Body Work (V. I. Warshawski Series #14)

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Overview

The last thing V.I. Warshawski was expecting when she showed up at Chicago's Club Gouge was that she'd wind up cradling a dying performance artist in an alley. A PTSD-stricken soldier is presumed guilty of the murder, but it's up to V.I. to find out what kinds of shady activities are really happening at Club Gouge...

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Overview

The last thing V.I. Warshawski was expecting when she showed up at Chicago's Club Gouge was that she'd wind up cradling a dying performance artist in an alley. A PTSD-stricken soldier is presumed guilty of the murder, but it's up to V.I. to find out what kinds of shady activities are really happening at Club Gouge...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Paretsky's superb 14th novel featuring PI V.I. Warshawski (after Hardball) delves into Chicago's avant-garde art scene. At the trendy Club Gouge, where Warshawski is keeping an eye on Petra, a young cousin who caused trouble in the previous book, performance artist Karen Buckley (aka the Body Artist) invites members of the audience to step on stage to paint her nude body. The intricate design that one woman paints on Karen's back provokes a violent outburst from Chad Vishneski, a troubled Iraqi war veteran. When two nights later, someone shoots the woman who upset Chad outside the club, Chad is the logical murder suspect. Hired by Chad's estranged parents to clear his name, Warshawski straddles a minefield that reaches from the Windy City's neighborhoods to the Gulf War battlefields. Scenes with her aging neighbor and a new love interest give a much needed balance to the serious plot. This strong outing shows why the tough, fiercely independent, dog-loving private detective continues to survive. (Sept.)
Library Journal
A hip new body artist becomes Chicago's latest stage attraction, drawing impassioned participation from nightclub customers. Nadia, an emotional young woman; Chad, an agitated Iraqi war veteran suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder; and Rodney, a pugnacious older guy, are all heavily involved in the artistic performances, until one volatile night when Nadia is murdered after the show. Chad is arrested, and V.I. Warshawski agrees to investigate on his behalf, mostly because Rodney's actions have aroused her suspicions. The newest in this long-running series (after Hardball) requires all of V.I.'s detecting skills as she struggles to figure out the intricate connections among such disparate individuals. Both blog postings and car chases chill V.I.'s soul as she's reminded what powerful people will do to suppress freedom. Leave it to our fierce heroine and her ensemble of friends to bring it to light.Verdict Topically relevant and elaborately plotted, Paretsky's latest is another solid V.I. Warshawski case. Her use of body art is an inspired plot device that weaves all the way through to a clever, whirlwind finish. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/10.]—Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA
Marilyn Stasio
Paretsky goes in for dense and weighty…plots, and this one is no exception…Still, Paretsky is careful and conscientious, always giving good value, and even her subplots are loaded with provocative ideas.
—The New York Times Book Review
Kathy Blumenstock
Since her 1982 arrival on the mystery scene, V.I. has aged and adapted. No more Olivetti typewriter for reports: She now deciphers texts, syncs her cellphone and laptop to aggregate photos, and plugs background searches into Web sites. But her signature physical toughness hasn't faltered, despite shootings, beatings and enough concussions for a discount on MRIs. Now facing 50, V.I. is still quick with her fists, and she proudly describes herself as a street-fighter.#8230;Her skill set is just the right fit for a one-woman detective agency, cracking complex cases, and taking us along for the action.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399156748
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Series: V. I. Warshawski Series , #14
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara  Paretsky

Sara Paretsky is the author of sixteen books, including her renowned V. I. Warshawski novels. Her many awards include 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

1
Dead in the Alley

Nadia Guaman died in my arms. Seconds after I left Club Gouge, I heard gunshots, screams, squealing tires, from the alley behind the building. I ran across the parking lot, slipping on gravel and ruts, and found Nadia crumpled on the dirty ice. Blood was flowing from her chest in a thick tide.

I ripped off my scarf and opened her coat. The wound was high in her chest—too high, I knew that—but I still made a pad of my scarf and pressed it against her. Keeping pressure on the pad, I struggled out of my coat and placed it under her. Left hand on chest, right hand underneath, pushing my coat against the exit wound. Without looking up or stopping the pressure, I shouted at the people surging around us to call 911, now, at once.

