Sara Paretsky defies the old notion that regional detectives don’t travel well outside their home turf ... This is the kind of social consciousness we’ve come to expect from Paretsky, a committed political activist whose conscience informs everything she writes. She’s strong, she’s fierce, and she carries that chip on her shoulder with real pride.
Paretsky's tale of a big-city private investigator who turns a small town inside out put me in mind of Dashiell Hammett's classic Red Harvest. But here's a key difference: Hammett's Continental Op deliberately sets out to tear the burg apart. Warshawski's destabilizing magic is just the byproduct of the convoluted thread she keeps yanking — and of her passion for the underdog ... In contrast to loner private eyes of yore, Warshawski is a thoroughly related person who relies on a network of friends and helpers, and who finds time to care for her animal while saving the world. She balances old-fashioned door-knocking gumshoeing with DNA swabs and paid databases. She's also a person who listens to the voices of the elderly, the mentally ill and the often ignored. There's no sign that she'll run out of work any time soon.
...the ever thorough sleuth mostly keeps her temper as she and Peppy sniff out every clue and run down every lead in this substantial, twisting mystery novel. The author of the much praised series grew up in Kansas, where she obviously noticed the follies of small-town life. Paretsky began writing V.I. Warshawski stories about 30 years ago, and her tales are favorites of esteemed authors in the genre — at least judging by the book jacket. Anyone who likes a good detective story will like this book.
The result is addictive storytelling with Paretsky in fine form. Vic may not know the country, but Paretsky, who grew up near Lawrence, is on home turf. She describes the landscape and its denizens with the same affection and sharp eye with which she depicts Chicago neighborhoods. Paretsky is at the top of her game here, evidenced by the satisfying, layered puzzle peopled by a vividly described and intriguing cast.
Paretsky shows all the skills of a circus juggler as she keeps an ever-expanding number of plot strands in the air, weaving them together to an unexpected conclusion – but the story ebbs and flows to such an extent that at times I found myself having to go back a page or two, checking on who was who. At the heart of it all is Warshawsky, far from home, missing the people and places that keep her grounded. Peppy, it seems, is her only friend and she clings to the dog like a drowning man to a piece of driftwood ... wherever VI Warshawsky may roam, you can be assured of an entertaining read.
A steadily deepening historical nightmare that ends up implicating pretty much everyone in sight in a multilayered coverup. Whodunit purists may be frustrated at the absence of a single villain to blame, but Paretsky’s legion of fans will rejoice in her heroically scaled 20th novel.