Sara Gran's third novel, Dope, is a great piece of noir crime fiction that snaps, crackles and pops like no one has since Robert B. Parker started cutting and pasting old macros instead of writing new books. I can read Josephine Flannigan's narration and almost hear Lauren Bacall's voice, and the story itself seems like it was written in black and white, the way it should be filmed if it's ever a movie. Though Dope's plot has the appropriate twists and turns, it's still like a spear; it has no branches or extensions that unbalance it or keep it from moving forward. Josephine's hired by a wealthy couple to track down their daughter in 1950 New York City. They're afraid she's fallen into the drug and prostitution swamp of Hell's Kitchen, and they think Josephine can find her because she's straight out of that scene, herself a recovering addict.
In the end, Dope is hampered by one twist too many, especially since that twist sends you a telegram from several miles off to announce its arrival. But you can spend your book-buying money on stuff that's a lot worse. We all have.