Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran.*
Claire DeWitt is a brilliant private detective, trained by Constance Darling who instilled in her the tenets of Jacques Silette's book Détection. Claire's techniques are unusual: she relies a great deal on intuition, dreams and drug-fueled visions for answers to her questions. Though her methods may be unorthodox, she is very successful, and as a result, very expensive.
Having been unable to locate his uncle, D.A. Vic Willing in post-Katrina New Orleans, Leon Salvatore hires Claire some 18 months later. Although Leon says he chose Claire because he'd heard she was "the best", it's obvious he doesn't really expect her to succeed. In response to his question about how she'll proceed, she responds "I'm going to wait and see what happens".
While "waiting" she wanders the city, encountering and questioning seemingly random people. But her instincts never seem to lead her astray; she finds two young men who say they knew Willing. Sure that they're hiding something important, she befriends them.
She comes across people she'd known when she lived in New Orleans, another detective trained by Constance; a social worker. She asks some questions, drinks a great deal, smokes some questionable cigarettes. Throughout it all, she shares her labyrinthine thought processes, dreams and memories, which help the reader to understand her, as well as aiding in her quest.
Written in the first person from Claire's point of view, the story is compelling and totally consuming. The reader is Claire as she roams the storm-struck, desolate streets of New Orleans. Read it slowly, the better to savor Gran's exquisite prose.
*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me an Advance Review Copy.