In this gripping adventure - the first V.I. Warshawski mystery - America’s top private eye is tossed into a dangerous adventure when a seemingly straightforward assignment becomes complicated and deadly. Hired by a man who calls himself John Thayer, V.I.’s assignment is to find Thayer’s son Peter’s missing girlfriend. But when V.I. finds young Peter’s dead body instead, her client disappears.
"Back to the Beginning"
No one would accuse V. I. Warshawski of backing down from a fight, but there are a few she'd be happy to avoid. High on that list is tangling with Chicago political bosses. Yet that's precisely what she ends up doing when she responds to Frank Guzzo's plea for help.
"The narrator of this story was very grating and I believe made the novel even choppier. Not a narrator I could listen to againn"
When V. I. Warshawski is asked to find Lamont Gadsden, a man who's been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile turns lethal. Old skeletons from the city's racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets - her own and those of the elderly sisters who hired her - rise up to brush her back from the plate with a vengeance. To complicate matters, Petra, a young cousin whom V.I. has never met, arrives from Kansas City to work on a political campaign.
"Weak Start, Strong End"
V.I. has been visiting Club Gouge, Chicago’s edgiest nightspot, where a woman known as the Body Artist turns her naked body into a canvas for the audience to paint on. The show attracts all kinds of people, from a menacing off-duty cop to Ukrainian mobsters and Iraq war vets - and V.I.’s impetuous cousin, Petra. A tormented young painter shows up, too, and the intricate designs she creates on the Body Artist drive one of the vets into a violent rage.
"VI Grows Up"
Racine Avenue is going upscale — bad news for hand-to-mouth residents like V. I. Warshawski. As tax bills skyrocket, newcomers pressure old inhabitants into fixing up their homes or moving out. To the yuppies on the block the worst eyesore belongs to old Hattie Frizell, whose yard is “returning to native prairie, complete with hubcaps.” Their block club wants her and her five dogs gone.V. I. and Hattie have a relationship of sorts: one of those five dogs gave V. I.’s dog Peppy an unwelcome litter.
"Lots of suspense"
Stubbornness has landed private eye V.I. Warshawski in big trouble at her Chicago office. With her grand old Loop building set to be razed, she's become a hold-out tenant amid frayed wiring and scary, empty corridors. Then she finds a homeless woman with three kids in the basement, and before she can rescue them, they disappear. Worst of all, she's been implicated in a murder after the body of Deirdre Messenger, a prominent lawyer's wife, turns up sprawled across her desk.
"What a Shame"
Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski knows from the start that Consuelo Alvarado's baby is trouble. Consuelo is 16. Diabetic. And the daughter of a friend. When she goes into labor too early, even V. I.'s wild drive to get her to the hospital can't save either Consuelo or her child.
V. I. Warshawski’s closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder. When Kitty’s daughter finds her life is in danger, she calls Lotty, who in turn summons V. I. to help. The daughter’s troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the mad competition among America, Germany, Japan, and England to develop the first atomic bomb.
"Shrillness...not for the faint of heat"
Deadlock, V. I. Warshawski’s second case, involves the huge Great Lakes shipping industry. Once again the subject is murder - this time the “accidental death” of Boom-Boom Warshawski, an ex-hockey star and V. I.’s beloved cousin, who fell - or was pushed - off a rain-slicked pier on Chicago’s busy waterfront. Convinced that Boom-Boom was in fact killed because of information he had uncovered about criminal doings on the shipping lines, V. I. begins a long and frustrating search for her cousin’s murderer.
V. I. Warshawski's impossible goddaughter, Bernie, convinces her to look for August, a young filmmaker who has disappeared. The evidence indicates that he has gone to Kansas in the company of Emerald, an older black movie actress who wants to film the story of her life. Her search takes V. I. from the military base Emerald was born on to the farm where she grew up outside a university town, ploughing up past and present-day secrets as she goes.
Elena, V.I. Warshawski’s derelict aunt, reenters her niece’s life at three in the morning. Burned out of her SRO hotel, Elena has turned to V.I. for a place to stay. V.I. vows that it will be a short visit and uses some old political contacts to find Elena a room. When V.I. is hired to investigate the fire at the hotel, her aunt disappears, and her aunt’s young friend is found dead at a construction site. V.I. is warned off the case by both a high-ranking police officer and a major Chicago developer - who also happens to be a close friend of the chairman of the Cook County Board.
Killing Orders, V.I. Warshawski’s third adventure, starts when her great-aunt Rosa summons the detective to her cold suburban home. Rosa made V.I.’s childhood miserable and the detective resents the command to help her aunt prove she didn't embezzle five million dollars from a local Dominican priory.
V.I. Warshawski isn't crazy about going back to her old south Chicago neighborhood, but a promise is something she always keeps. Caroline, a childhood friend, has a dying mother and a problem - after 25 years she wants V.I. to find the father she never knew. But when V.I. starts probing into the past, she not only finds out where all the bodies are buried - she stumbles onto a very new corpse. Now she's stirring up a deadly mix of big business and chemical corruption that may become a toxic shock....
"What I like about Paretsky is at its best"
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.
"Overwrought and Underwhelming: Too Bad"
Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago’s Carmilla Club hold an initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetery, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying. The girls include daughters of some of Chicago’s most powerful families.
"Another interesting story from Paretsky"
What secrets hide behind the razzle-dazzle of the entertainment industry? V.I. Warshawski is about to find out. Her friend, reporter Murray Ryerson, has just landed a plum job as host of a Global Entertainment network television show. On her way home from the party celebrating the event, V.I. stops to help a woman lying in the street. Her Good Samaritan act exposes dark truths, and suddenly V.I. finds herself playing a game she can only win by staying alive.
"Excellence Marred By Poor Technology"
Don't toss out the cake and candles just yet. Philip Roth, who, among other notable achievements, changed the way Americans laugh about masturbation, celebrates his birthday on March 19th. Check out: I Married a Communist and Operation Shylock.
"Audio quality a let-down"
V. I. Warshawski may have left her old South Chicago neighborhood, but she learns that she cannot escape it. When V. I. takes over coaching duties of the girls' basketball team at her former high school, she faces an ill-equipped, ragtag group of gangbangers, fundamentalists, and teenage moms, who inevitably draw the detective into their family woes.
"Fire Sale Review"
In Total Recall, Sara Paretsky brings together several disparate plots in one gripping story. This powerfully suspenseful novel confronts the machinations of a vast and corrupt industry that trades on the victims of Nazi terrorism; the strange and dubious phenomenon of "recovered memory;" and a personal story that brings V. I. Warshawski into the long-buried past of her dearest friend and mentor, Dr. Lotty Herschel.
"My favorite Sara Paretsky"
V.I. has been visiting Club Gouge, Chicago’s edgiest nightspot, where a woman known as the Body Artist turns her naked body into a canvas for the audience to paint on. The show attracts all kinds of people, from a menacing off-duty cop to Ukrainian mobsters and Iraq war vets - and V.I.’s impetuous cousin, Petra. A tormented young painter shows up, too, and the intricate designs she creates on the Body Artist drive one of the vets into a violent rage. But the vet’s family hires V.I. to clear his name....