Saturday, January 9, 2010

(Sara Paretsky) This week: Temperance Brennan and V.I. Warshawski are back

From The Globe and Mail (Toronto) --

This week: Temperance Brennan and V.I. Warshawski are back --

By Margaret Cannon --
Sep. 18, 2009 --

By Sara Paretsky, Putnam, 464 pages, $33.50

Sara Paretsky's detective, V.I. Warshawski, has had some completely impenetrable storylines to follow. But Hardball isn't one of those. Fixing her sights firmly on the civil liberties that the Bush administration snatched away from Americans in the name of “the war on terror,” Paretsky is on a roll.

It all begins as Vic takes on a pro bono case. The chaplain for a local home for the aged has asked her to find out whatever became of a man named Lamont Gadsden. He has been gone for more than 40 years, but his aunt, a woman of great faith, has never given up hope that he'd be found.

Now she's dying, and all she wants is to find out what became of her beloved nephew before she dies. There's no money and not much in the way of thanks, but she's going to give the old, cold case a good try. How this small tragedy leads Vic to conspiracy, abuse of power, murder and her own near-death is what Hardball is all about.

I love Warshawski and respect Paretsky, but I must say this book has a major flaw. That's the irritating and totally unbelievable young woman Paretsky uses to focus the plot. Petra Warshawski, Vic's twentysomething niece from St. Louis, is dim and ditzy. Nothing from her lingo to her motives works. When she disappeared, I hoped she'd turn up dead, but no such luck. It's great to have V.I. back, but Petra should take a hike.

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