Book Review: ‘The Feral Detective’ Is A Great Detective Story

Jonathan Lethem is back with his eleventh novel and his first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn. It’s a fascinating story of searching for a missing girl in the aftermath of the 2016 election, an offbeat detective and a woman who is lost as to what is going on in our country. It also looks at parts of California and the desert of a race of people called the Rabbits and the Bears and their beliefs.

Phoebe Siegler lives in New York and is at a loss (like a lot of America) after the 2016 election. She was sure it would be a different outcome. She quits her job at the New York Times and then learns that best friends daughter Arabella has gone missing from her Oregon University. Phoebe decides it’s up to her to find her since she is dismayed with New York and the election.

She heads to California after a lead and is directed to a Private Eye named Charles Heist. He is something else. He’s quicky, mysterious, hot and strange all at the same time (and has a opossum in his desk). Phoebe quickly names him the Feral Detective. He has a great reputation of finding people. He starts his initial investigation and soon Phoebe joins him in the search. It leads to the mountains and then to the desert and his people the Rabbits and the Bears. A group of people that live by their own rules and culture. We learn Charles backstory and how he’s involved with these people.

Soon they are closing in on Arabella in the community where danger also lurks around and soon lives are in danger in this desert community and who survives is anyone’s guess.

The character of Charles Heist is fascinating and I wouldn’t mind reading more novels with him. Phoebe is the voice of the 2016 after election and how a lot of us felt about the election. Blending them together works great here. Both are lost souls and they find they need each other. And I hope whoever reads this doesn’t blush easily (hint hint for something that happens).

There’s a reason The Washington Post calls Jonathan ‘One Of America’s Greatest Storytellers’ and you can find out for yourself on Tuesday, November 6th.

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