“I felt a little prickling along the base of my neck, that primitive adrenaline jolt that lets you know you’re getting close to the saber-toothed tiger”
Sara Paretsky’s veteran private investigator, V. I. Warshawski, is summoned to her childhood suburbs in this family/industrial mystery, in which the kid next door wants Vic to find her father. Vic stumbles onto a industrial negligence cover-up, and as usual, is shortly on the trial of the bad guys…
As usual, there is a decent sized cast as Vic battles with the police, her client, a geriatric doctor and his battleaxe sister – Cleo is my favourite character in the whole book, I think – and a swathe of villains. Vic’s downstairs neighbour makes plenty of overprotective appearances, as always, and her friends Lotty and Max come back too. I can’t say there’s masses of character development of Vic herself, but Caroline is quite a riddle and it’s good to see her evolve; ditto the mayor’s son Art.
I didn’t see any of the plot thread resolutions coming, so that’s a big commendation. The various threads all tie up neatly, but it was good to see the different threads (Caroline’s paternity, the murder of a key character, the historical industrial relations issue, and the doctor’s past) being attended to in reasonably equal measures.
The writing is of a better quality than I had remembered Paretsky’s to be – she uses words like submoronic, pilfering, “exuberant philathropy” – it’s not Pulitzer-winning but it’s a pleasant surprise to see a crime writer stretch their vocabulary every now and again. The book was very easy to pick up again, despite the multiple plot threads.
One for Eighties nostalgics and private investigator fiction fans.