Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem

Lionel Essrog is an unforgettable character. Like most fictional detectives he has one defining characteristic, something which sets him apart. Lionel has Tourette's Syndrome. This turns out to be an asset for him when he sets out to find his mentor's killer because everyone assumes he is stupid. What works for him as a detective unfortunately undermines his effectiveness as a protagonist and narrator. The virtuosity demonstrated by Lethem, as he joyfully strings syllables together for Lionel to spurt, becomes a distraction as the story unfolds. Imagine the incessant clickety-clack of Miss Marple's knitting needles in your ears 

or Philip Marlowe blowing smoke rings in your face.


I found myself reading Lionel's utterances out loud to more fully appreciate them. This  made a thin plot thinner. I wish Lethem would resurrect Lionel for a sequel, another story grounded in Brooklyn but without the constraints of the detective genre, because both Lionel and the borough where he lives come vividly to life. I just talked myself into giving this three and a half stars.