsolvable disappearance of her best friend in 1987, Gran has said that she's only planning to write 4 novels in this series, which makes me as sad as Zoe Ferraris's announcement that she's stopping at the 3 novels in her Saudi Arabian thrillers. Some authors just know when to quit, but that makes it hard for those of us who admire their work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    judy

    It's not that the empress has no clothes--it's that she can't find them because she's coked out of her head. I truly loved the first Claire DeWitt. I was ready to be just as blown away by this one. I even saved it for last in my stack of books just so I could savor it. I've never done that before. All was well when I started out. I felt the rush I'd had with the first Claire. I was experiencing a new kind of mystery writing--until I wasn't. As I read on her whole way of detecting and the mentors It's not that the empress has no clothes--it's that she can't find them because she's coked out of her head. I truly loved the first Claire DeWitt. I was ready to be just as blown away by this one. I even saved it for last in my stack of books just so I could savor it. I've never done that before. All was well when I started out. I felt the rush I'd had with the first Claire. I was experiencing a new kind of mystery writing--until I wasn't. As I read on her whole way of detecting and the mentors she'd had became less and less interesting. It didn't take long for it to reach stale. I kept plodding through because, just like Claire suddenly knows what's on the other side of a door, I knew in my heart it wasn't going to get better but I'd still get some phrases to enjoy. Gran can be an amazingly creative writer but the few gems I find aren't worth reading the whole book. As for her little droplets of philosophy/wisdom most are useless or worse if you actually read them. Frankly, I get more enlightenment from the musings of Henri, Le Chat Noir, the Web's first existential philosopher cat. हमेशा के लिए अलविदा

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Schaeffer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really enjoyed the first Claire DeWitt novel. I really struggled with this one. It started ok, then became pretty pointless. It wasn't necessarily the nihilism with the drugs and skanky behavior, that made it hard to read, it just seemed that the story was dragging on. Honestly, the current case wasn't that difficult to solve, it was pretty obvious who the murderer was. I quit reading it, and was not going to go back. Then in a moment of weakness I decided to pick it up and give it a go, and g I really enjoyed the first Claire DeWitt novel. I really struggled with this one. It started ok, then became pretty pointless. It wasn't necessarily the nihilism with the drugs and skanky behavior, that made it hard to read, it just seemed that the story was dragging on. Honestly, the current case wasn't that difficult to solve, it was pretty obvious who the murderer was. I quit reading it, and was not going to go back. Then in a moment of weakness I decided to pick it up and give it a go, and got close to the end, so I had to finish it. Despite not really enjoying the book, the cliff hanging finish now is luring me into reading the 3rd one. Clever ruse by the author, I haven't decided yet if I'll fall for it...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Seluxes

    Excellent second installment in the Claire de Witt series that left me wanting more—a Gran standard that never lets me down. I did guess the murderer fairly early on in the story but I am not reading Gran's mysteries for the outcome, so no grudges held. Claire seems to be headed toward a showdown with herself (and possibly her BFF from high school and fellow Silette detective). I definitely want to read about that. I've had trouble procuring book three in the series so I am at an impasse for the Excellent second installment in the Claire de Witt series that left me wanting more—a Gran standard that never lets me down. I did guess the murderer fairly early on in the story but I am not reading Gran's mysteries for the outcome, so no grudges held. Claire seems to be headed toward a showdown with herself (and possibly her BFF from high school and fellow Silette detective). I definitely want to read about that. I've had trouble procuring book three in the series so I am at an impasse for the moment.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Doug Hoffman

