Printed on Paper: The Infinite Blacktop by Sarah Gran, 2018,
Quite excellent. Third and best novel of the Claire DeWitt series.
This ends immediately after the second novel, Bohemian Grove, with DeWitt waking up in a stationary ambulance and knowing that someone is trying to kill her. DeWitt gets even more desperate than usual and tries to track down the person trying to murder her.
The novel covers three time periods. One: DeWitt as delinquent teen in NYC. Two: DeWitt as a drifting journeyman investigator who stays in 1992 Los Angeles to earn enough hours to get her P.I. license. Three: DeWitt in present day trying to figure out how her own history has led to a murder attempt on her life. You needn't read the first two books to understand the story but you might as well because the novels are so damn good.
I'll admit the plot is difficult to remember even without my finishing this book about a month ago. DeWitt is doped and boozed so much of the time that the story will truck along and then veer. Her behavior is erratic - sometimes even Claire is so far gone she realizes she is acting strange.
I'll boil it down to this: Claire wants the truth. Claire wants no attachments. She is a true adherent to the teachings of Jacques Silette. The truth is only thing that matters and to reach the truth you have to be entirely independent. DeWitt has been in the roughly acquainted circle of Silette apostles and followers and that loose affiliation has both helped her and bit her hard on the ass.
The truth of a case drives DeWitt but the rest of her life has always been a bit of a mess. She doesn't acre for money or clothes. If she wants sex she'll pick a guy up at the bar. She'll steal prescription drugs when visiting someone. Booze flows like water. Dewitt has her own personal truth to follow and nothing will get in the way - aside from hangovers.
There is even more of DeWitt The Loner here. She is always by herself really because she is alone by choice and nature. This plot has her without her new-ish assistant, mysterious homeless colleagues living in the woods, or a client to interact with. Even the 1992 case has no client - it's her just going through a cold case for a P.I. that was hired by the now dead parent of a missing person.
Comments and Spoilers:
1. The idea that Jacques Silette's missing and assumed abducted daughter is alive and well was very intriguing to me. Gran lays the groundwork and writes up that mystery so damn well. A long lost and never solved event that intrigues but, over time, has left zero clues.
2. Anyhoo. Gran adds in little, grubbing DeWitt comments everywhere.DeWitt is the ultimate cynic. There were several passages and observations by DeWitt that were fantastic. I never marked them down so take my word for it.
3. So much of what Gran writes about makes me wonder if she based any people or plots on historical events. Gran and Abbott, Jr. ran that fantastic blog a few years ago that touched on some of the same vibes of this story.