Bitter Medicine (V. I. Warshawski Series #4)

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Overview

Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski knows from the start that Consuelo Alvarado's baby is trouble. Consuelo is sixteen. 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. Soon V.I. is investigating possible malpractice at the emergency room—and falling for a doctor who works there. Mixing business and love is always bad medicine, but V.I. finds herself listening to her heart, not her head. And when ...
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Overview

Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski knows from the start that Consuelo Alvarado's baby is trouble. Consuelo is sixteen. 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. Soon V.I. is investigating possible malpractice at the emergency room—and falling for a doctor who works there. Mixing business and love is always bad medicine, but V.I. finds herself listening to her heart, not her head. And when a brutal murder and the violent destruction of a women's clinic put her at the center of a very dirty conspiracy, justice may be the only remedy for a hurt that cuts deep...and chills right to the bone....
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Since her debut in Paretsky's Indemnity Only, Chicago private eye V. (Victoria) I. Warshawski has been attracting both enthusiastic readers and critical acclaim. This fourth story narrated by the spiky detective is the series' most suspenseful so far. V. I. brings a teenager about to give premature birth to a private hospital where the mother and her baby die. Since the poor girl's own obstetrician is unavailable, Warshawski's friend, Dr. Tregiere, arrives from his inner-city hospital to check procedures; he's found murdered later. So is the supposedly bereaved husband, member of a street gang that atacks Warshawski during her tenacious investigation of the related cases. There are other appalling deaths as tough V. I. gets to the facts behind a tawdry coverup. The cast of the earlier mysteries again adds flavor here, and the big city's ethnic mix, as enlived by Paretsky, does too. (May 15)
Kay Black
V. I. Warshawski is a female version of the hard-boiled private eye. Victoria doesn’t show emotion or fear — at least on the outside. This new case has struck a little too close to home for her tastes....The characters are engrossing; the plot is convoluted but convincing; and the ending is justified. It is all a matter of whether the reader can become a follower of V. I. Warshawski.
The Mystery Reader Online
From the Publisher
"No one, male or female, writes better P.I. books than Paretsky."
—The Denver Post

"Paretsky's books are beautifully paced and plotted, and the dialogue is fresh and smart.... V.I. Warshawski is the most engaging woman in detective fiction."
Newsweek

"The plot [is] fast moving, the dialogue snappy, the premise for murder persuasive.  This novel hasn't a single snag in its springs."
Chicago Sun-Times

"Paretsky is still the best...she doesn't pull punches."  
—The Washington Post Book World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440234760
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Series: V. I. Warshawski Series, #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara  Paretsky
Sara Paretsky is the author of fourteen previous books, including twelve V. I. Warshawski novels. She is the winner of many awards, including the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers’ Association. She lives in Chicago.

Biography

Sara Paretsky grew up in eastern Kansas, where she attended a small country school. The publishing bug bit Paretsky early—at age 11, her first published story appeared in the magazine The American Girl. It was about children surviving a Kansas tornado. She attended the University of Kansas for her undergraduate degree, but after spending a summer in Chicago doing community service work, she fell in love with the Windy City and decided after college to make the move permanent.

Paretsky eventually earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago but had a hard time finding a job as an academic, so she returned to school for an M.B.A., after which she started working full-time in marketing. (In order to complete her first three novels, she juggled family and job with writing at night.) An avid reader, Paretsky has always been a fan of detective fiction, but noticed a lack of intelligent, likable female protagonists in the genre. Thus, with the inspiring city of Chicago as the background, her signature character, V. I. Warshawski, was born.

Readers and critics have responded with appreciation for Paretsky's confident, modern, noir female detective. Unlike other noir heroines, V. I. refuses to be categorized by her sexuality. Despite the patriarchy she confronts on every case, she's a single woman in total control. Paretsky says of V. I., " I started aging V. I. because although she is a fictional character, she is grounded in historical events: she came of age during the Civil Rights movement and the anti-War movement. Her mother was a refugee from Fascist Italy. And her cases are all based on real events. Who she is depends on her being born in the Fifties. Now, of course, I have this dilemma of how to let her get older while still continuing to be an effective detective. I haven't quite figured that out yet."

Beyond her successful series, Paretsy has proven her range of talent with short stories (1995's Windy City Blues) and a handful of stand-alones (Ghost Country, Bleeding Kansas). She has also edited anthologies of mysteries and crime fiction by famous and less well-known female writers.

Generous with all she has learned throughout the years, Paretsky is a co-founder of Sisters in Crime, an organization dedicated since 1986 to bringing the female voice in detective fiction to the attention of booksellers and libraries. Sisters in Crime is a business resource for women on how to prepare a press kit, arrange a signing at a local bookstore, or search for an agent—as well as a treasure chest of new writers on the scene. Check out all they have to offer at www.sistersincrime.org.

Good To Know

Paretsky worked for ten years as a marketing manager at an insurance company and draws on the experience when writing about white-collar crimes for the V. I. Warshawski series.

Comparing herself to V. I. Warshawski, Paretsky says that they both love dogs, enjoy good food and good Scotch, and are both diehard Cubs fans.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sara N. Paretsky
    2. Hometown:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 8, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Ames, Iowa
    1. Education:
      B.A., Political Science, University of Kansas; Ph.D. and M.B.A., University of Chicago
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt


Carol Alvarado responded with the unnatural calm crisis produces in some people. Lotty was in surgery at Beth Israel; Carol would call the obstetrics department there and find out what hospital I should take her sister to. She knew where I was--she had been there several times visiting Hector. She put me on hold.

