When V. I. Warshawski is asked to find a man who’s been missing for decades, a search she thought would be futile turns lethal. Old skeletons from the city’s racially charged history rise up to force her back – a nun who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. dies without revealing crucial evidence, and the elderly sisters who hired her are also keeping important information to themselves. Then V.I. finds that her family is keeping secrets of its own. Afraid to learn that her adored father might have been a bent cop, deception and corruption following her at every step, V.I. finds all her certainties under threat, but takes the investigation all the way to its frightening end.
©2009 Sara Paretsky (P)2010 Isis Publishing
I thoroughly enjoyed Paretsky's novel, which forces V.I. back unwillingly to investigate a crime which happened in the 60s and may have involved her father. Unlike most detectives, Vic has a well-established social network and strong relationships which enrich the story considerably. Apart from the cleverly plotted story, Paretsky always intrigues me by bringing the city of Chicago itself to life.
Paretsky's novels are always very satisfying, as she chooses different social/political issues to investigate in each novel. In 'Hardball', police corruption in the 60s is the focus, and so Vic's life is under constant threat to the point where she finds it difficult to determine who she can trust. Maybe that sounds a bit cliched, but the strong characterisation and competing loyalties of many of the characters certainly held my interest.
I really enjoyed Liza Ross's ability to recreate characters with distinctive voices, particularly any scene with Vic's excitable, breathy niece Petra who is a nice foil for Vic's witty and sarcastic voice. By the end, there's a lot going on, but Ross is able to build to a riveting climax and also establish some thoughtful and rather poignant touches as she exposes many dark family secrets and decades-old injustices.
I found myself looking forward to my daily commute, knowing that I would be able to reconnect with V.I. in her often dangerous pursuit of truth.
Reading V.I. Warshawski novel is like catching up with a much-loved old friend -- so many of the characters reappear and are brought in to each story in different capacities. I was pleased to see that Vic has entered the computer age with a vengeance, yet still ultimately exercised her native intelligence and superior skills of detection.
Once again Paretsky takes detective heroine V I Warshawski through the mill leading to a startling denouement. High quality stuff.
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