This isn’t a traditional mystery. Sara Gran’s The Infinite Blacktop is a dizzying ride into the tortured conscience of Claire DeWitt, “the world’s best private detective.” Having read neither of the previous DeWitt novels, I had no preconceived notions about the character, nor about the author, although her earlier work, Dope, is high on my to-be-read list.
Claire DeWitt is the most complex antiheroine I’ve read in a while. She’s smart, tough, and rough around the edges. Gran teases the reader with gritty, dream-like sequences of DeWitt’s saga: as a 15-year-old detective circa 1985; her quest to obtain an official private investigator license in the late 90s; and in 2011, her goal of identifying the person who has tried to kill her in Vegas, and why. The three narratives coalesce into a satisfying denouement.
DeWitt’s musings about the search for truth, her descriptions of friends and foes, and the influence of French detective Jacques Silette are delivered in tight hardboiled style but with a modern perspective. The Infinite Blacktop is an ode to noir and its archetypes while it subverts expectations thereof. Brilliant.