8. Motherless Brooklyn (1999)
Author: Jonathan Lethem
Areas Featured: Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Cobble Hill
An inventive take on the whodunit made playful with Tourettes-inspired language and loving descriptions of downtown Brooklyn, Motherless Brooklyn earned Jonathan Lethem the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1999.
The action begins when mobster Frank Minna is found murdered. Lionel Essrog, our Tourettes-afflicted narrator who looked up to Minna like a father, sets out to find the culprit. Corporate treachery and big-time crime kingpins join the knotty mess, but Brooklyn is the novel's heart. Lethem grew up in Boerum Hill when it was still North Gowanus, and he loves his old haunts. Make sure that you're in spitting distance of a deli when you crack this open, as Lethem's evocative descriptions will have you craving a roast beef and horseradish sandwich from the corner store badly. —RS