Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran (HMH, June 2013)-One of my favorite female detectives is back in the 2nd novel of Sara Gran’s entertaining series. In Bohemian Highway, Claire must investigate the death of her ex-boyfriend Paul, a musician who is shot and killed in his own home. Paul’s guitars are missing, and his wife, Lydia, also a musician, seems to be beside herself with grief, but some things don’t look right to Claire DeWitt, and the victim’s sister believes that the killer may be Lydia. As Claire wades through the circumstances that surround Paul’s murder, the narrative also goes back to a time in her childhood, before her best friend Tracy goes missing forever, to solve the case of a missing woman. To say that Claire had an unconventional childhood would be putting it mildly. Claire and her friends were borderline feral, and underage drinking at bars and clubs was usually a high priority. What bound them together, however, was their devotion to the teachings of French detective Jacques Silette, who would prove to be a major influence in Claire’s life, not only as a child, but certainly as an adult. Her new assistant, Claude, is young and eager to learn and Claire puts him through his paces as she slides deeper into a hole of drugs and alcohol. Her drug use quickly goes from casual to near constant and by book’s end, she’s nearing the bottom.
There’s always a sense of spiraling when it comes to this series, and Claire’s self-destructive tendencies are indeed at the heart of what makes her so intriguing. Paul’s case is all consuming, and although she does take on other cases, it’s Paul that she ultimately seeks the truth about, and of course, Tracy’s disappearance continues to haunt her. Speaking of haunting, it’s a good word for this series, and although Bohemian Highway didn’t blow me away like the first book, it was an absorbing read and a quick one, because Claire sort of drags you along in her dark wake and doesn’t let you go until the end, and oh, what an ending! I hope she’s got the next one in the works, because it left my jaw dragging on the floor. Mysticism and mystery are a potent mix in this series, and Claire DeWitt is just the kind of flawed detective that I adore.