02 July 2014

Another old favorite

Paretsky and friend
Somewhere back in the ancient '80s, I first read a novel by Sara Paretsky. She made a big splash in the mystery writing world because her main character was an active, effective woman. Not that there hadn't been women detectives in fiction before. Think Nora Charles or Cherry Ames or Nancy Drew. But, Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski was neither the partner to a man nor a girl detective.

I found the character a wonderful contrast to the male/macho detectives I'd been reading. Plus, Warshawski lived in Chicago, not in New York or LA.

But Warshawski gradually evolved into the kind of hard charging, "damn the torpedoes," kind of macho detective that had persuaded me to stop reading most other mysteries (especially Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone).

I saw Paretsky's Breakdown on the bargain table at the bookstore. I hesitated. But the bargain was so good. I gave in and bought it. I'm glad I did.

Paretsky is still a very good story teller. Her characters are still recognizable and believable, even if there are references to vampires. Warshawski didn't do anything stupid, although she had a near death experience near the end of the story. Well, there has to be a climax. And the final scene in a television studio nearly earns an improbability award.

Nothing memorable here, but I'll live with it. It'll go on the pile for next spring's community used book sale.

Have you read Breakdown? Have you read other recent Paretsky novels? Write, and tell this little bit of the world what you thought of it/them.

1 comment:

Ken Wedding said...

Dan Conrad wrote:
I've read four or five of her series with V.I. Warshawski and have liked them all.

Most recently read Critical Mass which followed Breakdown and I think is the latest--and possibly the best one I've read so far.

She keeps her heroine fresh and interesting in a way that Jacqueline Winspeare (Maisie Dobbs) and Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy) can't seem to do.

Critical Mass, as is typical, is terribly complicated without being hard to follow, and hits on everything from the stealing of early computer designs, to the Manhattan Project, to drug addiction and some really terrible guys from Homeland Security. Oh, and the usual close brushes with death.

I liked it and think I'll turn to Breakdown. How Paretsky knows so much about so many esoteric subjects is beyond me. I'll admit to getting a little lost in the intricacies of computer models, but it didn't matter.