Nadia's eyes flickered open as I cradled her. The ghost of a smile flickered at the sides of her wide mouth. "Alley. Alley."

"Shhh, Nadia, save your strength."

I thought it was a good sign, a hopeful sign, that she spoke, and I kept pushing against her wound, singing snatches of a cradle song, trying to keep us both calm. When the paramedics arrived, and pried my hands free from her wounds, they shook their heads. She'd been dead for several minutes already.

I started to shiver. It was only when the medics forced me to my feet that I felt the January wind cut into my bones. The medics brought me into the ambulance but left Nadia lying on the ground, waiting for a tech team to photograph her. The crew wrapped a blanket around me and gave me hot sweet coffee from their own thermos.

"You did the best that could be done. No one could have done more." The tech was short and muscular, with wiry red hair. "She was bleeding out within minutes of being shot. I'm guessing the bullet nicked a major vein, but the ME will tell us more. Was she a friend?"

I shook my head. We'd barely spoken, and at that point, in fact, I only knew her first name.

A cop poked his head through the open ambulance door. "You the gal that put her coat on the dead girl?"

Dead woman, I started to say, but I was too exhausted to fight that battle tonight. Nadia was dead, and whatever one called her, it wouldn't bring her back to life. I didn't move from the bench facing the stretcher but croaked out a yes.

"Can we talk inside, ma'am?" the cop said. "The EMTs are going to take the dead girl to the morgue as soon as the photo team is through, and it's five degrees here in the parking lot."

I handed the blanket back to the ambulance crew and let the cop give me a hand as I jumped off the back. Nadia was lying where I'd left her, her face silver under the blue strobes, the blood on her chest black. My coat was still underneath her. I walked over and fished my car and house keys from the pockets, despite outcries from the evidence team. My handbag was lying a few feet from the "dead woman," I muttered out loud. I picked up the bag, also against the outraged shouts of the officer in charge.

"That's evidence."

"It's my handbag, which I dropped when I was performing first aid. You don't need it and I do." I turned on my heel and walked back into the Club Gouge. The bag was handmade from red leather, an apology of sorts from the friend of a dead missing person, and I wasn't going to risk losing it or my wallet in an evidence locker.

Everyone who'd been in the club or the parking lot, except those crafty enough to escape ahead of the team in blue, had been herded into the building. A minute before, I'd been too cold, but the club atmosphere, hot, nearly airless, made me ill. I started to sweat, and fought a rising tide of nausea.

The club staff, including my cousin Petra, were huddled by the bar. After a moment, when I decided I wasn't going to vomit, I shoved my way through the crowd to Petra's side.

"Vic, what happened?" Petra's blue eyes were wide with fear. "You're covered with blood."

I looked down and saw Nadia's blood on my jeans and sweater, on my hands. My scalp crawled: maybe her blood was in my hair.

"Someone shot a woman as she left the club," I said.

"Was it—who was it?"

"I heard her called 'Nadia,'" I said slowly, fixing Petra with a hard stare. "I don't know if that's her name, and I don't know her last name. If the cops, or a reporter, ask you questions about what happened tonight, you can answer only truthfully about things you actually know and saw. You shouldn't answer questions about things that are just guesses, because that could mislead the cops."

"It would be best if you don't consult the other witnesses," a voice said.

A female officer had fought through the shouting, texting, Twittering chaos to appear at my side.

Under the club lights, I could see her face, narrow, with pronounced cheekbones, and lank black hair cut so short the ends only just appeared below her cap rim. I read her badge: E. Milkova. E. Milkova didn't look much older than my cousin, too young to be a cop, too young to be telling me what to do. But—she had the badge. I let her guide me to the small stage at the back of the club, which the police had roped off with crime scene tape so they could use it for interrogations. She lifted the tape so I could crawl under, then dragged a couple of chairs from the nearest table. I reached a hand out and took one of them from her.

