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The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran
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The Infinite Blacktop (2018)

by Sara Gran

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Claire DeWitt is not a typical propagandist in a mystery story or thriller. In fact, her type of character is usually either the victim or a major suspect. While she appears very independent and tough, she plays very loosely with the law, stealing cars whenever she needs one. She uses drugs and has quite informal sexual unions.
When they were in school girls, Claire and her two best friends were avid followers of a fictional girl detective. Inspired by her, they began solving crimes, often successfully. Then one of them disappeared. Claire continued trying to solve crimes.
Years later, in order to collect enough hours experience to get a private investigator license, she decided to take on an old, unsolved case about the death of an artist in an auto accident soon after his artist girlfriend died.
A dozen years after tyat, Soon but soon finds herself in an ambulance, victim of a deliberate car crash.
Claire knows she must find out who tried to kill her and why. Along the way, she revisits the old case as well as that of her school friends and the disappearance.
Tidbit: “When your heart is broken, you can cling to your old, ugly, broken heart, and let it make you ugly. Or you can let that broken heart fall away and die, and let something new and beautiful be born. Your heart will break again, and nothing will change that. The only variable is if you’re going to enjoy life, at least a little, between the broken heart.”
Sara Gran does a good job keeping an intricate plot moving though it does require some diligence on the part of the reader. ( )
  Judiex | May 22, 2019 |
I got to page 63 and quit, tired of the meandering plot threads and references to past cases with no hints at how they relate to the current case. ( )
  phyllis.shepherd | Apr 4, 2019 |
This book was not for me at all. I was confused a lot of the time, even though the chapters were chronologically dated. I am a person who likes straightforward mysteries. Claire DeWitt is an interesting detective. I’d love to see her team up with Harry Bosch. I think he could get her to think the way I wanted her to think. I read a lot and what I did appreciate was the author’s thinking outside the box. ( )
  brangwinn | Jan 28, 2019 |
When I first started reading this book, I had my doubts. However, I quickly became a fan. In this tale, private investigator Claire DeWitt is involved with three cases from three different time periods. The author cleverly winds them all together in a well-written story that keeps the reader entranced until the very end. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Jan 7, 2019 |
Synopsis/blurb....

The "delicious and addictive" (Salon) Claire DeWitt series returns with a thrilling, noirish knockout of a novel that follows three separate narratives starring the self-proclaimed "world's greatest detective." As Cara Hoffman, author of Running, says, this "is a hard-boiled, existential masterpiece."

Claire DeWitt, the world's best private detective, wakes up one dark night in an ambulance in Oakland: someone has just tried to murder her. But she's not dead. Not yet.

More sure of herself than of the police, Claire follows the clues on a 52-hour odyssey through shimmering Las Vegas and the shabby surrounding desert to find out who wants her dead. But in order to save herself, Claire will have to revisit her own complicated past as she navigates the present: a past of childhood obsessions, rival detectives, lost friends, and mysteries mostly - but not always - solved.

Three intertwining stories illuminate three eras of Claire's life: her early years as an ambitious girl detective in Brooklyn (before it was gentrified), which ended when her best friend and partner in crime-solving disappeared; a case of an unexplained death in the art world of late-1990s Los Angeles, when, devastated by the demise of her mentor in New Orleans, Claire was forced to start again; and her current quest to save her own life from a determined assassin.

As the connections between the stories come into focus, the truth becomes clear. But Claire, battered and bruised, will never quit her search for the answer to the biggest mystery of all: how can anyone survive in a world so clearly designed to break our hearts?
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My take....

Complicated, enthralling and a little bit head-scratching at the finale, which far from marring my enjoyment of this book, just has me thinking about it at odd moments ever since I've finished it. I'm tempted to re-read the last dozen or so pages to try and enlighten myself, or maybe not, maybe it will come to me at an odd moment of reflection.

