The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem

The Feral Detective

Phoebe Siegler first meets Charles Heist in a shabby trailer in the desert outside of Los Angeles. She's on a quest to find her friend's missing daughter, Arabella, and hears that Heist is preternaturally good at finding people who don't want to be found. A loner who keeps his pet opossum in a desk drawer, Heist has a laconic, enigmatic nature that intrigues the sarcastic and garrulous Phoebe. It takes some convincing, but he agrees to help.The u...

Details The Feral Detective

TitleThe Feral Detective
Release DateNov 6th, 2018
GenreMystery, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Adult

Reviews The Feral Detective

  • Ron Charles
    “The Feral Detective” is a brilliant noir title — right down to its misdirection. Charles Heist, the mysterious man at the center of Jonathan Lethem’s new novel, is a detective of sorts, but he isn’t feral. He’s Clint Eastwood-cool, all self-contained and aloof, capable of silencing a room with a glance. His native wildness hasn’t been domesticated so much as chained. He also keeps a live opossum in his office, but I’m getting ahe...
  • Ellie
    I generally love Jonathan Lethem: Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude are two of my most favorite books. I also really, really liked Dissident Gardens. So I hoped to like this in the same way. Which I didn't. But it may have suffered from the comparison.Phoebe Siegler is a New York City girl who has had it with the life of an editorial assistant/intellectual. She heads west to Los Angeles to locate the disappeared daughter of her bes...
  • Hans
    There was a stretch of time that opening a Jonathan Lethem book was akin to discovering a new room inside my own brain. Perhaps this was in part due to shared geography (Oakland/Berkeley/Bay Area, Brooklyn), though just as much of his approach of bridging genres or layering the fantastical on top of our realities. (My mind is racing through so many of his worlds including the one where the poorest people live in their cars caught in an infinite t...
  • Katherine
    An entertaining read but felt the characters and scenarios felt contrived. When a male author writes in the voice of a female protagonist I try to keep that out of my mind and to not read the book through that lens, to be open to the character's and author's voices. But throughout this book I couldn't help but have that awareness of Phoebe being a woman written by a man. The intermittent insertion of the 2016 election into her internal narrative/...
  • Lemar
    Highest recommendation for this fever dream of a novel. Any purchase or perspective on the sense of unreality felt after the election of 2016, from the shock that millions of American adults were willing to trade the ideals of democracy for putting themselves First requires the deep dive this novel offers. “Television had elected itself, I figured. It could watch itself too, for all I cared. I read my book.” “I didn’t want to have to res...
  • Don Gorman
    (3 1/2). I can't quite put my finger on what really tickled my fancy about this book. Could it be that Phoebe is such a cool, sort of protagonist? Is it that Charles Heist is almost an anti-protagonist, the ultimate mystery man? Is it the setting in a part of the California desert that I am very familiar with? It is the 60's cult thing going on that hits my imagination? is it the anti-Trump fervor that drives Phoebe? Probably some of all of this,...
  • Bill Berger
    What to make of this novel ? I've enjoyed all the previous Lethem books but this one leaves me cold, bored and asking whatever was he thinking. Starting out as a mystery of sorts, it soon regressed into a sort of love story. I finished it but not sure why.
  • Tony
    THE FERAL DETECTIVE. (2018). Jonathan Lethem. ***.Disappointing. I have read most of this author’s earlier works and was eagerly awaiting this book. It turns out that he ended up with a same-old, same-old type of thriller based on the old story line of looking for a missing girl. The narrator was a woman named Phoebe, a friend of the mother of the missing girl. She agrees to do what she can to help find her. She starts out at ground zero with n...
  • Georgette
    Really, really out there. Not quite sure if I absorbed everything. I loved the characters of Phoebe and Heist. Lethem has a gift for creating unique characters.
  • Tonstant Weader
