This is a story of secrets and betrayals that stretch across four generations - secrets political, social, sexual, financial: all of them with the power to kill. Eager for something physical to do in the spirit-exhausting wake of 9/11, V.I. accepts a request from an old client to check up on an empty family mansion; subsequently surprises an intruder in the dark; and, giving chase, topples into a pond. Grasping for something to hold on to, her fingers close around a lifeless human hand.
It is the body of a reporter who had been investigating events of 45 years earlier, during the McCarthy era, and V. I.'s discovery quickly sucks her into the history of two great Chicago families - their fortunes intertwined by blood, sex, money, and the scandals that may or may not have resulted in murder all these years later. At the same time, she inadvertently becomes involved in the story of a missing Egyptian boy whose possible terrorist connections make him very much sought after by the government. As the two cases drive her forward - and then shockingly tumble together, pushing her into situations more perilous than she could have imagined - she finds that wealth and privilege, too, bear a terrible price; and the past has no monopoly on patriotic scoundrels. Before everything is over, at least two more people will lie dead...and V.I. might even be one of them.
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©2004 Sara Paretsky; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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Economize the story. Felt like ten pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag.
No wonder was V.I. so exhausted and exhausting in chronicling the roman a clef historical overlay with this narrative of class struggles, confused family org charts and dubious foul deeds. The material from which it was drawn held some interest, but the shuffling of characters resembled more of a game of three-card-monte than a well plotted journey. While I understand the device of the teen Egyptian refugee's dilemma, I wanted to slap Benjy's characterization bow-legged. What an annoying little twerp.
Hers was a Herculean task to help match the characters voice and personality and emotions with the need to shepherd the reader through the dramatis personae. I think she was able to the task as challenging as it was.
I stuck with it as I've read a good many of Paretsky's works (including listening to other audiobooks) and while there were many points I say "this is a hot mess". I was looking for redemption by the book's end. Not terribly satisfying, but did appreciate Sara's earnest effort and cloaked "then and now" comparisons with the HUAC cum Patriot Act's darker underpinnings. She made her points.
I hope V.I. was to sleep this one off as it was a dozer for the listener/reader.
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Deeply researched and rich in numerour characters, Blacklist earned the rewards it garnished. I've read five books in this series. (None in order.) This one simply has a greater depth as Paretsky explores the abuses of the Patriot Act against McCarthy era hearings. As usual, Chicago is a character study itself.
Here's an audiobook that really needs to be abridged to separate the story from hours of superfluous blather about the "McCarthy Era." I appreciated the occasional jab at the stupidity of the Patriot Act, but hours spent reliving the (fictitious in the audiobook) trials of the House Unamerican Activities Committee -- boooring, and not much to do with the underlying (and I do mean underlying) story. The story itself is OK (not great) but it's so broken up by McCarthy-stuff, and there are so many characters/names, that you lose track of who's doing what to whom -- to the point you don't really care. Save your money -- Audible has lots of better audiobooks to choose from.
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