Review: Overboard by Sara Paretsky


Title: Overboard {V.I. Warshawski #21}

Author: Sara Paretsky

Published: 10th May 2022, William Morrow

Status: Read June 2022 courtesy William Morrow/Edelweiss


My Thoughts:


Overboard is the 21st novel featuring iconic Chicago private detective, V.I. (Vic) Warshawski. The series, credited with transforming the role and image of women in crime fiction, written by award winning author Sara Paretsky made its debut 40 years ago, in 1982.

Vic is focused on three cases in this novel. The first involves a favour for her long term friend, Dr Lottie, who has asked her to investigate the harassment of a local synagogue. The second Vic stumbles into when, while walking her dogs along the foreshore, she discovers a badly beaten girl hidden amongst its rocky banks, who later vanishes from her hospital room under suspicious circumstances, and the third, a plea for help from a teenage boy who suspects his mother, whom Vic knew in highschool, is having an affair.

Readers who are familiar with series will know what to expect from Overboard. Vic is a methodical and dogged investigator who never backs down and is willing to take risks to defend the vulnerable and innocent. As adept at sifting through paperwork and databases, as she is committing the odd break-in, and fighting off attackers, Vic employs all her skills to resolve the mysteries she is faced with. I enjoy the complexity of concurrent cases, and the entertaining mix of tense action and intelligent investigation. Somewhat improbably, though not troublesomely so, VIc’s three cases also spawn loose links to, and between, a mobbed up developer, a corrupt cop, and elder care abuse.

I like that Paretsky references contemporary events within her storylines to ground them in time and place, and in Overboard she highlights several issues of the post-pandemic lockdown period, namely police violence and corruption, the rise of hate groups, and the societal changes wrought by CoVid, like the challenges of financial recovery and the use of masks.

Though Overboard can be read as a stand-alone as the plot is self contained, the story is definitely enhanced by familiarity with the characters and their world. I’d expect long time fans, like me, will enjoy and be satisfied with this new instalment.


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Review: Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky


Title: Love & Other Crimes

Author: Sara Paretsky

Published: June 30th 2020, HarperLuxe

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy HarperCollins/Edelweiss


My Thoughts:

Paretsky is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel with her female private investigator, V.I. Warshawski. I ‘discovered’ the series in the early nineties and instantly became a fan. The first book, Indemnity Only, was published in 1982, the latest instalment, titled Dead Land (book #20) was released earlier this year.

Love & Other Crimes is a collection of fourteen short stories, eight of which feature Warshawski, including one original story. Written over a period of about twenty years, the common thread is love.

“….we kill out of love—love of money, but also love of family, a desire to protect those for whom we feel responsible.”

If you aren’t familiar with Warshawski, this short story collection is a good introduction to her character. Vic was raised, lives and works in Chicago. Specialising in investigating white-collar crimes, she is often drawn into cases involving her friends, family or vulnerable persons who are victimised by corrupt politicians or greedy businessmen. She is smart, capable and dogged with a strong belief in justice and all these traits are on display in the stories in this collection.

Most of the other six short stories have appeared elsewhere, often in themed anthology’s or magazines, though I was familiar with none. Two of the stories pay homage to Paretsky’s own literary hero’s – Race Williams, who was the first of the hardboiled detectives, created by Carroll John Daly in 1923, Amelia Butterworth, an amateur detective created by American crime novelist Anna Katharine Green. I like that Paretsky includes a note for each story in the collection that reveals the purpose of, or motivation, for the title, it’s a welcome glimpse into her authorial process.

Somewhat surprisingly I enjoyed every story in this collection, though I remain partial to those which involved V.I. Warshawski, reminded of how what a great series it is, and to move Dead Land up my TBR list.


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