Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan LethemMotherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Narrator: Geoffrey Cantor
Published by HarperAudio on January 21, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery
Length: 10 hrs 9 mins
Pages: 311
Format: Audiobook
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Brooklyn's very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, Lionel Essrog is an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent's Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna's limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal.

But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionel's colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victim's widow skips town. Lionel's world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head.

Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliantly original, captivating homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.

Motherless Brooklyn is at heart a take on the classic detective story, but with an unlikely hero in Lionel Essrog who has Tourette’s syndrome. I listened to the audio on this one and I have to believe that hearing the verbal tics and outbursts worked better than reading them in print would have. Lionel was rescued as a teenager from the orphanage by a small-time crook, Frank Minna, who hired Lionel and three other boys to do odd jobs and staff a questionable car service/detective agency. When Minna is stabbed to death, Lionel decides it’s up to him to find the murderer.

The plot is put together well, with some of the usual suspects – two old time Mafia men, a hired goon, a potentially evil Japanese corporation, and the dead man’s wife, but there are a few interesting twists too. The star, though, is really Lionel. He’s funny, both intentionally and unintentionally, and trying to follow the clues the best he can. He’s someone you just have to root for.

About Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Allen Lethem (/ˈliːθəm/;[1] born February 19, 1964) is an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel that achieved mainstream success. In 2003, he published The Fortress of Solitude, which became a New York Times Best Seller. In 2005, he received a MacArthur Fellowship. Since 2011, he has taught creative writing at Pomona College.

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