Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski has a gold-plate name that she doesn't use and a gritty street sense that makes her a modestly successful Chicago private investigator. On her latest Windy City assignment, V.I. (as she's universally known) learns that even a routine four-decade-old missing person case can escalate into matters much more immediate, deadly, and personal. A powerful urban thriller with an unforgettable female main character.
The thing about Sara Paretsky is, she's toughnot because she observes the bone-breaker conventions of the private-eye genre but because she doesn't flinch from examining old social injustices others might find too shameful (and too painful) to dig up…While her themes here are familiar…she gives them a personal spin by drawing on her own experiences as a community organizer during the summer of 1966 and sharing them with a large cast of voluble and opinionated characters, whose memories are as raw as her own. There's a real sting to both the anger of a black man who took care of a friend beaten to insensibility by racist cops and the grief of an old white woman displaced from her family home. Voices like these can ring in your ears foroh, 40 years and more.
The New York Times
This is an ambitious novel layered in the grit of recent American racial history. Paretsky has always written intelligent mysteries, but sometimesas she did in Blacklist, her excellent 2003 Warshawski novel that wrestled with the legacy of McCarthyismshe strives for more, realizing the potential of the homegrown hard-boiled detective genre to investigate the more troubling mysteries at the heart of our national identity…V.I. may be graying and sometimes a tad grim, but she's still the gal you want beside you in a fight, be it short, dirty and physical or a longer campaign for social justice. In Hardballa standout, nuanced mystery about civil rights struggles past and presentV.I. demonstrates, once again, that when push comes to shove, the scrappiest street fighters are from Chicago.
The Washington Post
Bestseller Paretsky tracks the poisonous residue of racial hatred that still seeps into Chicago life and politics in her fine 13th novel to feature gutsy PI V.I. “Vic” Warshawski, last seen in 2005's Fire Sale. In her search for a black man who disappeared in 1967, Lamont Gadsden, Vic reconnects with some of her father Tony's old police colleagues; pays a prison visit to Johnny Merton, a notorious gang leader she once defended in her lawyering days; and tracks down Steve Sawyer, who disappeared following a murder conviction. Vic confronts an ugly period in Chicago's history, a peaceful march in 1966 by Martin Luther King that resulted in a white riot and the murder of a young black woman, Harmony Newsome. Digging into this ancient history stirs passions and fears of what secrets might be revealed. The apparent kidnapping of Vic's fresh-out-of-college cousin, Petra, who's come to Chicago to work on a senatorial campaign, raises the ante. (Sept.)
Fans of Chicago sleuth V.I. Warshawski will cheer her return (after Fire Sale) as she handles a case steeped in local politics and civil unrest. V.I. accepts a cold missing-persons case and immediately begins to unearth memories that might better stay buried deep in the past. Her own family is brought up in this investigation: her father was the arresting officer on a related case; her young cousin Petra (in town working for a rising-star politician with family ties to V.I.'s uncle) takes a sudden interest in Warshawski family history and Vic's life; and V.I. has to balance her solitary bristle with a desire for connection with the past. VERDICT Packed with Chicago history and racial and personal conflict, this story picks up quickly and is a finely honed mystery with serious depth. Expect high demand from series fans. This will also appeal to any local-crime or social- issue mystery readers. Race riots, police brutality, political bribery, Chicago's dirty history—this one has it all. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA
V.I. Warshawski's 13th case (Fire Sale, 2005, etc.) drags her back to Chicago's tumultuous summer of 1966. Pastor Karen Lennon, chaplain to Lionsgate Manor nursing home, wants V.I. to help elderly Ella Gadsden and her ailing sister Claudia Ardenne with a little pro bono work. The assignment-track down Ella's missing son Lamont-would be simple, if the boy hadn't vanished more than 40 years ago, and if Chicago's finest had shown the slightest interest in his disappearance. As V.I. is settling into this cold, cold case, life goes on happening in the present. She breaks up with her most recent lover. Her cousin Petra, a bright-eyed college grad from Kansas City, pops up, lands a job working on charismatic Brian Krumas's senatorial campaign and showers V.I. with questions about their family. Lamont's surviving friends stonewall and revile V.I., even if they're in jail. Yet the draw of the past is paramount. A nun who shared murdered civil-rights activist Harmony Newsome's last moments at a Martin Luther King-led march in 1966 is murdered under V.I.'s nose. Evidence links her beloved cop father to a cover-up of police torture. And Petra disappears hours after she enters V.I.'s home with a mysterious pair who turn it upside down looking for something-a plot twist Paretsky begins with and then spends 270 pages working back up to. A tormented, many-layered tale that seems to have been dug out of Chicago history with a pickax. Readers who persevere through that interminable first-half flashback will be rewarded with the tremendous momentum of the second half.