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By Tavish McT on 10-30-13
Suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride
I can’t say I’m a big fan of gumshoe novels, but I could spend a lot of time with Claire DeWitt, the “world’s greatest detective” and not afraid to tell you so. Sara Gran breaks the mold and creates a fresh new voice for the Claire DeWitt novels and the Audible versions narrated by Carol Monda are most certainly worth a listen.
If you're not already familiar with Claire DeWitt, I would strongly suggest reading or listening to “Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead” first. I revisited it after finishing “Bohemian Highway” and, not only is it a better story, you have the pleasure of being introduced to Jaques Silette, master detective, and his master treatise “Detection” that guides the work of his Silettian disciples. Silette and his teachings feature heavily in this latest book also.
Bohemian Highway jumps back and forth between two stories, one based in San Francisco, the other in Brooklyn, NY. The NY story centers on Claire’s teen years and recounts how her life and that of her friend Tracy was ruining by stumbling across a copy of Detection. The west-coast thread revolves around the murder of one of Claire’s exes, Paul Casablancas, and her attempts to nail the killer even as she struggles to come to terms with the depth of her feelings for her former lover. Transitions between the two storylines are somewhat disruptive but both are solid, even though the book had a much woollier overall feel than City of the Dead.
Dear Claire already had a serious drug habit in the previous book but in this one she’s routinely snorting enough cocaine to fell a bull elephant. The reader ends up feeling somewhat disgusted by her excesses, but that’s rather the point. Regardless, she’s a compelling character that seeks clues in dreams, charms, and Buddhist teachings, and it’s hard to stop listening once you hit the Play button.
Carol Monda is once again excellent as the voice of Claire and I hope we hear more from all three.
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7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Denise Declue on 08-01-13
Perfect Match: Author and Reader
Sara Gran is my new fave detective author. Claire DeWitt seems to have grown up on hard-boiled dicks & Gran has invented the perfect "best friend" to share insights and prod action: an old French how-to detective book. Carol Monda is a superb reader--just a great combo. I loved Claire D-W & the City of the Dead. This one is great too. We need more, more more!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By David on 08-21-15
The world's greatest detective is back
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 messed 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.
The performance by Carol Monda is near-perfect, giving Claire a hoarse, earthy personality that fits her, while also carrying off the Brooklyn accents in the flashback chapters.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By carina on 05-29-14
Not for the Weak at Heart
What did you love best about Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway?
I don't know why I like the Claire DeWitt stories. This is a "Mystery" to me.There's unending over-the-top raunchy language, a drug culture foreign to me that nearly kills Claire, yet I'd immediately buy the next book (hopefully there will be a next one). Maybe it's just that I love Claire and her crazy profession and tough life. There must be a part of me drawn to the darkness of this story meaning "there but for fortune go you or I".
What did you like best about this story?
I love the names Claire chooses for her case files and how this book has not forgotten the characters from New Orleans, the case of the Green Parrot. I also like the quotes from the book that brought Claire and her two friends into detective work. The case from Claire's past and her present case are woven together skillfully.
Have you listened to any of Carol Monda’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I've only heard her read Sara's first book. I don't think anyone else could read Sara Gran's characters. Carol's rather rough and gravelly voice fits my idea of who Claire is, and the profanity sounds so natural. Not everyone could do that. I am amazed at how well Carol changes character voices. I have no problem following and believing in them.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes. I didn't want it to end.
Any additional comments?
Please another book. We're left hanging as to Claire's fate.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Margaret on 01-20-18
Depressing as hell!
Although I found this book to be sad and depressing, I did listen to the end, hence the 2 stars. I liked the narrator, but this character is the best example of the need for prozac and rehab. I couldn't even root for her in the end. It's a bummer of a book.
By galina on 07-22-13
Waste of credit
Is there anything you would change about this book?
Boring. Silly whine of a drug addict.
What could Sara Gran have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Less drugs more action.
What about Carol Monda’s performance did you like?
Do you think Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
Any additional comments?
The story is boring and depressing.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful