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UK-B Format Paperback

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 6, 2007. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

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.


“Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson return from the dead, go on a month-long drinking binge, then hole up in a boardinghouse to write a book together. Six months later, they emerge, stinking of whiskey and tobacco, with a manuscript that would look a lot like Dope. Gran doesn’t just copy this brawny style; she makes it her own. She’s Chandler on steroids . . . the first great noir novel from a woman. The plot unfolds with more betrayals and twists than Thompson ever thought of stuffing into his warped masterpiece, The Killer Inside Me.”—The Associated Press
A thrilling, heartbreaking journey through the heroin underbelly of 1950s New York. I was more than hooked. I was blown away.”
—Richard Rayner, author of The Devil’s Wind
“Gran writes tight, with the muscular, vinegary style of a really good pulp novelist. [A] pitch-black mystery . . . a Weegee photograph in words . . . unsentimental to its clammy core.”—The Washington Post
“Dope just keeps on twisting.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Dark and brooding in the best tradition of noir.”
New York Daily News
“Stark and utterly compelling. Entering the world of Dope . . . is like stepping into a favorite film noir, all black and white and ominous shades of gray . . . unraveling its way to a totally shocking—and perfect—conclusion. Readers will lift their eyes from these black-and-white pages, shocked to find so much color in the world, knowing that they should have seen that ending coming, but they never would have.”—The Times-Picayune
A heck of a book.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Come Closer
“Probably the year’s scariest novel. Come Closer is the kind of novel that demands to be read on a wintry night in front of a log fire. It works insidiously, by undermining your sense of the world as something knowable and secure.”—Time Out
“Amazingly scary . . . A story that will frighten the toughest cynics, make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and even keep you awake at night with fear.”—Coventry Evening Telegraph
“An intelligent horror story, a literary creepshow. It worms its way under your skin and stays there.”
—Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng
Come Closer left me so profoundly disturbed, so terrified and sleepless and unable to shake free of its horrible spell, that I’d feel irresponsible urging it on another living soul if I didn’t crave the company.”
—Kathryn Davis, author of Versailles
“Deeply scary, blurring as it does the bounds between everyday life and the completely unthinkable. Just don’t read it alone in a house with noisy plumbing.”
The Times (London)
“A quick read—but not one that the reader will quickly forget.”—Library Journal
“Takes the reader into some very dark corners of the soul.”—Detroit Free Press
“Seductively menacing, alluringly sinister, Gran’s ominous study of psychological and spiritual suspense heralds a refreshingly sophisticated and literate approach to an often-predictable genre.”—Booklist
“A gripping contemporary tale of terror.”
Publishers Weekly
“[Its] horror emanates from the awfulness of life itself . . . [Delivers] a kick that stays with you for days afterward.”—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“I read Come Closer on the train, in a snowstorm, on a cold December night. It was the right atmosphere for this perfectly noirish tale of madness and love. Author Sara Gran writes with scalpel-like clarity, expertly blending tones to create a new kind of psychological thriller. Days after finishing it, it has not left my mind. I loved this book.”
—George Pelecanos, author of The Night Gardener
The Yellow Wallpaper meets Rosemary’s Baby in a slim, wonderfully eerie novel.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The scariest book I’ve read in years, a classic slow-burner (or chiller) . . . a short, stylish book you’ll sprint through in a couple of hours. But the effects may linger longer. Debate whether or not you want to put your sleep at risk. Keep the holy water handy.”
Literary Review (London)
Come Closer ought to carry a warning to readers. It’s impossible to begin this intense, clever, beautifully written novel without turning every page.”
—Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona
“I picked it up at 7P.M. By 7:10 I was locked into the cold isolation chamber of Gran’s prose. It was too late to get out.”—The Daily Telegraph (London)
“Hypnotic, disturbing . . . What begins as a sly fable about frustrated desire evolves into a genuinely scary novel about possession and insanity. Written with such unerring confidence you believe every word. Come Closer is one of the most precise and graceful pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long time.”
—Bret Easton Ellis, author of Lunar Park
“A sly, satisfying (fast!) novel of one young woman possessed not only by a demon but also by her own secret desires.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of Wish You Were Here
Come Closer is sharp and strange and, best of all, at the moment of truth it doesn’t flinch from its own mad logic.”
—Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land
“Like Patricia Highsmith, Sara Gran has a knack for exposing the terror that lurks beneath our everyday lives.”
—Jason Starr, author of Tough Luck
“A terrifying psychological journey.”
Daily Mail (London)

Titles by Sara Gran



Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsiblity for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2006 by Sara Gran.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
eISBN : 978-1-440-68476-0
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
1. Young women—Fiction. 2. Drug addicts—Fiction. 3. Missing persons—Fiction. 4. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. 5. College students—Fiction. I. Title.