I was in that numb place you inhabit after you've been part of violence and death. It was hard to focus on Milkova's questions. I gave her my name. I told her I'd heard gunshots and run to see what the problem was. I told her I didn't know the dead woman.

"But you knew her name," Milkova said.

"That was just from hearing someone call her 'Nadia.' I don't know her last name."

"Most people run away from gunshots."

I didn't say anything.

"You ran toward them."

I still didn't say anything, and she frowned at me. "Why?"

"Why, which?" I said.

"Why did you run toward danger?"

When I was younger and more insouciant, I would have quoted the great Philip Marlowe and said, "Trouble is my business," but tonight I was cold and apprehensive. "I don't know."

"Did you see anyone in the club threaten Nadia tonight?"

I shook my head. I hadn't seen anyone threaten her tonight. Earlier, that was another story, but my years as a public defender had taught me to answer only the question asked.

"Did you come here tonight because you thought there would be an attack on someone?"

"It's a club. I came because I wanted to see the acts."

"You're a private investigator. They tell me you've been involved in a lot of high-profile investigations."

Someone had ID'd me to the police. I wondered if it was the club's owner, out of malice. "Thank you," I said.

Milkova pushed her short hair back behind her ears, a nervous gesture—she wasn't sure how to proceed. "But don't you think it's a strange coincidence, you being here the night someone got shot?"

"Cops have days off. Even doctors. And PIs have been known to take them, too." I didn't want to throw Petra to the wolves, and that's what would happen if I said anything about wanting to keep an eye on my cousin's workplace.

No one had bothered to turn off the Body Artist's computer, and the plasma screens on the stage kept flashing images of flowers and jungle animals. It made a disturbing backdrop to the interrogation.

"Vic, what are you doing here?"

I looked around and saw Terry Finchley, a detective I've known for a long time. "Terry! I might ask you the same question."

Finchley's been out of the field for five or six years now, on the personal staff of my dad's old protégé, Captain Bobby Mallory. I was surprised to see the Finch at an active homicide investigation.

He gave a wry smile. "Captain thought it was time I got my hands dirty again. And if you're anything to judge by, they're going to get mighty dirty indeed on this investigation."

I looked again at my stained hands. I was beginning to feel twitchy, covered in Nadia's blood. Terry climbed the shallow step to the stage and told Milkova to get him a chair.

"What have you learned, Liz?" Finchley asked Officer Milkova. So the E stood for Elizabeth.

"She's not cooperating, sir. She won't say how she knew the vic or why she was here, or anything."

"Officer Milkova, I've told you I didn't know the victim," I said. "It makes me cranky when people don't listen to me."

"Pretty much any damn thing makes you cranky, Warshawski," Finchley said. "But, out of curiosity, how did you get involved?"

"I was leaving the club, I heard gunshots. I ran across the parking lot and saw a woman on the ground. She was bleeding; I tried to block the wounds, so I didn't take time to follow the shooters. But on the principle that no good deed is left unpunished, I'm being treated as though I had something to do with the dead woman's murder." My voice had risen to a shout.

"Vic, you're exhausted. And I don't blame you." Terry's tone was unusually gentle, the sharp planes in his ebony cheeks softening with empathy. He'd felt angry with me for a lot of years—maybe I was finally forgiven. His voice sharpened. "The techs are annoyed because you took evidence from the crime scene. And, for that, I not only don't blame them but need you to turn it over to them."

Okay, not forgiven. He was just doing good-bad cop all in one paragraph.

"It wasn't evidence: these were my personal belongings that I dropped when I tried to administer first aid. I picked them up when Officer Milkova told me to leave the scene. I think your techs would be grateful to have extraneous items removed. Although I did abandon my coat."

My throat contracted, and I looked involuntarily at my hand, my right hand, which had been pushing my coat against Nadia's bleeding back. "You can keep the coat. I'll never wear it again."

Finchley paused briefly, and decided to let my handbag ride.

"Did you know the dead woman?"

"No."

"Why were you here?"

"It's a club. You can come in if you want a drink and want to see the show. I was doing both those things."

