Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Breakdown - Sara Paretsky

Picking up the latest Sara Paretsky book is like sitting down with an old friend to hear a new story. Paretsky penned her first book featuring private investigator V.I. Warshawski in 1982. Nearly thirty years later, the newly released Breakdown is the fifteenth book in this long running series.

V.I. receives a frantic call from her cousin Petra late one night - a group of girls holding a initiation ceremony based on their favourite author's vampire books get more than they bargained for when they stumble across a corpse - staked through the heart. And these aren't just any teens - they're the offspring of some of Chicago's wealthiest and politically powerful families. Rescuing the girls makes V.I. late for a meeting with her old friend Leydon Ashford. By the time V.I. makes their meeting, it's too late - either troubled Leydon has jumped from a balcony or she was pushed. In a coma, she is unable to let anyone know what happened. As V.I. decides to investigate further into both of these seemingly disparate occurrences, she is warned off - by more than one party. Of course, that only fuels V.I.'s fire....

What has made this such an enduring series? V.I. has aged and her life has progressed in real time. She was a character I liked from the first book and my opinion hasn't changed. She's true to her principles and beliefs, always with an eye towards justice. Now, that's not to say that she won't bend the rules just a bit to get the results she needs. And she's tough, having taken more than her fair share of hard knocks. But she gives as good as she gets. She says what she thinks, she's smart, loyal and someone you'd want on your side. "...sometimes you are so single-minded in your search for answers that you don't always think of the consequences."

Paretsky's plotting is always good - the mysteries are intricate and not easily solved. It is the personal issues and plot lines that elevate this series beyond a simple whodunit. It almost feels like V.I. and her friends and family are real people. The writing and reading flow effortlessly.

You can certainly read Breakdown without having read any of the others in this series, but I bet you'll be hunting down her backlist once you discover this fantastic female protagonist!

You can find Sara Paretsky on Facebook and on Twitter.

6 comments:

Kay said...

It's been a long time since I read a V.I. book. I'm not sure why. Just too many other series I suspect. This one sounds appealing and I think I'll be on the lookout for it. I need to catch back up with this great character.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read any of this series in ages. I need to get back to it.

Luanne said...

Kay and Kathy - They're like a comfort read for me - I know what to expect, but it's still a good read.

Teena in Toronto said...

Wow! I haven't read a V.I. Warshawski novel in years!

Luanne said...

Teena - I wonder how long Paretsky will keep the series going?

Howard said...

There was a great interview with Sara Paretsky on the Book Report radio show. Listen to the archived shows on http://www.bookreportradio.com.
It sounds like she will be going strong for some time to come.