I stood, the phone damp in my hand, my armpits wet, legs trembling, fighting back the impulse to scream with impatience. My flabby-chinned companion watched me covertly while shuffling her paper. I took diaphragm breaths to steady myself and concentrated on a mental run-through of "Un bel dì." By the time Carol returned to the line I was breathing more or less normally and could focus on what she was saying.

"There's a hospital somewhere close to you called Friendship Five. Dr. Hatcher at Beth Israel said it's supposed to have a Level Three neonatal center. Get her there. We're sending out Malcolm Tregiere to help. I'll try to get Mama, try to close the clinic and get out as soon as I can."

Malcolm Tregiere was Lotty's associate. Last year Lotty had reluctantly agreed to resume part time the perinatal practice at Beth Israel that had made her famous. If you're going in for obstetrics, even half time, someone has to cover for you. For the first time since opening the clinic, Lotty had taken on an associate. Malcolm Tregiere, board-certified in obstetrics, was completing a fellowship in perinatology. He shared her views on medicine and had her quick intuitive way with people.

I felt a measure of relief as I hung up and turned to flabby-chins. She was agog watching me. Yes, she knew where Friendship was--Canary and Bidwell sent all theiraccident cases there. Two miles up the road, a couple of turns, you couldn't miss it.

"Can you call ahead and tell them we're coming? Tell them it's a young girl--diabetes--labor."

Now that the crisis had penetrated, she was eager to help, glad to call.

I sprinted back to Consuelo, who lay on the grass under a sapling, breathing shallowly. I knelt beside her and touched her face. The skin was cold and heavy with sweat. She didn't open her eyes, but mumbled in Spanish. I couldn't hear what she said, except she thought she was talking to her mother.

"Yeah, I'm here, baby. You're not alone. We'll do this together. Come on, sweetheart, come on, hold on, hold on."

I felt as though I were suffocating, my breasts bending inward and pushing against my heart. "Hang on, Consuelo. Don't die out here."

Somehow I got her to her feet. Half carrying her, half guiding her, I staggered the hundred yards or so to the car. I was terrified she might faint. Once in the car I think she did lose consciousness, but I put all my energy into following the dispatcher's hasty directions. On up the road we'd come by, second left, next right. The hospital, slung low to the ground like a giant starfish, lay in front of me. I slammed the car against a curb by the emergency entrance. Flabby-chins had done her part. By the time I had my door open, practiced hands had pulled Consuelo easily from the car onto a wheeled stretcher.

"She's got diabetes," I told the attendant. "She just finished her twenty-eighth week. That's about all I can tell you. Her doctor in Chicago is sending out someone who knows her case."

Steel doors hissed open on pneumatic slides; the attendants raced the gurney through. I followed slowly, watching until the long hallway swallowed the cart. If Consuelo could hold on to the tubes and pumps until Malcolm got there, it would be all right.

I kept repeating that to myself as I wandered in the direction taken by Consuelo's gurney. I came to a nurse's station a mile or so down the hall. Two starch-capped young white women were carrying on an intense, low-pitched conversation. Judging from a smothered burst of laughter, I didn't think it had anything to do with patient treatment.

"Excuse me. I'm V.I. Warshawski--I came in with the obstetrical emergency a few minutes ago. Who can I talk to about her?"

One of the women said she was going to check on "number 108." The other felt her cap to make sure her identity was still intact and put on her medical smile--blank yet patronizing.

"I'm afraid we don't have any information about her yet. Are you her mother?"

Mother? I thought, momentarily outraged. But to these young women I probably looked old enough to be a grandmother. "No--family friend. Her doctor will be here in about an hour. Malcolm Tregiere--he's part of Lotty Herschel's team--you want to let the emergency room staff know?" I wondered if Lotty, world-famous, would be known in Schaumburg.

"I'll get someone to tell them as soon as we have a nurse free." A perfect Ipana smile flashed meaninglessly at me. "In the meantime, why don't you go to the waiting room at the end of the hall? We prefer people off the floor until visiting hours start."

I blinked a few times--what relevance did that have to getting information about Consuelo? But it was probably better to save my fighting energy for a real battle. I retraced my steps and found the waiting room.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    Great read

    This book is a great crime novel. Full of suspense and will keep your interest.....a page turner. A quick and easy read that will leave you wanting to read more of the author's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    I love this book!

    I have enjoyed medical thrillers my whole life, and this one is a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2006

    It's a long tale

    This is the fourth Warshawski novel I've read and I don't think I'll have the patience to read the fifth one. I came to the conclusion that Sara Paretsky's novels are not for me.While reading the identical storylines I feel deja vu of some sort.A weak plot is filled with unnecessary details that don't add up to much thing and that verbose writing style makes the books at least fifty pages thicker and you often get strayed.I always prefer Louis L'Amour or Ed McBain.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2000

    A Great Medical Mystery

    Sara Paretsky's protagonist is a ground breaker, a female private investigator. In Bitter Medicine V. I. Warshawski becomes tangled up in enquiries about the death of a teenage mother and her newborn child. Warshwski took Consuelo to a private hospital when she started labour but they both died. To add to confusion one of Consuelo's doctors, Malcolm Tregiere, is beaten to death the next day. Warshawski gets her face slashed by gang members while investigating Malcolm's murder. She is involved in a violent demonstration and her flat is broken into. All part of being a private investigator. As usual Paretsky keeps us on our toes as the cases unravel.

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    Posted March 13, 2011

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