Chapter One
Maude said my name flatly, like I was dead or she wanted me to be. I sat across from her at a booth in the back of the bar, where the daylight never reached and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes never cleared. Maude had been the mistress of a gangster back in the thirties and he’d bought her this bar to set her up with something after he was gone. It was on the corner of Broadway and West Fourth, and if you’d never been there before it would take a minute to notice that there wasn’t a girl in the place, other than Maude. And now me. It was a queer joint. She let the boys hang out here because it was good business—it’s not like they had too many other places to go—and of course there was an even better business in keeping their secrets.
“Hiya Maude.” She looked at me as if I were speaking another language. Pink lipstick was smeared on her lips, and she was squeezed into a gold strapless dress two sizes too small. Her hair was done up in a big blond pouf on top of her head.
I reached into my purse and pulled out a gold ring with a small diamond in a plain setting. An engagement ring. It was good. I’d boosted it from Tiffany’s the day before.
I handed the ring to Maude. She grabbed it with her fat white hand, and then got out a magnifying glass from her pocketbook and looked the ring over, holding it up so it caught the yellow light coming from the bulb on the wall. She took her time. I didn’t mind. Someone put a song on the jukebox. A few men started to dance with each other, but the bartender yelled at them to stop. They gave it up and went back to their seats. If the cops came in and saw dancing, everyone in the place would be locked up.
Maude looked the ring over a few more times and then looked up at me and said, “Fifty.”
“I could do better in a pawnshop,” I said. I couldn’t hit Tiffany’s every day and I wanted a good price. I wanted this ring to feed me for a month.
“Then do it,” she said.
I held out my hand for the ring. She tapped it on the table, looking at me. We went through this every time.
“One hundred,” she said.
I kept my hand where it was. She looked at the ring and fondled it a little. Black makeup spread out around her eyes when she blinked.
“One fifty,” she finally said.
I nodded. She reached into her little gold pocketbook and counted out seven twenties and a ten and rolled them up tight. She handed the money to me under the table. I counted it and then put the roll in my purse.
“Thanks, Maude,” I said.
She didn’t say anything. I stood up to go, and then she said, “Hey. If you see Shelley, you can tell her not to show her face around here no more.”
I looked at her and sat back down. “What’s the problem?”
“I ain’t got a problem,” Maude said. “Not with you. But Shelley, she brought me a bracelet, swore up and down it had a real emerald in it. Later I found out it was paste. She ain’t welcome here no more.”
“She must have thought—”
“I don’t care what she thought,” Maude said. “It was paste. I don’t care if the King of Siam gave it to her. If you see her, tell her I don’t want to see her again.”
I sighed. “All right,” I said. “If I pay it off, you’ll help her out the next time she’s in a jam?”
Maude nodded. “I don’t hold grudges, Josephine. You know that.”
“Okay,” I said, feeling heavy. “What’d she burn you for?”
“Two hundred,” Maude said.
“You never gave anyone two hundred dollars in your life,” I said. “Not even if it was the King of Siam.” We haggled all over again for a while. Finally we agreed that one twenty-five would cover it, and I handed back over most of the money she’d just given me. I stood up and left. Ordinarily I would have stayed and played a bit of pool—some of the queers were good, and I liked to stay in practice—but I had an appointment downtown.

