“Visitation Street is urban opera writ large. Gritty and magical, filled with mystery, poetry and pain, Ivy Pochoda’s voice recalls Richard Price, Junot Diaz, and even Alice Sebold, yet it’s indelibly her own.” – Dennis Lehane
This quote on the back of the book drew me straight in to this book and I was not disappointed. This is a brilliantly written mystery set in and around the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Red Hook. Two girls take a raft out one summer evening but only one returns. What happened? The events will echo through the tightly divided neighbourhood.
We follow the surviving girl Valerie as she tries to cope with what has happened to her best friend June. We follow Cree, a young African-American man from the projects who was the last to see the girls together. We follow Jonathan, the local music teacher who found Valerie but also has his own demons to contend with. And we follow Fadi who owns the local bodega which, through a lot of his own hard work, is the hub of the Red Hook community. And through these characters we meet the mysterious Ren who has his own secrets to keep and tell.
This is what good crime fiction is all about. The story, the people, the place is all real and living on the page. There are no quirky cops, in fact there are barely any cops at all. There is no vicious or deranged killer. There are no plot twists. It is just life where people are trying to survive; with each other, with the world, with their past. There are only a handful of writers who can write crime like this; George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon and Laura Lippman. Ivy Pochoda joins them and I can’t wait to read more from her.