Sara Gran was an unknown quantity to me prior to reading her latest novel, Dope, a tale of intrigue and murder set in 1950s New York. I did a bit of a background search, unearthing unequivocally complimentary reviews of Gran's previous novel, Come Closer. Twenty pages into Dope, I knew what all the buzz had been about. Grudgingly, I put the book down after 80 pages or so (and well after midnight), and started in on it again first thing the following morning, finishing it shortly after breakfast. Dope's protagonist, Josephine Joe Flannigan, is a former heroin addict, straight for about two years. She makes her living with con games and shoplifting, by most standards a step up from her former careers of doping and prostitution. A wealthy Westchester couple hires Joe to find their socialite daughter Nadine, now a dope fiend on the streets of Greenwich Village. Who better, after all, to find a doper than a reformed user? Shortly after Joe launches her investigation, Nadine's boyfriend/pimp turns up dead. Joe explains the situation to the police, but when they seek corroboration from her employers, no such people can be found. No parents, no Nadine, nada, leaving Joe as the number one suspect in the shooting. Dope is a clever and superbly written noir piece, reminiscent of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. The ending is a major surprise; I reread the last 20 pages just to savor it one more time!

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