The Feral Detective

Jonathan Lethem (Lucky AlanMotherless Brooklyn) turns the traditional private eye novel inside out. Still told in first person, The Feral Detective isn't narrated by the investigator, Charles Heist, but rather by his client, Phoebe Siegler.

After abruptly leaving her job, Phoebe agrees to search for her friend's missing teenage daughter, Arabella. After being referred to Heist, Phoebe isn't quite prepared for what she finds when she meets the detective with the strange nickname. In his desk drawer is an ailing opossum named Jean and in the armoire a young girl named Melinda who "isn't much for moms and dads." Nevertheless, Heist agrees to make some inquiries about Arabella. Accompanied by his three dogs, he takes Phoebe to a homeless community in a drainpipe, to the Buddhist Zendo on Baldy Mountain and to the Mojave Desert, where they encounter two groups living off the grid and in the midst of a violent conflict. Finding Arabella and returning all humans and canines safely back to civilization may be easier said than done.

Lethem crafts a complex plot with swift momentum as well as a meticulous sense of place. He envelops his readers in the sights, sounds and smells of The Feral Detective's environs. In his characters, Lethem creates endless depth. Phoebe's sarcasm functions as a defense mechanism in a world she's no longer able to comprehend. Heist, on the other hand, comprehends his world only too well and finds comfort in silence. An odd pairing who ultimately fit perfectly together. Dark, funny, brutal, honest, The Feral Detective delivers an engrossing mystery written with fortitude and beauty. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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