    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 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I love this book even more than the first one in this series. Claire seems to live in a film noir, suffering through the disappearances and deaths of those she holds dear. The importance that the book Detection holds, the touches of San Francisco, the fact that Claire tries to be so tough but needs more and more drugs and alcohol to deal with the death of her ex - and the weaving throughout of Claire's story as a young girl before her best friend disappeared - all of this was so wonderful to rea I love this book even more than the first one in this series. Claire seems to live in a film noir, suffering through the disappearances and deaths of those she holds dear. The importance that the book Detection holds, the touches of San Francisco, the fact that Claire tries to be so tough but needs more and more drugs and alcohol to deal with the death of her ex - and the weaving throughout of Claire's story as a young girl before her best friend disappeared - all of this was so wonderful to read. I'm glad there's now a third book in this series.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    I loved this book! So much so that I broke my usual rule of not giving mysteries 5 stars; after all, how can most mysteries get the same number of stars as Dostoevsky, or Proust? And, of course, this book doesn't really stand next to those but I enjoyed it so much, I had to give it 5 stars. Lately, I haven't been enjoying mysteries, a genre I used to love and turned to for relaxation. But most mysteries now feel predictable; even if I don't guess the ending (which I usually do) the world is too f I loved this book! So much so that I broke my usual rule of not giving mysteries 5 stars; after all, how can most mysteries get the same number of stars as Dostoevsky, or Proust? And, of course, this book doesn't really stand next to those but I enjoyed it so much, I had to give it 5 stars. Lately, I haven't been enjoying mysteries, a genre I used to love and turned to for relaxation. But most mysteries now feel predictable; even if I don't guess the ending (which I usually do) the world is too familiar to me. But this book shook me up. Claire is about 40, give or take a year, and has seen a lot of the world. She is hardly a figure to emulate: a devotee of cocaine and casual sex and an extremely negative world-view, she also has an almost childlike belief in the existence of ultimate truth and that people are worth saving or if they have been killed, worth knowing who did it. A follower of (imaginary) detective Jacques Silette, detection is a mystical art for Claire (one way he teaches to solve mysteries is through dreams). In Bohemian Highway, a former lover of Claire's is murdered, seemingly in the course of a highway. Along with solving this case, Claire investigates several others: the murder of miniature horses and the disappearance of an old, teenage friend (the book also narrates Claire's life as an adolescent detective back in Brooklyn--I especially loved those chapters and the look at teenage Claire, newly discovering Silette and the art of detection). Claire drugs her way through the case, with many unwelcome discoveries about herself as well as the crime at hand. The atmosphere is Raymond Chandlerlesque with San Francisco as its noir background. Claire is as jaded and skeptical as is appropriate for this genre. This is the second book in the series (don't ask why I started with the second: I have no idea). I can't wait to read the first one, which I've already bought, and which I hear is even better than the second. Hopefully, there will be many installment, all of the high quality of this one. I've given up on most series but I am looking forward to this one. Gran is a fine and original writer. May she write many more books!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Almeta

    I had a difficult time following the significance of past and present case relationships and am totally confused by the insight of an illustrious French private detective, Jacques Silette and his pearls of wisdom found in his rare book, Detection. I am also surprised by my willingness to accept that the prerequisite of a flawed private eye can be alcoholism but not drug addiction. I allow bellying up to the bar for shots until staggering home, or taking belts from the bottle hidden in a desk draw I had a difficult time following the significance of past and present case relationships and am totally confused by the insight of an illustrious French private detective, Jacques Silette and his pearls of wisdom found in his rare book, Detection. I am also surprised by my willingness to accept that the prerequisite of a flawed private eye can be alcoholism but not drug addiction. I allow bellying up to the bar for shots until staggering home, or taking belts from the bottle hidden in a desk drawer, or slouching on the sofa in underwear drinking glass after glass while watching I Love Lucy reruns on the tube, BUT won't accept the flaw of drug addiction. Snorting lines on a bar's porcelain toilet lid, bumping hits from the end of a key until blood trickles out the nostrils, swiping clients prescription drugs from their medicine chests just wasn't as tolerable to me. So what's up with me? In the end they both end up on the lavatory floor, savoring the chill from the porcelain! OLD SCHOOL!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    From start to finish, I was engrossed with the novel. When I wasn't reading it, I wanted to be reading it. Where others might turn away from the (admittedly intense) drug use and violence and seediness-of-humanity, I leaned into it. It's smart, funny, serious, and heartfelt - but not heartfelt in the way you usually hear that term. Instead, I mean here to say that it makes your heart feel things. If you read this book and connect with it, you might be a Silletian... and if you read it and shrug, From start to finish, I was engrossed with the novel. When I wasn't reading it, I wanted to be reading it. Where others might turn away from the (admittedly intense) drug use and violence and seediness-of-humanity, I leaned into it. It's smart, funny, serious, and heartfelt - but not heartfelt in the way you usually hear that term. Instead, I mean here to say that it makes your heart feel things. If you read this book and connect with it, you might be a Silletian... and if you read it and shrug, then the truth - the real truth, the truth that does not set us free but rather keeps us trudging on - is not for you. More at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-Lu

