Petty hoodlum turned owner of a small time detective agency, Frank Minna assembled a team of four orphans and made them his loyal servants: the Minna Men. When Frank is stabbed to death on what was supposed to be a routine job, Lionel, one of the four, is determined to track down Frank's killer and avenge his death. One thing makes this something of a problem--Lionel has Tourette's syndrome, a collection of tics and compulsions which make him constantly break out in nonsense syllables or cause him to touch every object he sees. His advantage is that most people confuse his disability with stupidity; when he gets up a head of steam, the large slow-moving Lionel is extremely formidable. Taking us from a Zen study centre to a dangerous car park on the New England coast, Motherless Brooklyn
is at the same time a brilliantly characterised detective novel and an inventive exploration of a particular tone of voice.
"Meanwhile, beneath that frozen shell, a sea of language was reaching full boil. It became harder and harder not to notice that when a television pitchman said 'to last the rest of a lifetime' my brain went 'to rest the lust of a loaf tomb' that when I heard 'Alfred Hitchcock', I silently replied 'Altered House clock' or 'Ilford Hotchkiss'."
What might have been exploitative--the portrayal of Lionel and his compulsions--is attractive, affirming and compassionate. The sense of Brooklyn as a city full of borderlines between communities, the legal and the illegal, life and death, is overwhelming. --Roz Kaveney
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'A detective novel of winning humour and exhilarating originality.' -- Sunday Times
'A love song to [Lethem's] native Brooklyn and full of sparkling dialogue and plot twists - a fascinating adventure.' -- Guardian
'Terrific.' -- Time Out