Chapter Two
The bright sun outside was a shock after Maude’s. It was one o’clock in the afternoon on May 14, 1950, in New York City. On Broadway I hailed a taxi to take me down to Fulton Street, and then I walked a few blocks until I found number 28. It was quite a place, a tall narrow building that looked like someone had poured it in between the two buildings on either side. The whole front of it was white stone carved up with clouds and faces and stars, and it came to a point at the top like a church. A doorman in a sharp blue uniform with gold braid opened the door for me with a big smile. Inside there were marble floors with clean red rugs and streams of people coming in and out, busy people in suits with briefcases and very important places to go. In the middle of the lobby was a big marble counter where a good-looking fellow in the same uniform sat guiding everyone on their busy way. But I already knew where I was going.
An elevator man in another blue suit and another big smile brought me up to five. On the fifth floor there were four mahogany doors set into mahogany paneling, each with a shiny brass doorknob and a frosted window with the name of the company painted in gold and outlined in black. Painted on the first door was Jackson, Smith and Alexander, Attorneys-at-Law. The next was Beauclair, Johnson, White and Collins, Attorneys. The third was Piedmont, Taskman, Thompson, Burroughs, Black and Jackson, Law Office.
The last door had nothing on it. That was the one I was looking for.
It was open. Inside was a waiting room with a pretty brunette girl in a white suit and black-rimmed eyeglasses sitting behind a desk. There was a beautiful red Persian rug on the floor and two ugly oil paintings of landscapes on the walls. Three oversized leather armchairs were set around a low wood table that had copies of Forbes magazine fanned out on it.
The girl smiled at me. I didn’t smile back. I was tired of smiling.
“I’m here to see Mr. Nathaniel Nelson,” I said. “We have an appointment. Josephine Flannigan.”
“Certainly, Miss Flannigan.”
She hopped up out of her chair and led me through a door behind her. On the other side was a corner office room about five times the size of the room I lived in. Here was an even bigger desk and a lot more leather furniture and a man and a woman. The man sat behind the desk. He was about forty-five, with silver hair and big brown eyes, and wore a dark gray suit that looked like it had been custom made for him. He looked tired, but had a strong jaw and a square face that looked like it wouldn’t take no for an answer, like he had been the boss for so long he forgot he wasn’t really the boss of anything at all.
I took a deep breath, and inhaled the smell of money.
The woman sat to the left of the desk. She was about forty and didn’t look like much at all. She was pretty enough, if you didn’t like personality in your women. She had blond hair pulled back from her face in a plain, perfect chignon. She wore a black suit that showed nothing and didn’t seem to be hiding much of anything at all, and too much makeup over a face that looked just this side of being alive.
“Mr. Nelson,” I said. “How do you do. I’m Josephine Flannigan.”
He stood up, leaned across the table, and shook my hand. He was taller than I thought he’d be, taller and wider. “How do you do, Miss Flannigan. This is my wife, Maybelline Nelson.”
She stood up and I took her hand. It was limp.
The girl left and closed the door behind her and we all sat down. I took off my gloves and put them across my lap. Mrs. Nelson rested her eyes on something ten feet past me and over my left shoulder. Mr. Nelson looked at me and opened his mouth but I spoke first. I knew his type. If I let him take hold of the conversation, I’d never get it back.
“So, Mr. Nelson, who was it that gave you my phone number?”
“Nick Paganas,” he said. I looked blank so he added: “I think you know him as Nick the Greek.”
I smiled. I knew at least a dozen guys who went by Nick the Greek, but it wouldn’t do any good to let him know that. “Sure, Nick,” I said. “How do you know him?”
He looked down at the table and frowned. Then I knew how he knew Nick the Greek. But he told me anyway: “Mr. Paganas—he took me for quite a bit of money, Miss Flannigan.”
“Stocks?” I guessed.
Mr. Nelson shook his head. “Real estate. He sold me fifty acres of land in Florida. Eventually I realized I had bought a nice chunk of the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Sure,” I said. I tried not to smile. “He’s a professional, Mr. Nelson. He’s fooled a lot of men of very high stature—you’d be surprised if I told you who.” I didn’t know who, exactly, we were talking about, but it was probably true. “What I mean is, you’re in very good company.”
Mrs. Nelson kept her eyes straight ahead, on whatever ghost she was staring at.
“Thank you, Miss Flannigan. That’s a kind thing to say. Anyway, fortunately I realized this before Mr. Paganas left town, so I was able to recoup my losses. And something else. I told Mr. Paganas that I wouldn’t report him to the police on one condition. If he would help me find my daughter.”
“And he recommended me?”
