Dope is a taut mystery set in New York in the 1950s: not the New York of glittering nightclubs and Broadway shows, but the New York of sleazy dance halls and dope dealers. Josephine Flannigan is a recovering junkie living off what she makes by shoplifting when she is offered a cool thousand bucks to find a Barnard college student who has succumbed to heroin addiction just as Josephine once did.
This is one job that Josephine is good at because she knows how a dope addict thinks, where she would go, from whom she would score. Searching for Nadine takes her into the dark places she used to go and tests her sobriety.
Gran excels at painting this seamier side of New York and shows how Josephine’s focus at staying clean parallels her previous focus on scoring a hit. Her world has been reduced to keeping off the drugs, but this job gives her purpose. She offers few excuses for her addiction and refrains from self-pity, so it is all the more heartrending at when she discovers that her good intentions and sobriety have counted for nothing – there can be no redemption. A sobering, in every sense of the word, story.