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    Does NOT stand alone - read Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead first! I found the first book grim, and this one is as well, but in a different way. Less outright violence, although there is some, but more drug use (if you thought that possible) here. Near the end, she's told "You should have died so many times …" to which I added an Amen! The gal abuses her body like some sort of crash dummy. So, there's the negatives dealt with early. As with Dead, the author does a great job with local setti Does NOT stand alone - read Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead first! I found the first book grim, and this one is as well, but in a different way. Less outright violence, although there is some, but more drug use (if you thought that possible) here. Near the end, she's told "You should have died so many times …" to which I added an Amen! The gal abuses her body like some sort of crash dummy. So, there's the negatives dealt with early. As with Dead, the author does a great job with local setting, taking Claire out of the city itself so we don't get fenced in; she does a good job of showing us NYC during the Punk era as well (not that I was a punk then) from a teen point-of-view. I found the shifts between those stories a plus, so that neither was bogged down, with the audio narration making it clear when we were shifting to the other. Claire, to the say the least, is complex. She knows she's not likeable, but she's determined and incredibly loyal. This book seemed to have a bit less magical realism (a/k/a woo-woo) to it, perhaps because it's not overshadowed by her deceased mentor, Constance. A couple of times, she admits to the reader that the New Agey assertation she just stated should be taken as more a throw-away line than an actual belief of hers. So, her appeal is more that one respects her intense loyalty and dedication. And, yeah, she can often be funny without seeming catty about it. Part of what kept me going through book books had to do with Gran's talent for drawing secondary characters, keeping away Too Much Claire. Here, I found the Lama and his assistant (a hoot as initially she hates Claire with a passion) filled the role, as well as Bix in Oakland, naïve to her cynicism. Not sure what I thought of her assistant Claude, as his audio voice may have been a factor, a bit too boyishly eager perhaps? Carol Monda's narration remains outstanding for this sequel. Although she doesn't read the recent third book, the audio sample seems promising. After all that violence and drug use, each a turn off usually, I'll be interested in visiting with Claire again. She's that compelling a character!

  25. 4 out of 5

    vi

    Cracking open this book is like becoming privy to a secret. It’s a secret that doesn’t really affect you, but you’ve desperately wanted to know the answer for years and lifetimes and eternities, so when you finally have the answer it is pure satisfaction with none of the messiness that real-life secrets bring. This book is about 63% philosophy— about life, justice, death, forgiveness, grace. Considering the main character is a chaotic coke addict, that says quite a bit about the pure talent of S Cracking open this book is like becoming privy to a secret. It’s a secret that doesn’t really affect you, but you’ve desperately wanted to know the answer for years and lifetimes and eternities, so when you finally have the answer it is pure satisfaction with none of the messiness that real-life secrets bring. This book is about 63% philosophy— about life, justice, death, forgiveness, grace. Considering the main character is a chaotic coke addict, that says quite a bit about the pure talent of Sara Gran. Now I have to go do some research about the concept of “Kali Yuga,” because I had never heard of anything like this and am very curious to know if it was real. I loved learning more about Claire and her childhood friend Tracy, even found myself surprised that Sara Gran kept that thread up through the second novel, so I’m extremely excited for the third. Easily, easily, a 5 star book. Finished it within a 24 hour period because I was physically unable to put it down, constantly fighting with the part of myself that wanted to stretch the story out. Highly recommend, please read this and message me about it forever.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Esmée

    How has this series not been turned into a TV show yet? Claire DeWitt is the anti-hero we all deserve.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I really liked the first one in this trilogy, and got the third one as a galley recently, and then I found myself in a bookstore in New Orleans, where the first book is set and where book-reading people know and like Gran’s work, so I had to get this second one. It felt a little weaker than the first book, and skewed dark and depressive to the point where I sighed a few times. Hardboiled is as hardboiled does, and I still appreciate Gran’s terse, matter of fact magical realism. I’m hoping she’s I really liked the first one in this trilogy, and got the third one as a galley recently, and then I found myself in a bookstore in New Orleans, where the first book is set and where book-reading people know and like Gran’s work, so I had to get this second one. It felt a little weaker than the first book, and skewed dark and depressive to the point where I sighed a few times. Hardboiled is as hardboiled does, and I still appreciate Gran’s terse, matter of fact magical realism. I’m hoping she’s building towards something bigger in book 3.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Putnam

