Critical Mass

Here’s the synopsis of VI’s next adventure

Vienna in the 1930’s was both an exciting and a terrifying place to be a woman doing physics. Exciting because the Institute for Radium Research offered women opportunities that no lab before or since has provided. Terrifying because although the Nazi party was outlawed, pro-Nazi sentiment ran high. For a woman who was also a Jew, political events could spell the end not just of her career, but her life.Stairwell at the IRF, Vienna

Sara Paretsky at the entryway to the IRF, Vienna

Sara Paretsky at the entryway to the IRF, Vienna

Critical Mass tells the story of one such woman scientist, Martina Saginor, a (fictitious) physicist who disappeared in the slave labor camps of World War II. Thanks to the Kindertransport, Martina’s only child, Kitty, made it to safety in England in 1939; after the war she resettled in Chicago.

Kitty’s story is closely twined with that of another Viennese refugee, Dr. Lotty Herschel, the friend and confidante of Chicago private eye VI Warshawski. When Martina’s tortured history  starts coming to light in contemporary Chicago, Lotty turns to V I for help. In Critical Mass, the secrets of the bomb, of the Second World War, and of the human heart take VI on a quest from Chicago’s premier science labs to the Viennese ghetto where Lotty and Martina were forced to live. The journey across present and past makes V I a moving target for powerful figures who’d like to see the past stay dead and buried.

Critical Mass Cover

Critical Mass will be published by Putnam’s on October 22.

  • Cricriyom from Paris

    … October the 22nd is soooooooooooooooooooo far away !
    Sigh …
    Hard to wait !

  • JoAnn Welsh

    Wow…I can’t wait to read this.

  • Thank you both for your kind comments. Cricriyom, wish I could come to Paris to do a reading! So sad that Village Voice is gone.

  • Kathy D.

    I’m so glad to hear another V.I. Warshawski novel is coming out. I haven’t missed one yet and drive my library branch staff nuts bugging them about when the next book is coming in.
    I don’t like to read about WWII horrors, try to avoid this theme, but for V.I., I think I’ll waive my rules and read it, and I’m sure, it’ll be fine and at least it the book’s ending will not be about horrors but about resolution and life moving forward.
    Thank you for so many glorious reading hours over the years. Hope that you, V.I., Mr. Contreras, Lotty and others keep on going for years more.

  • Stephanie Battles

    Glad to hear about the new book coming in October. Critical Mass can’t come out soon enough. Just before my kidney transplant I read your first VI book. Today almost three months later I am just starting your latest VI book. I have read and enjoyed each of the books as I read them all.


  • slmom

    Looking forward to reading this!! Enjoy All your books.

  • Franco Gorchos

    Critical Mass was great. Hate to be picky , but UICC became UIC thirty years ago. As a Circle alumnus, I’m glad you remember the University of Illinos at Chicago has had a number of names. Alumni from the Navy Pier and the Medical Center are equally proud of their place in Chicago’s history.


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