Finchley sighed. "You know, anyone else in this town, I'd nod and take your name and phone number and urge you to wash the blood off and try to forget the horrors you witnessed. But V. I. Warshawski chooses to come to a club the one night in the year a woman gets murdered at their back door? You know what the captain's going to ask when he hears that. Why were you here tonight?"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 112 )
Rating Distribution

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(28)

4 Star

(33)

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(23)

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 113 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    fans of the long running series will conclude V.I. Warshawski (and Sara Paretsky) still has it

    At Chicago's in Club Gouge, private investigator V.I. Warshawski is watching her troublesome younger cousin Petra. On stage, trendy performance artist Karen "The Body Artist" Buckley encourages her audience to join her in order to use her naked body as a canvas to paint on. One participant draws an elaborate design on the back of Karen; however, Iraqi War veteran Chad Vishneski is outraged with the picture and lets everyone knows as he shouts profanities.

    Two nights later, the "Body Artist" whose body painting caused the outburst is shot dead near Club Gouge. The police name Chad a person of interest. His concerned estranged parents hire Warshawski to prove their troubled son did not kill the woman. Her inquiry drifts back and forth between the Chicago war zone and the Middle East theaters of operation, but each step the detective takes seems filled with IEDs.

    The latest Warshawski Hardball noir is a strong entry as the kick butt sleuth takes no prisoners while working the mean streets of Chicago's North Side. Action packed and tough on the case yet sensitive in her personal relationships, fans of the long running series will conclude V.I. Warshawski (and Sara Paretsky) still has it.

    Harriet Klausner

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not For Me

    I didn't care for the characters, the writing, or the plot of this novel. I understand that women may find it more appealing as it involves a woman detective and several women victimized, but even so, women are entitled to a good story too. The lesbian underculture involving a body artist who paints gruesome things to degrade her body is not going to be universally appealing. In short, nothing worked for me here, and I regretted getting the book.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 7, 2010

    Worst book shes ever written

    She could have left out at least 100 pages of this book. It was difficult to follow, the plot rambled and don't get me started about the ending. Her first books were excellent, the last 2 are not worth wasting your time on.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    very disappointing

    I'm sorry I just found nothing likeable about the characters in this story, this after reading 100 pages of a 300+ book. I liked Warshawski, just not the cast of this story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    all over the place

    Trying a bit too hard to be something different and unique but doesn't put any thought into realy getting there, a bit disappointed.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Body Work

    V.I. Warshawski with her niece Petra. Petra is working in a club that features an artist known as the "the Body Artist" where patrons painting what they want on her nude body. Warshawski is asked to check out the club by her niece who thinks some strange things are going on. Soon, she is trying to save a woman who was just stabbed and eventually is hired to protect the name of an American soldier accused of the crime. This story has Vic getting beat up, not getting enough sleep and getting into too much trouble. Let's see what she does in her next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    Good but not Great

    This one was pretty good mainly due to an unusual plot. I felt that the book was a bit too lengthy for the story. It would have read better with a faster pace and a hundred or so pages less. The author seems to think she has to do 400 pages per book when 250-300 is still a good length for a novel. Also, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who can' t deal with how Paretsky perodically tries to push the liberal agenda onto the reader. Otherwise, it is a good read but not fantastic. Stephanie Clanahan

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    280 pages with nothing happening

    This was the most boring, boring book, over 280 pages and Vic did not know anthing. Plus a paragraph that is an exact duplicate of one in another book, starring Vic. And the same story line about a cousin, young getting into trouble, losing job and going to wirk for Viv. The exact same story line. Who needs it. I do not, last book of this authors I sm going to read

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  • Posted December 1, 2012

    Recommended

    I stopped reading these books some years ago because they were too depressing and violent. This book was interesting, not overly violent, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Vic is ageing well.

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    Not so good

    Was really disappointed in this one. Not as good as many of her others.

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Good!

    I am a huge fan of this series. Very good book. I'm looking forward to the next one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2011

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    Posted January 9, 2011

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    Posted October 26, 2010

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    Posted October 9, 2010

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    Posted October 8, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2011

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    Posted December 26, 2010

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    Posted August 15, 2011

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    Posted April 24, 2011

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