“Yes. He recommended you,” Mr. Nelson answered. “He said you no longer used drugs, that you were honest, that we could trust you. He said you knew—well, you knew the type of places where she might be. You see . . .” He paused and looked at his wife. She pulled her eyes out of the void and looked back at him. He turned to me again. “My daughter is on drugs, Miss Flannigan. My daughter is a . . . a dope fiend.
I held back a laugh. I read the papers: every square in America these days thought their kid was a dope fiend. Mostly from what I gathered their kids smoked a little tea and cut school once in a while. And the paperback novels were full of them—kids who started off popping a benny and ended up on heroin, murdering a dozen of their neighbors with their bare hands. Kids from nice families who got lured in by evil pushers. On the book covers, the pushers always had mustaches.
I had never met an addict who came from a nice home. I’d met addicts who came from families that had money and nice houses. But never from a nice home. And I’d never met a dealer who had a mustache.
“Tell me about your daughter,” I said.
He sighed. “Nadine. About a year ago—”
“How old is she now?” I asked.
“Nineteen,” the mother cut in. She said it slowly, like it had only just occurred to her what was going on here.
“Yes, nineteen,” Mr. Nelson continued. “About a year ago—”
“It started before that,” Mrs. Nelson interrupted. She looked directly at me for the first time. “She started going into the city on the weekends with her friends.”
“Where do you live?” I asked.
She continued: “She started going into the city with her girlfriends every weekend. Didn’t want to go to the club, didn’t want to see her old friends anymore. Nothing so wrong with that. She was in her last year of high school.”
Mr. Nelson picked up the story. “Except she started coming home—well, we thought she was drunk.”
“Now, of course,” Mrs. Nelson said, “we’re not so sure.”
“She started coming home later and later. Drunk or whatever she was.”
“It seemed normal,” Mrs. Nelson pointed out. “She was a young girl and she wanted to have fun. She wanted to spend some time in the city.”
“She wanted to go to Barnard,” Mr. Nelson said. “So she went to Barnard. We thought . . . You can imagine. We thought she’d get it out of her system after a few years of living in the city. Sow her wild oats and then get married or even start a career, whatever would make her happy.”
“She always loved to draw,” Mrs. Nelson said. “I thought she might like to work in fashion or advertising or something like that. It might be fun for her.”
“But that didn’t happen?” I asked.
“No,” Mr. Nelson answered. “No. Instead we got complaints from the dorm mother, then from the dean. Nadine was coming home late, staying out, failing her classes.”
“Even art,” Mrs. Nelson pointed out.
“Even art,” Mr. Nelson agreed. “And she was avoiding us. We hardly ever saw her anymore. Finally one night it all exploded. The dorm mother found something in her room—a kit for injecting drugs.”
Shooting up,” Mrs. Nelson clarified. I nodded solemnly.
“We wanted to take her to the doctor,” Mr. Nelson continued. “But she refused. It turns out there wasn’t anything the doctor could do for her anyway. . . . Well, I’m sure you know about that.”
I nodded again.
“She promised to stop on her own,” Mr. Nelson said. “But she didn’t. She couldn’t. This went on for months. Finally, they had to expel her from school.”
“That was when she left,” Mrs. Nelson cut in. “The day she had to leave the dorm. We went to go pick her up—”
“She was going to come home with us.”
“But she wasn’t there. She had left the night before. Just left, in the middle of the night.”
“We haven’t heard from her since.”
“How long ago was that?” I asked.
“Three months ago,” Mrs. Nelson answered.
“And you’re just starting to look now?”
They looked at each other, annoyed. “We’ve been looking,” Mrs. Nelson said. “First we called the police—”
“They didn’t care. They said they would look into it.”
“We never heard from them again,” Mrs. Nelson continued. “That was the New York City police. Of course everyone in Westchester was very concerned, but there was nothing they could do. We tried looking around on our own, talking to her friends at school, trying to find out where—where people like that would be. But we got nowhere.
“So we hired a private investigator.” Mrs. Nelson reached into her purse and pulled out a photograph. “He found out she was living with this man, Jerry McFall, in some little dump down on Eleventh Street. But by the time he told us about it, they were gone. He couldn’t find them again.”
She handed me the photo. A man and a girl were standing on Eleventh Street, near First Avenue. It was a sunny day. The girl was looking down at the ground. She had light hair and light eyes and small symmetrical features that didn’t draw any attention. She was pretty, but only if you took the time to look. And there was nothing there to grab you and make you do that. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore a tight black sweater with a black skirt and white high-heeled shoes. She looked like a cross between a college girl and a whore. And she didn’t look happy.

On Sale
Feb 6, 2007
Page Count
256 pages