Category Archives: VI Warshawski Series

Review: Dead Land by Sara Paretsky

Title: Dead Land by Sara Paretsky
V.I. Warshawski Series Book Twenty
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Chicago’s legendary detective, V.I. Warshawski, knows her city’s rotten underbelly better than most, but she’s unable to avoid it when her goddaughter drags her into a fight over lakefront land use, in this propulsive novel from New York Times bestseller Sara Paretsky.

Chicago may be the city of broad shoulders, but its political law is “Pay to Play.” Money changes hands in the middle of the night, and by morning, buildings and parks are replaced by billion-dollar projects.

Chicago PI V.I. Warshawski gets pulled into one of these clandestine deals through her impetuous goddaughter, Bernie Fouchard. Bernie tries to rescue Lydia Zamir, a famed singer-songwriter now living on the streets; Zamir’s life fell apart when her lover was murdered next to her in a mass shooting at an outdoor concert. Not only does Bernie plunge her and V.I. headlong into the path of some ruthless developers, they lead to the murder of the young man Bernie is dating. He’s a computer geek working for a community group called SLICK.

V.I. is desperate to find a mysterious man named Coop, who roams the lakefront in the middle of the night with his dog. She’s sure he holds the key to the mounting body count within SLICK. Coop may even know why an international law firm is representing the mass murderer responsible for Lydia’s lover’s death. Instead, the detective finds a terrifying conspiracy stretching from Chicago’s parks to a cover-up of the dark chapters in America’s meddling in South American politics. Before she finds answers, this electrifying novel pushes V.I. close to the breaking point: People who pay to play take no prisoners.


Dead Land by Sara Paretsky is a multi-layered mystery. Although this latest release is the twentieth installment in the V.I. Warshawski series, it can be read as a standalone.

Private detective V.I. Warshawski accidentally becomes involved in an increasingly complex missing persons case.  Following a mass shooting four years earlier in which her boyfriend Hector Palurdo was murdered, singer Lydia Zamir disappeared from the public eye. That is until V.I. and her goddaughter Bernadette “Bernie” Fouchard stumble across Lydia living in the streets of Chicago. Warshawski is worried about Lydia since she is obviously malnourished and clearly suffering from some kind of mental illness. Lydia is fiercely guarded by Coop who is well known for his anger issues but little else.  V.I.’s search for the missing woman takes her to Kansas where someone makes it very clear they do not want her poking around in the mass shooting case.

As V.I. tries to locate Lydia,  Bernie’s  boyfriend Leo Prinz is murdered following a community action group’s meeting about an upcoming Chicago Park’s project to add a beach to a local lakefront. V.I. is upset the local police are not taking Leo’s death more seriously so she takes matters into her own hands. She is very curious about Leo’s interest in a map that he caught a brief glimpse of not long before his murder. V.I. is very concerned when she discovers another person from the community action group is missing.  But before she can look into his disappearance, Coop leaves his dog Bear with her and vanishes. Her efforts to find Coop lead to an alarming discovery.

Warshawski’s investigations become very convoluted as she searches for answers about where Lydia might be and what is going on with the beach project. Why have two people involved with the proposed project been murdered?  Why is Parks Superintendent Gifford Taggett hostile when she questions him about the project? Where is Coop? And does he have anything to do with Lydia going missing? Some of the answers to these questions are rather shocking and take V.I.’s hunt for the truth in very unexpected directions.

Dead Land is a complicated mystery that is interesting but sometimes a little slow-paced. V.I. is a tenacious private investigator who does not give up even as her investigation turns puts her in danger.  The plot is intriguing and takes several seemingly unconnected turns.  However, Sara Paretsky expertly weaves the various story arcs together into a stunning conclusion that neatly ties up all of the disparate threads. This latest addition to the V.I. Warshawski series will delight old and new readers of this wonderful series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dead Land, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Sara Paretsky, Suspense, VI Warshawski Series

Review: Shell Game by Sara Paretsky

Title: Shell Game by Sara Paretsky
V.I. Warshawski Series Book 19
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Sara Paretsky follows her instant New York Times bestseller Fallout—her most widely read novel in years—with an extraordinary adventure that pits her acclaimed detective, V.I. Warshawski, against some of today’s most powerful figures.

Legendary sleuth V.I. Warshawski returns to the Windy City to save an old friend’s nephew from a murder arrest. The case involves a stolen artifact that could implicate a shadowy network of international criminals. As V.I. investigates, the detective soon finds herself tangling with the Russian mob, ISIS backers, and a shady network of stock scams and stolen art that stretches from Chicago to the East Indies and the Middle East. In Shell Game, nothing and no one are what they seem, except for the detective herself, who loses sleep, money, and blood, but remains indomitable in her quest for justice.


Shell Game by Sara Paretsky is an engrossing crime drama featuring two perplexing mysteries. This nineteenth installment in the V.I. Warshawski series can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the entire series.

V.I. Warshawski is called out in the middle of the night when her close friend Lottie Herschel’s grandnephew Felix is ordered to a crime scene. The dead man has Felix’s name on a scrap of paper in his pocket and Lt. McGivney is convinced Felix is involved in his death. Before V.I. can delve too deeply into the murder,  her smarmy ex-husband Richard Yarborough’s niece Harmony Seale asks for her help in locating her missing sister, Reno. Reno works for Rest EZ, a payday lending company and she vanished following a business trip to the Caribbean. V.I. is very worried for her niece’s safety after making an ominous discovery at the missing young woman’s apartment. Before long, V.I. and Harmony are targeted by Russian thugs who will stop at nothing to find what they are looking for. Meanwhile, Felix is under intense scrutiny by Lt. McGivney who is chomping at the bit to arrest him for murder. Will V.I. uncover locate Reno and unmask the dead man’s murderer before it is too late?

After receiving an anonymous tip, Warshawski quickly learn the identity of the murdered man.  After she searches his apartment, she finds her first lead and crosses paths with the thugs who continue to bedevil her throughout her investigation. Her findings take her to a local university where she learns intriguing information about the victim’s overseas activities and his interest in priceless antiquities. How all of this adds up to murder is unclear, but V.I. doggedly tracks down clues despite being stretched thin by two cases and demanding clients.

V.I. is also still trying to find out what happened to Reno.  The employees at Rest EZ are less than forthcoming about what happened to Reno on the employee retreat and V.I. begins digging into the corporation’s background. The business ownership is murky and V.I. is very curious about their connection to other shadowy corporations.

With danger lurking around every corner, Shell Game is a thrilling mystery with a topical storyline. V.I.’s investigation is a bit slow at first but once the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, she gradually begins to suspect the two cases might be linked. With plenty of action, Sara Paretsky  brings this complex and intriguing mystery to a twisty-turny conclusion. Fans of the genre are sure to enjoy this newest addition to the V.I. Warshawski series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Rated B, Review, Sara Paretsky, Shell Game, Suspense, VI Warshawski Series, William Morrow

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.

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