by Sara Gran


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From the author of Come Closer and the Claire DeWitt series comes a highly acclaimed—and unusual—gritty thriller about a missing girl... and the addict tasked with saving her.

Josephine, a former addict, is offered a thousand dollars to find a suburban couple’s missing daughter. But the search will take her into the dark underbelly of New York she thought she’d escaped—and a web of deceit that threatens to destroy her.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399153457
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date: 02/02/2006
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 7.26(h) x 1.08(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Sara Gran grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in cultural anthropology in 1993. Her first novel, Saturn’s Return to New York, was published in 2001, and is being currently being developed into a film by Domenica Cameron-Scorcese. Her second novel, Come Closer, was published in 2003 to overwhelming critical favor. Praised by Bret Easton Ellis as “one of the most precise and graceful pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long time,” it has since been published in eight other countries and has been optioned by The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films.

Her short stories have appeared in Atlantic Unbound, the online home of the Atlantic Monthly, Small Spiral Notebook, Haypenny, and the Land-Grant College Review.

What People are Saying About This


"May be the most surprising read this year."

Kate Atkinson

"A compulsive, dynamic read, written con brio --a perfect noir pastiche but with a life and character all its own."

Sarah Weinman

"Everything, absolutely everything, is pitch-perfect."

Detroit Free Press

"A heck of a book [with] lots of self-deprecating humor and....[a] big heart."

Richard Rayner

"A thrilling, heartbreaking journey through the heroin underbelly of 1950s New York. I was more than hooked. I was blown away."

Lee Child

"If Raymond Chandler knew then what we know now, he might have written a book like this. Highly recommended."

Robert B. Parker

"Tight and polished and exquisitely crafted."

Ken Bruen

"This is truly a major writer who can literally go in any direction she wishes and still be way ahead of anything else being published."

Jason Starr

"A breakout novel in every sense: ambitious, fast-paced, suspenseful, and important. It's also one of the most entertaining mysteries I've read in years."


Ransom Notes Interview with Sara Gran

Paul Goat Allen: Sara, first off, congratulations on a breathtaking novel. I was absolutely blown away by the story's overwhelming sense of realism. As a 30-something author, what was the inspiration behind writing a novel set in the 1950s that revolved around a recovering heroin addict?

Sara Gran: Thank you! I had long wanted to write a book that took place in the same world as the great noir books and movies of that era, but more specifically a world that was inhabited by real people, complicated and strange as they are. Once I began, and the character was there, everything followed from that. It wasn't a conscious decision to write about, say, heroin -- the addiction aspect of it was a natural extension of the character's personality. The same with the setting, the place, and the time.

PGA: What kind of research goes into writing a novel like this?

SG: I read old dictionaries of slang, old and new books about cons and con artists, and of course a lot of books about drugs and a lot of mystery novels. I bought dozens of pulp paperbacks on eBay. I read everything I could find about heroin use in that era, which wasn't much. It wasn't well publicized then, although it certainly existed. Fortunately, The New York Times had reported on the influx of heroin in 1950, so a few short articles from the Times were a major source. Some things I was never able to uncover to my satisfaction, and I just had to guess at. This isn't a well-documented area of history.

PGA: Josephine Flannigan is such a complex, tragic figure. Is she based on or inspired by any literary characters that you've come across in your reading?

SG: No, not really. She was one of those characters that just comes to you fully developed. I just started writing one day, and there the character was.

PGA: Can you talk a little bit about the novel's conclusion? I've always loved books that leave readers reeling, either from surprise or shock or both. The conclusion of Dope was just brilliant -- honestly, one of the most memorable endings I've ever come across. Did you have this exact conclusion in mind as you were writing Dope?

SG: To answer your question: yes and no. One thing that was hard about writing a mystery for me was getting all my facts in order. I can't stand it when I read a mystery and some little aspect of the mystery, some clue or issue of timing, doesn't work out. Getting all the little facts perfectly in order was a hard and sometimes boring job -- so although I had the idea for the ending in place from the very start, the exact circumstances of it had to be changed again and again as more loose ends generated themselves and had to be tied up.

PGA: Booksellers and book reviewers often describe novels by comparing them to other works and/or authors, sometimes with highly unusual amalgams -- he's a blend of Raymond Chandler and Bram Stoker, she's equal parts Stephen King and Sue Grafton, etc. If you had to describe Dope this way, what novels and/or authors would you use? I've heard it called a blend of Patricia Highsmith and William S. Burroughs…

SG: Well, gee, that's a tough one to beat, and I'll gladly take it. Someone -- I think my publisher -- said Chandler and Burroughs, which is equally flattering. You know, it's fun to come up with these things: Muriel Spark meets Rex Stout. The love child of Christiane F. and Dragnet. The unholy bastard offspring of Chinatown and Sunset Boulevard. I could go on forever, although I'm not sure how relevant any of these are.

PGA: Those were great -- and all fitting. Thanks again, Sara, for taking the time to answer these questions for Barnes & -- and, again, congratulations on an amazing novel. I loved it!

SG: Thank you, Paul! If anyone else likes it half as much, I'll be happy.

Customer Reviews

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Dope 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
LoveToReadnWrite More than 1 year ago
I was so impressed with the writing of this. James M. Cain brought back to life in female form. Slick, tight, smart,tough. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters.
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Pretty good an ironic twist nice setup should get .ade into a movie if did *****
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me interested, but I never felt immersed in NYC or the time period that it took place. It's a good quick read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drugs, Sex, and Murder contributes to this great story. Great descriptive imagery and top notch storyline. A superb mystery and also a must read. Two thumbs up. A great representation of irony. An ex-drug addict gets hired to search for a young college girl but an ironic twist turns the story into a must read. I believe it is a great book that every age level will enjoy. As you read you will enjoy each scene, each character's point of view as if it were a five star movie.
jsmrph76 More than 1 year ago
A quick read that held my attention. I like this retro type of book. I don't think it is giving away the ending to say it was not what I expected and not what I would have written. I guess a surprise ending is not a bad thing in most cases. Otherwise the characters were believable and interesting.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book, definitely a must read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Best book I've read in a while. This Novel is one i recommend if you like shockingly twisted stories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this one.This story captured me from page 1. This story is real and alive. I loved the ending- what an unsuspected turn of events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a nice book...if you're on a road trip or taking a transatlantic flight. Despite the raving reviews,it didn't seem a 'page-turner' to me. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book but I was 75% through the book when the first 'totally shocking' twist happened. If you can get it for three bucks like I did, go for it:)
Guest More than 1 year ago
OMG, a great page turner. Read in a couple of days. Total shock at teh end. Just AMAZING!