Coming soon.....

What I'm reading now: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther Novels) by Phillip Kerr

Friday, November 30, 2007


Dopeby Sara Gran plays out like a classic noir B-movie from the 50’s, all about heroin peddlers and girls gone wrong. Its B-movie status stems from the subject matter and certainly not its depth or fascinating storyline. Dope centers on Josephine, a former junkie and lifelong hustler on the hunt for a missing college girl turned addict. The missing girl’s parents were referred to Joe by a con artist who said the best way to find their daughter was to hire someone familiar with the drug scene. Desperate for cash Joe easily agrees to find the girl and the creep boyfriend she was last seen with, thus beginning this story of multiple deceptions and plot twists. Unfortunately for Joe, giving up junk was just the beginning of a nightmare, throughout this book she is confronted by all the reasons and people she turned to drugs for, and ultimately staying clean doesn’t reap any rewards for her.

The setting and storyline of this book are a nice departure from standard murder plot lines; you don’t read too many relatively serious novels about what it was like to be an addict, and an independent female at that, living in New York City circa 1950. Ms. Gran’s descriptions of the places and people that inhabit this underworld are gritty and realistic; with the 50s being prime time for Leave It To Beaver glimpses of this side of the times stand in stark contrast to the collective memory of that decade. Still Dope keeps a tongue-in-cheek self-consciousness about itself, like the author knows it needs to be hard-boiled and sassy and shouldn’t be taken in complete seriousness, kind of like James Ellroy dialogue. And for the reader, Dope keeps you guessing until the very end, and in general is everything but predictable.

I’m happy to find out about the growing number of female noir and crime fiction authors out there; I’m sure Sara Gran will certainly be at the forefront of this group in the future.

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