Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead - Sara Gran

I'm two hours into this book and I have no idea what it's about. I know what's happening but I'm not sure that that's answering the same question (actually, that's the book talking).


This is Noire but not as I know it.


This is the lovechild of Raymond Chandler and Jean-Paul Satre.


Claire Dewitt, who makes Philip Marlowe seem like a romantic softy with a tendency to take things too literally, solves cases, sorry, mysteries, by using a kind of muscular mysticism that is stretched tight over a skeleton of existential panic with grief as its marrow.


More than a year after Katrina, Claire, a PI, is investigating the disappearance and possible death of a wealthy man in New Orleans during the storm. She is guided in this by a book called "Détection" by Cillette, a French criminologist who has a very out-there view of what detection is.


There is little action and what there is involves many mundane frustrations and a lot of waiting.


Yet I'm carried along by the absolute authority of the writing and the vivid descriptions of the desolation of much of post-Katrina New Orleans.


At one point Claire talks about the first time she and her teenage friends read "Détection". Her experience of it is eerily similar to what Sara Gran is putting me through.


"'Détection' was a door to another world.  A world where, even if we didn’t understand things, we were sure they could be understood. A world where people paid attention, where they listened, where they looked for clues. A world where mysteries could be solved or so we thought.


By the time we realised we were wrong, that we had misunderstood everything, it was too late, Cillette had already branded us. For better or worse, we were not the same girls any more."