    I loved the writing and that Claire is a mystical detective. I thought about writing a digression on the Kali Yuga, but I'm on my phone and I make enough typos as it is. Suffice it to say that while Western Religions believe that the worse things get the closer we are to capture, Hinduism believes, to simplify, that we are in a cycle, approximately the age of the universe, and this cycle is kind of not very good. It will end around the time astronomers and astrophysicists, coincidentally or not, I loved the writing and that Claire is a mystical detective. I thought about writing a digression on the Kali Yuga, but I'm on my phone and I make enough typos as it is. Suffice it to say that while Western Religions believe that the worse things get the closer we are to capture, Hinduism believes, to simplify, that we are in a cycle, approximately the age of the universe, and this cycle is kind of not very good. It will end around the time astronomers and astrophysicists, coincidentally or not, think the universe will end. I had an astronomy professor we who loved all this. Not the Fritjof Capra stuff, just the fact that astronomers, Hindus, and Buddhists all placed humanity in the center of existence, temporally. In any case, we're not getting out of this for another 13.8 billion years, approximately, during which Kali remains in charge, or rather her energy drives the is-ness of things. Good news, things not necessarily getting worse overall. Bad news, no rescue, no salvation, no escape except leaving the wheel entirely through enlightment/Nirvana. Ok , that's done. Claire's not there. I like that she's a mystical detective though. I hated all the drug use. I realize it's part of her arc as a character and the arc of the story, but I personally did not want to wallow in it, and I wonder why detectives ALWAYS have to have A) a dead beloved/major trauma in their past, and B) an issue w substances. Why why why? What's wrong w a plain old Agatha's Christie who has her shit together but solves mysteries that are so tangled and difficult and interesting we're sifting through the clues along w her, and because we're engaged w the case? In this case there are exactly two clues. But they are big clues and it's not that hard to piece them together. Therefore Gran relies on a lot of distraction, flashback, and illness to keep you away from the case at hand. When we finally get to it, it's as if Claire miraculously divined what happened and then we have that cliche of cliches, the villains telling us what they did and why. But the writing was strong, everything vivid.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    PI Claire DeWitt doesn't work cases, she solves mysteries. Her problem isn't that she's too hard-boiled, it's that she feels "every little thing right down to [her] bones". Still obsessed with the disappearance of her friend and fellow detective Tracy back in the eighties, she suffers another loss as her old boyfriend Paul is killed in what doesn't look much like the robbery it's supposed to. Following her intuition and the clues she finds in bars, in comic books, in her dreams, she sleuths her PI Claire DeWitt doesn't work cases, she solves mysteries. Her problem isn't that she's too hard-boiled, it's that she feels "every little thing right down to [her] bones". Still obsessed with the disappearance of her friend and fellow detective Tracy back in the eighties, she suffers another loss as her old boyfriend Paul is killed in what doesn't look much like the robbery it's supposed to. Following her intuition and the clues she finds in bars, in comic books, in her dreams, she sleuths her way through San Francisco while emptying other people's medicine cabinets. We are also given a flashback to her teenage years when Tracy was still around co-solving mysteries in seedy sex-clubs in Brooklyn. Claire remembers being a teenager in NYC as a "secret world you gained admittance to at fourteen and left at twenty, swearing never to repeat what you'd seen. No one would believe us, anyway". As if these mysteries weren't intriguing enough, Claire also takes on The Case Of The Missing Miniature Horses, which is exactly what it sounds like. Her theory is that the three feet tall, ashamed looking "little fellows were running away to try to get some big boy genes back in the mix, or maybe committing suicide." It's sad and funny and dark, and I loved it as much as the first book in the series. Sara Gran is a terrific writer, and Claire DeWitt my favorite PI ever.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Edel

    Clare DeWitt is not your stereotypical private eye. This laid back lady is successful at what she does but she is on a downwards spiral after the death of her long time friend Paul. Claire takes up the case to find out who killed her dear friend while her heart is breaking for the loss of him. This is where she really begins on a path of self destruction and you really begin to feel for her. Clare is really suffering and it feels like she is almost trying to end her own life at times. This story Clare DeWitt is not your stereotypical private eye. This laid back lady is successful at what she does but she is on a downwards spiral after the death of her long time friend Paul. Claire takes up the case to find out who killed her dear friend while her heart is breaking for the loss of him. This is where she really begins on a path of self destruction and you really begin to feel for her. Clare is really suffering and it feels like she is almost trying to end her own life at times. This story is hard to put down so takes hardly any time to read. It is the story of a death and a journey and a very satisfying ending. This is a series set in San Francisco that I will definitely be following from now on

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