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Publisher's Summary

Chicago's unique brand of ball is 16-inch slow pitch, played in leagues all over the city for more than a century. But in politics, in business, and in law enforcement, the game is hardball.

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. It does not take long for the high-spirited yet likable Petra to win over V.I.'s affections. When Petra goes missing after a break-in at the office, V.I. is determined to find her beloved cousin.

As the search to locate Petra becomes more desperate, V.I. is also having difficulties tracking down Lamont Gadsden. Unable to catch a break, she learns that a nun who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., has died before she can reveal crucial evidence. V.I. herself almost dies in a blazing fire, and new information has emerged about her father's role in a politically and racially charged trial almost 40 years ago. Afraid to discover that her adored father might have been a bent cop, V.I. takes the investigation all the way to its frightening end.
©2009 Sara Paretsky; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    166
  • 4 Stars
    115
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    21
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    9

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    136
  • 4 Stars
    61
  • 3 Stars
    21
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    11
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    5

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    125
  • 4 Stars
    66
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    5
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  • Overall

Weak Start, Strong End

The first five hours of this audiobook find VI mawkishly wallowing in her memories. It's so boring I almost stopped listening. I'm glad I didn't. The book picks up steam in the sixth hour and Part Two speeds along in a satisfying manner. The ending was so good I even shed a tear, so I'm glad I persisted. But those five hours are just about half the book, and that's why, despite the stellar second part, I gave it three stars.

Perhaps more ardent fans of VI than I, won't find the first part as boring as I did.

The narrator is just OK. She uses the same voices for several characters, making it hard to understand who is saying what. Her voicing of Uncle Peter's temper tantrums grates on the ears.

I don't recommend this as a first read in the VI Warshawsky series.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Babs
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 09-30-09

So-so narrator and one AWFUL new character

I think there are two books here -- the one that includes Vic's obnoxious, terminally perky, lying cousin Petra, whom everyone else adores (shades of All About Eve?) and the blissful portions of the book when Petra has disappeared (we hope never to return). I found the first part of the book so tedious, and then when Petra disappeared and Vic actually got to do some great investigating, I remembered why I love this writer and this series. The narrator only accentuates the novel's flaws -- her Vic is either calm or shrilly furious, with no nuances. Petra is a whiny Valley Girl, her father roars all the time (that may be how the character is written, but it's like being screamed at) and Lottie -- who must be in her 70s or 80s and is European -- sounds as young as Vic with an American accent. Bizarre that the reader is quite good at other accents and characterizations but doesn't bother to bring Lottie to life and makes the main characters maddeningly two-dimensional.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not too exciting.

While I can't say I was really bored listening to this book, I can say that I wasn't overly stimulated either. This is a mystery novel where the detective doesn't really solve mystery but more or less stumbles on the solution. The protagonist, VI Warshawski, isn't particularly likable either, so this wasn't a particularly satisfying listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Love Paretsky - not so much the narrator

It was classic V.I. Warshawsky - not the best but a good read. The narrator was questionable. I had difficulty distinguishing the difference between some characters, many seemed unnecessarily loud and what the heck happened to Lottie's and Max's accents? Weird.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jennifer
  • Santa Cruz, US, Canada
  • 07-18-12

Tremendous characters and performance

Where does Hardball rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is near the top. The quality of the performance and the depth of the characters absorbed me. I tend to listen as I am falling asleep and then have to back track when I wake up, so sometimes, I hear one part many times and never hear some parts. However, in spite of that issue, this was just tremendous. I recommend it for its depiction of Chicago, the South Side of Chicago, VI's mother, the family in general -- all of it. The story seemed a bit of a stretch, and that's my only slight negative.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes, the plot had me listening, but in the end I feel like it was a stretch.

What does Susan Ericksen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The characterizations are intensified when presented in audio form.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Her upset over having her trunk torn through. I could really appreciate her feelings about her Mother and the dress.

Any additional comments?

The depiction of the homeless guy is wonderful also. Read this if you like in-depth characters. I think it helps to have read one or more others of her works.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Loved the story & the narrator enhances the story

I think I've read (listened to) all the VI Warshawski books and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The narrator does a super job of many different voices - and shows that narrating a book isn't just reading the book. Can't wait for the next one in the series (actually, I have already listened to the next one, but had missed this one somehow). So I'm looking forward to the one after that!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

must read

loved it very good well narrated couldn't stop listening, had to hear it again. excellent

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

So Enjoyed Re-Discovering V.I. - Great Listen!!!

It's been a decade or more since I read, let alone listened to, a VI book. What a great enjoyment this was! Excellent narrator - differentiated the various characters & seemed to have a good empathy for the tone & feeling of VI & the "central cast" that surround her. A wonderful way to start off the new year!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Needed more than 1 narrator.

The narration was particularly difficult to listen to while portraying black characters. This narrator is not equipped to portray black characters, her over emphasis comes off mocking & disrespectful.😕

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  • Story

a new fave

this book was terrific and had a great narrator. I would definitely search for more books in this series