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Dope: A Novelby Sara Gran
Synopses & Reviews
A raw, explosive, genre-bending tour de force destined for comparison with Kate Atkinson's Case Histories and Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn.
Josephine Flannigan should be dead by now. From an overdose, or a cop's bullet, or run down in some back alley. But after a childhood in Hell's Kitchen and a lifetime on drugs, by 1950 she's finally cleaned up her act and gotten out of trouble — or so she thinks.
Things start to look up for Josephine when a suburban couple offers her $1,000 to help find their daughter, a Barnard student who's disappeared into the dark subculture of heroin addiction. But nothing is as simple as it seems. Joe's journey back into a world she thought she'd left behind becomes more vertiginous at every turn — a harrowing descent into deceit and manipulation that makes it impossible to distinguish friend from foe, and leads her to a choice that will haunt her to the end of her days.
"After her well-received horror tale Come Closer, you can't blame Gran for trying her hand at a 1950s noir, but her turns on stripped-down conventions are less sharp this time out. Gran's heroine, Josephine 'Joe' Flannigan, is a former heroin addict and hooker who has recast herself as a petty thief and con. Working her home turf, New York City's Hell's Kitchen, she is taken up by a mysterious well-to-do couple offering her $1,000 up front and another $1,000 on delivery to find their addict daughter, expelled from Barnard and lost to the streets. The reader never actually sees Joe do any thieving or conning, because she's got that $1,000 to ride on. Instead, Joe's search for the missing coed takes her on a cliché-ridden tour of the bare apartments and public parks frequented by the junkies who used to be her friends. (And it's the '50s, so teenagers listen to 45s, and black Chevrolets are still cool.) Joe's troubled relationship with little sister Shelley is a very engaging conflict, but Gran doesn't bring them together often enough. It never occurs to Joe that she may be being conned herself, and her hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold routine wears thin, but she's easy to root for." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Good plot twists and a great noir ending seal the deal. Gran's previous books are in very different styles; perhaps she's finding herself in crime." Booklist
"[O]riginal and compelling....A gripping mystery, but Gran's real success is in recreating 1950s New York...a mosaic of everything sad and ugly about addiction. Burroughs meets Hammett in this gritty, at times tragic, noir." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Gran treats us to a grim but oddly elegiac tour of the good-old, bad-old days." Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"Dope is marred only by a murky ending that seems to come out of the blue. But getting to that end is some fun." Detroit Free Press
"An astonishing novel, one that deserves a place of honor next to Hammett, Thompson and Chandler...one of the meanest, grittiest hard-boiled crime stories of ever written — and the first great noir novel from the mind of a woman." Bruce DeSilva, Associated Press
"A compulsive, dynamic read, written con brio — a perfect noir pastiche but with a life and character all its own." Kate Atkinson, author of Case Histories
"Tight and polished and exquisitely crafted." Robert B. Parker
"If Raymond Chandler knew then what we know now, he might have written a book like this. Highly recommended." Lee Child, author of One Shot and Persuader
"May be the most surprising read this year." Glamour
Josephine Flannigan should be dead by now. From an overdose, or a cop's bullet, or run down in some back alley. But, after a childhood in Hell's Kitchen and a lifetime on drugs, by 1950 she's finally cleaned up her act and gotten out of trouble...or so she thinks.
From the author of Come Closer comes the most highly acclaimed-and unusual-thriller of the year. Josephine, a former addict, is offered a thousand dollars to find a suburban couple's missing daughter. But the search will take her into the dark underbelly of New York she thought she'd escaped-and a web of deceit that threatens to destroy her.
About the Author
Sara Gran grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in cultural anthropology in 1993. Her first novel, Saturn's Return to New York, was published in 2001, and is being currently being developed into a film by Domenica Cameron-Scorcese. Her second novel, Come Closer, was published in 2003 to overwhelming critical favor and has been optioned by the Weinstein Company/ Dimension Films. Her short stories have appeared in Atlantic Unbound, Small Spiral Notebook, Haypenny, and the Land-Grant College Review.
Before making a living as a writer, Ms. Gran worked as a bookseller in New York City. In 2004, she moved to New Orleans; her building, constructed in the 1800s, was among the few not damaged or flooded by Hurricane Katrina. She is currently at work on her fourth novel, set in New Orleans.
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