Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he's fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It's early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he's drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he's offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.
Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a child who looks very much like Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin's high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin - a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives, begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who have been on the run all these years from a drug dealer from whom Anna stole $121,000.
In her most ambitious novel yet, Emily Mandel combines her most fully realized characters with perhaps her most fully developed story that examines the difficulty of being the person you'd like to be, loss, the way a small and innocent action can have disastrous consequences. The Lola Quartet is a work that pays homage to literary noir, is concerned with jazz, Django Reinhardt, economic collapse, love, Florida's exotic wildlife problem, crushing tropical heat, the leavening of the contemporary world, compulsive gambling, and the unreliability of memory.
I suppose the novel will be called a mystery, and it certainly is structured as such. But Mandel's writing includes essences of noir and of the socially conscious novel, and she achieves - through effortless shifts in point of view, and a sparseness that indicates a real sense of sophistication - a highly literary novel. (Reviewed by Morgan Macgregor).
A rewarding read from a talented writer.
The author again melds mystery plotting with literary techniques like shifting points-of-view, resulting in both sophistication and suspense... Mandel's novel excels as a character study that considers the slow degradation of hopes, dreams, and expectations of people who are only in their late 20s but already feel ancient.
Starred Review. Evocative, intriguing, and complex, this novel is as smooth as the underbelly of a deadly, furtive reptile. Mandel's substantial fan base will rejoice; word of mouth will bring new fans on board.
Peter Makin, Brilliant Books
We're huge fans of Emily, who will one day be a household name, and who will win prizes. Big prizes.
Michele Filgate, McNally Jackson
...[T]his is truly her best novel yet... I love how she combines gorgeous prose with an intriguing and captivating plot. Emily St. John Mandel is one of our finest contemporary writers.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Diane S. The Lola Quartet Four friends, and a girl who is the girlfriend of one and the stepsister of the only female, start a jazz quartet in highschool. It is their last concert and their last year in high school and they all have bright plans for the future. I can relate... Read More
Emily St. John Mandel's writing includes essences of old-fashioned noir. But what is noir?
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The label "noir" or "hardboiled" is closely related to the evolution of "pulp-fiction" in America, initially meant to describe a series of stories that would be published in succession by a magazine, or printed in small paperback runs and distributed in weekly...
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