After just reading Too Darn Hot by Sandra Scoppettone, which is a detective novel set in New York in World War II, I picked up Dope by Sara Gran. Why? Because Bookseller Chick reminded me that this is the book that Max Perkins outed himself for. Dope is set in New York as well, in the fifties, a short decade after Faye Quick solved her murders. But it's a thousand miles away from it in tone and content.
Gran has played with the noir genre here, making her 'detective' a female ex-junkie trying to get by on what she can steal. Josephine (Joe) is hired by two well-to-do Westchester parents trying to find their daughter, who dropped out of Barnard and disappeared into the drug culture.
The great pleasure of this book was Joe. She's a horrible detective. Pretty good at being a recovered junkie, though. She makes the same kind of naive mistakes that I would make if someone hired me to find someone. She is never one step ahead. Gran expresses wonderfully the muddled mess of emotions and motivations that most of us walk around as - and I still don't know how she did it, because Joe's internal dialogue was spare and terse. Nonetheless her feelings leapt off the page.
I liked Joe and that made this a difficult book to read, because she has a pretty shitty life. But it paid off in delight and heartache.