Blacklist: A V.I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky's mystery series featuring VI Warshawski is a classic in the private investigator subgenre.

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Blacklist: A V.I. Warshawski Novel by Sara Paretsky


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Hardcover (Large Print)

Amazon.com
Privilege, politics, and perfidy jointly propel the circuitous plot of Blacklist, Sara Paretsky's 11th novel featuring tenacious Chicago private-eye V.I. Warshawski. By the time this story runs its course, V.I. will have harbored an alleged Arab terrorist, resurrected the ghosts of America's 1950s anti-Communist hysteria, and questioned the integrity of a man she once admired "to the point of hero worship." In other words, it's a typical case for this hard-headed, sarcastic, and perpetually sleep-deprived sleuth.

Still suffering from "exhaustion of the spirit" in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, V.I. is hired to find out who may be sneaking into a vacated suburban mansion. Geraldine Graham, the home's 91-year-old former owner, who still lives nearby, claims she's seen lights in the attic at night. Our heroine suspects this is simply a bid by the wealthy dowager for greater attention, but agrees to do some nocturnal prowling--only to stumble (literally) across the body of a dead black journalist, Marcus Whitby, in the estate’s ornamental pond and encounter a teenage girl fleeing the scene. The girl turns out to be Catherine Bayard, the granddaughter of Calvin Bayard, an unapologetically liberal book publisher who survived a hounding by the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee in the '50s without being blacklisted like so many of his authors. Digging deeper, V.I. learns that Whitby was doing research for a book about an African-American dancer and anthropologist who had enjoyed Bayard's support before she too was branded a Communist. Was Whitby killed en route to visit Bayard, one of Graham's neighbors--and a man who has strangely vanished from public view? And is there any connection between this murder and the disappearance of an Egyptian dishwasher, or the recent demise of a right-wing attorney and Bayard foe, in whose apartment V.I. is attacked by an intruder?

Except for a few astounding turns of luck (including the 11th-hour discovery of a revealing audiotape left in a car's player), Paretsky rolls out a credible yarn here, enriched by meticulous character development and an agreeably ambiguous conclusion. The author's intention to link McCarthy-era abuses with post-9/11 government assaults on civil rights is obvious, without being didactic, and it adds currency to a fictional investigation that's already rife with sex, betrayal, and long-held secrets among the rich. It's good to see that V.I. the P.I. hasn't lost the compassion or righteousness that first made her attractive two decades ago, in Indemnity Only. --J. Kingston Pierce

Book Description
From one of the most distinguished writers in American crime fiction - her most brilliant and daring novel yet.

This is a story of secrets and betrayals that stretch across four generations-secrets political, social, sexual, financial: all of them with the power to kill. Eager for something physical to do in the spirit-exhausting wake of 9/11, V.I. accepts a request from an old client to check up on an empty family mansion; sub-sequently surprises an intruder in the dark; and, giving chase, topples into a pond. Grasping for something to hold on to, her fingers close around a lifeless human hand.

It is the body of a reporter who had been investigating events of forty-five years earlier, during the McCarthy era, and V.I.'s discovery quickly sucks her into the history of two great Chicago families-their fortunes intertwined by blood, sex, money, and the scandals that may or may not have resulted in murder all these years later. At the same time, she inadvertently becomes involved in the story of a missing Egyptian boy whose possible terrorist connections make him very much sought after by the government. As the two cases drive her forward-and then shockingly tumble together-she finds that wealth and privilege, too, bear a terrible price; and the past has no monopoly on patriotic scoundrels. Before everything is over, at least two more people will lie dead . . . and V.I. might even be one of them.

A novel as passionate, complex, and powerfully entertaining as its acclaimed heroine, Blacklist is a stunning achievement.


Reader Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: 12th installment, and Iøm not tired of this broad, October 28, 2003 Reviewer: Peggy Vincent from Oakland, CA The first Paretsky book I read, I knew I was going to have to read all of them. And I have, and I'm still not tired of this V. I. Warshawski broad, Chicago private eye. Blacklist deals with the long-term effects of discrimination and guilt. A friend of Vic's (V. I.) asks her to investigate possible trespassing in the family mansion where she grew up. Here's a good scene: on her first foray into the property in years, she stumbles into a cruddy pond and comes up holding hands with some dead guy. Turns out he's a black journalist writing about stuff from the 30s. Things get deeper and murkier when the man's sister asks Warshawski to investigate the murder. I get the feeling that Paretski has done some fantastic research in the writing of this book, as the content spans cultures, generations, and politics over 70 yrs as she proves that prejudice is alive and well in our world. No big surprise there, but she does it so very, very well.

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