    Even some 20 years after reading “Motherless Brooklyn” I can still remember the enchantment of reading it. Since then I have been a devoted Jonathan Letham reader. Despite being in the midst of a couple other books, I dropped everything to read The Feral Detective. I was more excited than usual because he was returning to the detective genre.When Arabella, the daughter of Phoebe’s best friend, goes missing soon after Leonard Cohen’s death...
  • Peter
    I am trying to be nice, but just didn't like this book. From the political commentary, to the Rabbits and Bears, it seemed more like a child's book, except for the sex, which made the female lead character look like a school girl with a crush. Started like a detective noir, but ended with a thud.
  • Adam
    The Feral Detective is a book that defies description, in many ways. A detective novel? Yes. A romance? Pretty much. A satire for how to live in Trump's America? Sure. An in-depth look at Californian subcultures of mountain and desert people? Why not.Despite being all those things, this novel just really worked for me on almost every level. I devoured it in about three sittings, completely consumed by the characters, the setting, and the narrativ...
  • Jan
    A 30ish New York woman heads to the LA area on the eve of the 2016 inauguration in search of an older friend’s missing daughter. I liked the snarky protagonist and the premise, but the second-half plot developments felt a little too crazy ass for me. Also, Lethem creates an LA rain storm that probably dumped five years worth of rain in a day or two, and it seemed so unrealistic that it took me out of the story.
  • Ned Frederick
    The Feral Detective hums along nicely for the first third on narrator Phoebe's clever commentary and episodic horniness. Heist, the Feral Detective, is one taciturn, looming presence who does none of the heavy lifting required to carry the schizo narrative to its next stop on the crazy town express. This is one wacky book ladies and gentlemen (definitely not for anyone below the age of consent) that seems saddled by its need to be quirky and to s...
  • Jason Phillips
    I've had some great luck with audiobook selections lately, and The Feral Detective is one of the top audiobooks I've listened to in 2018. It's a bizarre tale that takes place mostly in the desert. The narrator takes a moment to get used to, but she's fantastic and matches the tone of the dark tale completely. This is my first Jonathan Lethem book, but I'll no doubt be going back to read/listen to some of his other stuff. The audiobook features a ...
  • Mary
    In a 2016 post - election funk, Phoebe Siegler, quits her job and heads for the Southern California desert in search of her friend’s runaway teenage daughter. Lethem’s exploration of the desert people, populated by the Rabbit and Bear clan is unputdownable. The feral detective, Charles Heist, is a refreshing addition to detective noir.
  • RMazin
    Perhaps it is a good thing to be confused by a book. Did I like it? Maybe. Did I understand it? Maybe. But I can’t stop thinking about it!Phoebe Siegler has left NYC in the days leading up to the last Inauguration. She is on a mission to the Inland Empire of California. Her quest is to locate her friend’s teen-aged daughter, Arabella, who may have embraced an alternative life style. (Maybe propelled by the death of Leonard Cohen?). Lethe weav...
  • Suzanne
    The Feral Detective reminds me of those 1970s films that took place in California, involved strange esoteric groups of people living off the grid with copious drug use, often hallucinatory, that obscured the plot and everyone seemed to be under 30 yrs old. There was always a down and out detective searching for someone, usually a young woman. So, that kind of movie is this book. It is interesting as its own kind of time capsule but it’s often n...
  • Mystery & Thriller
    Jonathan Lethem never fails to surprise, please and astound. His novels straddle genres and create their own, combining elements of mystery, science fiction and what is known as so-called “serious” fiction that challenges, puzzles and makes demands while requiring full attention, regardless of the subject matter. This ranges from the speculative fiction of AS SHE CLIMBED ACROSS THE TABLE, where love meets quantum physics, to his star turn on ...
  • Ronnie
    This is a mostly fun and fast yarn with almost comic book appeal. Heroine Phoebe Siegler is an east coast journalist who drops out in protest at Trump's election and finds herself on the opposite coast seeking a friend's missing daughter in the same span of time as Trump graduates from "Beast Elect" to president. She's smart, quick, and usually horny and comes across as possibly Lethem's wet dream of what a 33-year-old female/girlfriend should be...
