“The very best detective in the world”—just ask her—solves what she dubs the Case of the Kali Yuga, with digressions to, among a hundred other subjects, the Case of the End of the World.
Claire DeWitt isn’t exactly sorry that guitarist Paul Casablancas split up with her and married her friend Lydia Nunez. But she’s not ready for the news that Paul’s been shot dead either. Detective Madeline Huong, of the San Francisco PD, is convinced with some reason that Paul, coming home around midnight, interrupted whoever was in the middle of stealing five of his guitars and was killed for his trouble. If it wasn’t a robber, conventional wisdom says that the murderer was almost certainly the wife. But Claire, no slave to convention, decides she owes Paul’s death a closer look. The trouble is that, both as detective and as narrator, Claire is so unfocused that you’d think she had a bad case of ADHD if it weren’t for all the drugs she’s taking. It’s not just that she keeps interrupting her present-day story for a series of flashbacks to the time 25 years ago when she and her best bud Tracy went looking through darkest Brooklyn for their vanished friend Chloe Roman; almost any encounter with any of the dozens of people she talks to or sleeps with will act on Claire like a shiny object, unleashing dreams and memories and aphorisms from her idol Jacques Silette, the nonpareil detective who couldn’t find his own missing daughter. Gran’s structure is beyond episodic; there’s just one scene after another, some funny, some just snarky, and the plot never thickens.
Hip, smart, inventive and thoroughly infuriating. The heroine (Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, 2011) is someone you’ll either love or love to hate.