Top Pick in Mystery, October 2018
Imagine, for a moment, a Nancy Drew mystery told partially in flashback by Nancy herself, a girl grown up into the Best Detective in the World—her own rather immodest appellation—and now facing Her Most Perplexing Case. Then you will begin to have an idea of Sara Gran’s strange yet wildly entertaining novel The Infinite Blacktop. Somewhere along the way, our Nancy (whose name is actually Claire DeWitt) has evolved into a modern-day Sam(antha) Spade, with an overlay of street smarts and Zen calm counterbalancing one another in strangely effective ways. As the book opens, Claire comes very close to getting taken off the board permanently when her rented Kia is deliberately broadsided by a 1982 Lincoln, an event on par with a wooden rowboat getting rammed by the USS Nimitz. As she looks into who is trying to punch her ticket, she is drawn into a rethinking of the one case the Best Detective in the World has never been able to solve: the disappearance of her partner-in-crime-solving back when they were teenagers. As the narrative proceeds, another cold case gets woven in, and Gran deftly jumps back and forth between them, bringing the reader along for a wild ride across the decades.