April 18, 2012 · 9:28 am
Breakdown: A V. I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky (Putnam Adult, $26.95, 448 pages; Brilliance Audio, $36.99, 13 CDs)
Once again this reviewer has been moved to extol the virtues of audio books. Breakdown is the first of Sara Paretsky’s mystery novels that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. No doubt the choice of Susan Ericson as narrator was the key to the richness of the experience. It was almost as though V. I. Warshawski herself came to life and led the circuitous tour of Chicago and its neighboring towns during the hunt for the vampire killer.
Ms. Paretsky is a mystery writer whose works clearly reflect her loyalty to Chicago – Paretsky’s home town. Happily, the main character, V. I. Warshawski, continues to find mysteries to solve that include her group of buddies; family (niece Petra), neighbors (Mr. Contreras, Peppy and Mitch) and dear friends (Lotty and Max). Although the recurring cast of characters is wholesome and comforting, the topic of this mystery is dark and unnerving.
The central figure in the tale is Chaim Salanter, a Jewish man who is one of the world’s wealthiest persons. His past includes a boyhood escape from his homeland, Lithuania, during the Nazi occupation. Salanter is a grandfather with secrets and an ideal target for anyone who wishes to drag his name through the mud. Although this novel reaches into the past, it is firmly grounded in the present thanks to the not-so-charming antics of a group of tweens – including Salanter’s only grandchild – who are fixated on a series of books about vampires. Paretsky also adds into the mix some right-wing politicians and broadcasters who are out to get Salanter and the liberal politician he is backing, which makes this an only-in-Chicago kind of story.
It is worth noting that there is a very large Lithuanian community in Chicago, including the Lithuanian National Cemetery where this reviewer’s maternal grandparents are interred.
This audiobook was purchased by the reviewer’s husband.
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Tagged as A V. I. Warshawski Novel, audiobook, book review, Breakdown, Brilliance Audio, Chicago, fiction, Illinois, Jews, Joseph's Reviews, Kindle Edition, Lithuania, Lithuanian Americans, Lithuanian National Cemetery, mystery, mystery writer, narrator, Nazi occupation, Nook Book, Putnam Adult, recommended books, Ruta Arellano, Susan Ericson, unabridged audiobook, V.I. Warshawski
October 15, 2009 · 6:15 pm
Munchy the cat just finished administering another book giveway and the lucky winner of two books is… (drumroll, crowd tension) Tracey Dent! Tracey has won a brand spanking new trade paperback copy of My Name is Will, a fun and unique comedy novel from Jess Winfield, and also an advance review copy of Hardball, the newest V.I. Warshawski novel – the 13th in fact – from Sarah Paretsky. Tracey, we know you’re a book lover so we’ll be contacting you by e-mail to get your mailing address.
Now Munchy says, “I want to do another contest!” OK, so we’ll post some information on another book giveaway before this weekend is up. Who knows, we may even have two book giveaways since we’ve stored up 6 books in ye olde contest bin.
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Tagged as advance review copy, ARC, book giveaway, books, Chicago, free books, Hardball, Jess Winfield, Munchy the cat, My Name is Will, novels, Santa Cruz, Sarah Paretsky, Tracey Dent, U.C., V.I. Warshawski, William Shakespeare
October 4, 2009 · 7:49 pm
Hardball: A V. I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky (Putnam Adult, $26.95, 464 pages)
Author Sarah Paretsky has set her latest V.I. Warshawski mystery in familiar territory, Chicago. It’s easy to feel the atmosphere of the gritty windy city, both present and past (circa 1967) as the characters move about and around in a complicated story. This book carries the theme of family, warts and all, amid a class war, politics Chicago hardball style, and V.I.’s memories of her father who was a policeman.
The task at hand is finding a long lost son and nephew for two elderly African American ladies, one of whom is on the verge of passing on. To complicate matters, Lamont Gadsen has been missing for forty years in a plot angle that calls to mind the TV show Cold Case. He was known to be present during a 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. rally in Chicago at which a young woman was killed. To aid V.I. in her hunt for the missing man, Paretsky introduces a much younger cousin, Petra, who happens to be in Chicago working on a political campaign.
Cousin Petra gets in way over her head when she attempts to be a junior detective. V.I. does not play favorites when she’s on a case as evidenced by her curt comments to Petra: “You’re not a very convincing liar, Petra. You don’t have the guts to come into a burned-out building on your own. Who was with you?”
Reading this book – the 13th in the Detective Warshawski series – is like catching up with a long-time acquaintance. Not a friend mind you, an acquaintance. V.I. as she prefers – not Vicki or Victoria and only occasionally Vic – is portrayed once again as a brusque, nearly unisex character with conflicted identity issues. Even at the age of 50, she’s far too tough on herself. V.I. does some considerable soul searching while assuming the persona of a champion whose mission it is to right injustice.
The tale gets bogged down a bit with the intricacies of the multiple plot lines. The reader may become a bit confused with the large cast of characters. Yet halfway through the book Paretsky settles into her familiar and enjoyable rhythmic pace permitting V.I. to do what it is she does best – solve the mystery.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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Tagged as a book review by Ruta Arellano: Hardball, A book review site, a novel, A V. I. Warshawski Novel, book review, book review site wordpress, books, Chicago, Cold Case, detective, detective story, Detective Warshawski, Hardball, hardcover, Illinois, Joseph's Reviews, Jr., Kindle Edition, Martin Luther King, mystery, New York Times bestselling author, Nook Book, novel, Putnam, Putnam Adult, recommended books, Ruta Arellano, Sarah Paretsky, series, Signet Select, television show, trade paperback, V.I. Warshawski, Wordpress book review site
October 4, 2009 · 6:53 pm
A review of Hardball by Sarah Paretsky, a V.I. Warshawski mystery.