  • Larry Davidson
    Very disappointing story. Phoebe Siegler is tasked by her friend Roslyn Swados to track down her daughter Arabella. Arabella has disappeared in Southern California. Phoebe has been referred to Charles Heist, a private investigator who is cut out of the Clint Eastwood mold. Phoebe narrates the story. She is portrayed as a spoiled elitist East Coast woman who hates Trump. We know this as the author makes an estimated 50 negative references to Trump...
  • Marcos
    A wonderful, offbeat potboiler of a novel, the plot centers around Phoebe- a 30 something former editor for "The NY Times" who goes off to Southwestern California to find her friend Roslyn's daughter, Arabella, who vanished after wanting to find herself in Leonard Cohen's skin. Roslyn works for NPR, and Phoebe for "The NY Times"- and both are suffering the traumas of bougie existence, and the fact that Donald Trump has been elected President. Pho...
  • Kelly
    I only read 1/3 of the book. I had to give it up because I disliked the characters so much, and the plot was icky, icky, icky.
  • Drew
    Rounding up.Lethem experiments with some different noir trappings than he did the first time around, to middling efficacy. But honestly, this didn’t feel like the point was the mystery or the noir trappings but instead like it was Lethem trying to grapple with the fever dream of the last two years. I enjoyed the hell out of the middle of the novel and the ending is... intriguing, in the same way the end of Casino Royale (the novel) was intrigui...
  • Joy Ewing
    Really wanted to like this novelI was really looking forward to reading Jonathan Letham’s new novel The Feral Detective. Motherless Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorites. However, while there are multiple instances where the author’s prose does not disappoint, the plot and main character, especially, left me feeling impatient and frustrated. I disliked Phoebe SO much, I wanted her to get lost in the desert never be found.
  • Martha Steele
    This is ultimately about a girl who is lost, and finds herself while trying to find the daughter of a lost friend. It delves into a world of modern day California desert dwellers that are so strange, it makes me suspect they really exist or are based on people who do. Tribes of free spirited, off the grid former hippies somehow have survived in the dunes for years. I found it a bit of a stretch that our hero found the exact right person with insi...
  • Gary
    Jonathan Lethem goes West, with a visit to the wastelands of California that are, in his telling, a haven for disaffected rebels and a destination for those who just want to get off the grid. The narrator is a lusty and unpredictable New Yorker in search of a missing girl. The detective of the title is a specialist in rescuing lost souls from this wilderness and is himself a product of its Mad Max society. It is a good story, and it provides Leth...
  • Billie
    I really liked it, but I don't quite know what to think of it. It's a bit of an old-fashioned detective novel, but told from the POV of the dame who into the P.I.'s office looking for help and insists on inserting herself into the investigation rather than just leaving him to do his job. But it's also an examination? meditation? take-down? of the "us vs. them" mentality of American life post-election. It's kind of messy and occasionally rambling ...
  • Deets999
    Very disappointing! Where to begin with Lethem's latest novel - probably by saying that I overall enjoy his work including his previous effort, The Gambler's Anatomy. So I go into a new story of his wanting to like it. However, there are so many problems with this book it kind of defies logic for such an accomplished author. Let's start with the CLEARLY tacked on campaign of 2016 angle. There is no way this was in the book's original concept. I t...
  • Andrew Boer
    There is a group of gifted authors (Chabon, Lethem, Diaz, Nathan Hill), now middle aged, who mostly came on the scene in the 90’s with kind of a neat trick— as students and devoted fans of genre fiction, they could layer their literary virtuosity inside the familiar tropes and plots. This often had the side benefit of keeping the suspense high and the pages turning. Lethem was my favorite since he was the least self-conscious about it.The Fer...