Review: Fallout by Sara Paretsky

Title: Fallout by Sara Paretsky
V.I. Warshawski Series
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


LEE CHILD says she’s “a genius.”

P.D. JAMES called her “the most remarkable” of today’s suspense writers.

STIEG LARSSON loved her work so much, he named her in his novels.

And now SARA PARETSKY returns with the most extraordinary novel of her legendary career: FALLOUT.

Before there was Lisbeth Salander, before there was Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. WARSHAWSKI. To her parents, she’s Victoria Iphigenia. To her friends, she’s Vic. But to clients seeking her talents as a detective, she’s V.I. And her new case will lead her from her native Chicago… and into Kansas, on the trail of a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star.

Accompanied by her dog, V.I. tracks her quarry through a university town, across fields where missile silos once flourished — and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions, a past that holds the key to the crimes of the present. But as the mysteries stack up, so does the body count. And in this, her toughest case, not even V.I. is safe.

Exciting and provocative, fiercely intelligent and witty, FALLOUT is reading at its most enjoyable and powerful.


In Sara Paretsky’s, Fallout, the latest installment in the V.I. Warshawski  series, the intrepid sleuth must travel to Lawrence, Kansas in order to locate a missing filmmaker and an aging film star.

Vernie Bourchard’s friend Angela Creedy is worried about her missing cousin, August Veriden, who has not been seen or heard from in quite some time and they convince V.I. to find him. Discovering the police would like to interview August about a break in and robbery at the gym where he works as a personal trainer, she quickly learns his apartment has also been recently ransacked. Quickly learning August is filming a documentary starring African American actress Emerald Ferring, she is soon attempting to retrace their steps. Her first stop is an Army post in Kansas where she meets Colonel Dante Bagetto.  V.I. and her dog Peppy then journey to Lawrence where the townspeople are not exactly eager to answer her questions. However, V.I. is quite tenacious and she eventually discovers Emerald’s long ago visits to Lawrence in 1983 are tied to an anti-nuclear protest at the Kanwaka Missile Silo and her mother Lucinda’s funeral.  As V.I. continues searching for August and Emerald, she uncovers some puzzling clues and unsettling information  about these long ago events.  What, if any, connection is there between what happened in 1983 and her current case? And most importantly, where are August and Emerald?

V.I. has good instincts and she cannot help but wonder why everyone she meets is so reluctant to talk to her when she arrives in Lawrence. Her first solid lead almost ends in tragedy for local Sonia Kiel, a homeless woman with a history of mental illness and an alcohol problem. Although Sonia only confirms her suspicion that August and Emerald were recently in town, the confirmation is enough for V.I. to continue searching for answers.  Her quest keeps leading right back to the now defunct Kanwaka Missile Silo which abuts a local farm owned by Doris McKinnon.  A shocking discovery at the farm puts V.I. under the close scrutiny of local law enforcement who are none too pleased she is poking around in the town’s secrets.  When V.I. stumbles across a meeting with Colonel Bagetto, local Sheriff Gisborne, the oddly familiar Marlon Pinsen and agricultural executive Bram Roswell, her curiosity is definitely piqued but she remains uncertain whether or not the tête-à-tête has anything to do with her missing duo.

V.I.’s search for August and Emerald continues circling back to the events that occurred in 1983 and local researcher Dr. Nathan Kiel, who also happens to be Sonia’s father.  A little more sleuthing turns up unexpected links to Emerald but V.I. is having difficulty piecing together the disparate clues.  V.I. refuses to give up trying to find Emerald and August and she is growing more and more concerned for their safety after a second attempt is made on Sonia’s life and another person turns up dead. When she continues to see Bagetto, Giborne and Pinsen together, V.I. is certain her case is linked to what happened at the Kanwaka Missile Silo in 1983.  After Vernie grows impatient with V.I.’s lack of progress in locating August, she  makes an impulsive decision to join her in Lawrence and inadvertently puts herself and V.I. in danger. Will V.I. be able to escape from a precarious situation?  Will she locate August and Emerald?

With a refreshing change of scenery, a unique case to solve and a cast of interesting characters, Fallout is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery that old and fans of the V.I. Warshawski series do not want to miss. Sara Paretsky keeps the series fresh as she changes the setting for this latest release from Chicago to Kansas.  V.I. has to contend with unusual surroundings, and without her usual go to people to help her out, she is forced to rely on herself to unlock the increasingly puzzling mystery she is currently embroiled in.  The novel comes to a pulse-pounding conclusion that completely wraps all of the various story arcs. I highly recommend this absolutely brilliant and intricately-plotted mystery to fans of the genre.

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Fallout, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Sara Paretsky, VI Warshawski Series, William Morrow

One Response to Review: Fallout by Sara Paretsky

  1. Timitra

    Sounds really good. Thanks for the review Kathy