Monday, September 22, 2008

The Grift - Debra Ginsberg

Did you notice how the 'r' is slightly dropped in the title?

The definitions that precede the beginning of the novel explain this.

"grift - n. a group of methods used for obtaining money falsely through the use of swindles, frauds, etc."
"gift - n. a special ability or capacity"

Intriguing...and even more so after the prologue. While out on the boardwalk with her junkie mother an old fortune teller identifies a young girl - Marina - as having the 'gift'. Her mother continues to exploit this ideas as Marina is growing up. Fast forward to the present and we find Marina making a living as a psychic, but as a grifter. She is very adept at reading someone's body language and small clues they provide to give them 'psychic' readings.

Marina has to leave Florida quickly and she opens a new shop in California, with a valuable ruby ring from her last client on a chain around her neck. While working at a party as a fortune teller, she meets Madeline - a spoiled rich woman, Cooper a confused gay man in love with Max, an even more confused psychiatrist. These introductions lead to more new clients whose lives are inextricably intertwined with each other's and with Marina's. And the ruby ring seems to be a part of all of it. Through a seemingly inevitable chain of events, Marina predicts a murder, but then becomes the prime suspect. But - she's not faking any longer- her psychic ability is actually real now. She just can't see the murderer's face.

Just released last month, The Grift defies categorizing for me. It's a mystery, it has some 'otherworldly' aspects but is also a love story and just a really good all round read. It doesn't descend into unbelievability despite the psychic theme but rather presents a 'what if' alternative.

Every character was distinctly drawn and came to life for me. Some are flawed, others lovable, some despicable but all come across as real. I found myself reading 'just one more chapter' to find out what would happen next. It's always a treat to find a 'new' ( for me) author like Debra Ginsberg.

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