The Infinite Blacktop is the third Claire DeWitt series book, but worked well enough for me on its own. I do have the first on the shelves somewhere (City of the Dead) which I'll get to one day, which will then give a better indication of whether to pony up for the second.

Claire is a PI and the self proclaimed best detective in the world and someone just tried to kill her with a car. We endeavour to discover who and why. We get the who in the end and Claire gets the why, me I'm still figuring it all out.

The journey to that point is bloody marvellous though, as several other cases and timelines are woven into the mystery. There's a Los Angeles cold case in the late 90s - the death of an artist which Claire works to gain the hours for her Californian PI license and there is the more personal mystery of the disappearance of one of Claire's teenage friends, back in New York when they were young adolescents sucked into the world of solving mysteries because of the teenage detective Cynthia Silverton magazine. Best friend, Tracy vanished without a trace and Claire's world has never been quite the same since.

Along the way, we discover the rivalries in the world of detection and the differing schools of approach to solving a mystery. Jacques Silette's great book Detection, discovered in the attic of her parent's house offering DeWitt her inspiration and direction. There's also the labelling of all the cases she has involvement in - The Case of the Curse of the White Pearl of the Tomb of the Lost Golden Lotus, The Case of Broken Lily etc etc. I'm still trying to recall what the labelling reminds me of.

DeWitt is an incredible character and a contradiction - on the surface, she's tough, capable, violent, irrational, destructive, intelligent; whilst at the same time lonely, vulnerable, afraid. We keenly feel her ongoing grief at the loss of her mentor,Constance Darling best friend and maybe lover. She's compelling reading. And I'm not going to disagree, she may be the best detective in the world.

Lots to enjoy here, the landscape of LA - in the late 90s and our present day Oakland (ok 2011); the flip-flopping timelines and tales. I was so totally immersed in the investigation into the death of the LA artist that I was kind of sad to be dragged back to Oakland and another spell trying to get closer to the present day mystery of who was trying to kill our heroine. Then in turn I was mesmerised by the Las Vegas scenes and the unravelling of the origins of the Cynthia Magazine, a key factor in two of our puzzles.

Quirky, off-beat, unusual and enthralling. I liked this a lot more than I kind of expected to.

4.5 from 5

Sara Gran has published five previous novels - three standalones including Come Closer and Dope and three Claire DeWitt mysteries. She's an author I'll definitely read more from in the future.

Read in October, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 220
Source - Net Galley early reviewer's site
Format - ePub file read on laptop.

https://col2910.blogspot.com/2018/10/sara-gran-infinite-blacktop-2018.html ( )
  col2910 | Oct 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Kill all the wise men. Burn all the books. The kingdom of truth is your birthright, and the only thing standing in between you and the kingdom is your own monstrous, idiotic, self. JACQUES SILETTE, DÉTECTION
Dedication
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I fell into consciousness with a sudden, frightening, crash.
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It was all just a long, infinite, blacktop of things you'd regret not enjoying later.
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Claire DeWitt, the hard-living and tough-talking private investigator, has always been something of a detective. As a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, Claire and her two best friends, Tracy and Kelly, fell under the spell of the book Detection by legendary French detective Jacques Silette. The three solved many cases together and were inseparable--until the day Tracy vanished without a trace. That is still the only case Claire ever failed to solve. Later, in her twenties, Claire is in Los Angeles trying to get her PI license by taking on a cold case that has stumped the LAPD. She hunts for the real story behind the death of a washed-up painter ten years earlier, whose successful and widely admired artist girlfriend had died a few months before him. Today, Claire is on her way to Las Vegas from San Francisco when she's almost killed by a homicidal driver. In a haze of drugs and injuries, she struggles off the scene, determined to find her would-be killer's identity--but the list of people who would be happy to see her dead is not a short one. As these three narratives converge, some mysteries are solved and others continue to haunt. But Claire, battered and bruised, continues her search for the answer to the biggest mystery of all: what is the purpose of our lives, and how can anyone survive in a world so clearly designed to break our hearts again and again?… (more)

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