Archive for June, 2015

Sara interviews with the London Times’ Crime Club

Friday, June 26th, 2015

crime club pic copyIn their new crime fiction monthly newsletter,  The London Times’ Crime Club asks Sara about V I, where she came from, and how she’s changed over the years.  Read the interview here.

Sara interviews with Crime Club, the new London Times crime fiction newsletter

Friday, June 26th, 2015

criminal tendencies interview

Boom-Boom Warshawski Makes his Chicago Blackhawk debut

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Stanley Cup playoffs, Blackhawks and Lightning tied at two games each. How Boom-Boom Warshawski, Blackhawk star as well as VI’s cousin and closest childhood friend, would have loved to be in the middle of the fight!

My second novel, Deadlock, introduced Boom-Boom, although he sadly entered the series as a murder victim.

Deadlock, a V I Warshawski novel

Deadlock, a V I Warshawski novel

Over the years, VI has often thought about Boom-Boom and recalled some of their more hair-raising adventures together. In Brush Back, on sale out in July, Boom-Boom plays a major part of the backstory. I originally had planned to open the novel with a flashback to his Blackhawk debut, but as the story worked out, I had to remove that opening chapter. (By the way, you can pre-order Brush Back now by following the link.)

With Stanley Cup mania going on, I thought it might be fun to share this outtake chapter with you:

Blackhawks win Stanley Cup

Blackhawks win Stanley Cup




Up near the rafters the noise shook our bones. We were on our feet, slamming our chair seats up and down, stomping, screaming, whistling.

“Boom Boom!” slam. “Boom Boom!” slam. “Boom Boom.”

The foghorn under the scoreboard bellowed. Down below us, on the ice, my cousin raised his stick from the middle of the scrum, then skated to our side of the rink. Of course he couldn’t see us, with the stadium lights in his eyes, but he bowed in our direction.

Frank Guzzo hugged me so hard we both almost toppled into the seats below us. Mayhem in the Madhouse on Madison: Boom Boom’s first game as a Blackhawk, his first goal, his first victory.

Frank shouted something at me, but I couldn’t hear it, even with his lips near my ear. I screamed back, but our words were swallowed by the sound. The old Chicago Stadium, decibel level around 130 on average, up to 300 when all noise-makers were turned on.

Old Chicago Stadium where Boom-Boom (and MJ, and Bobby Hull) played

Old Chicago Stadium where Boom-Boom (and MJ, and Bobby Hull) played

We followed the rest of the crowd down the steeply-banked stairs and went to wait by the player exit. It was April, near the end of the regular season, a warm enough night that none of us put our jackets on. My dad and his brother Bernie were grinning at each other like teenagers and the rest of us were teenagers, or near enough.

Boom Boom had spread tickets around like confetti, to me (of course) and his folks and my dad, his best friend Frank Guzzo, even to some of his lumpy cousin’s on his mother’s side. Another couple of dozen people from the neighborhood had paid their own way: this was going to be a night to tell their grandchildren about: I was there when Boom Boom Warshawski scored the winning goal against the Flyers.

Boom Boom had even given Frank a ticket for his sister Annie, who was still in high school.

“I don’t know where she is,” Frank said, when I asked. “I just drove in from Nashville for the game. You remembered to get the ticket to her, right? You haven’t become so snooty at Red U that you forgot your old pals, have you?”

Red U. That was an old insult for the University of Chicago, dating to the Nineteen-fifties, the McCarthy era, long before my time on the quads. It’s what all our neighbors called it in South Chicago, though, and it added to the hostility toward my mother when they learned she had her heart set on my studying there.

I punched Frank in the ribs. “I’m slumming with you, aren’t I? I hand-delivered the tickets. Your mom said Annie wasn’t home so I left the envelope with her, okay?”

“Warshawski!” Frank saw my cousin before the rest of us. “You dang hotdog, you. You trying to upstage the Golden Jet?”

Boom Boom laughed. “No way, man. Lucky shot. Not like that homer of yours against Nashville on Monday.”

“Yeah, speaking of which, I gotta head out now. I’m already running a ninety-dollar fine for being AWOL, can’t make it two days in a row.”

Boom Boom walked across the parking lot to Frank’s car with him, tripping on the deep grooves in the gravel. “Your turn’s coming, Frankie, your turn’s coming. When they call your name in the starting line-up at Wrigley, I’ll be there hollering, you’d better believe it. Thanks for making the trip up here, man.”

Frank Guzzo, Boom Boom Warshawski—they were the biggest stars of my neighborhood. When they graduated high school three years earlier, the school held a day in their honor. They were given special plaques, they got to choose the menu in the cafeteria, the gym was renamed the “Guzzo-Warshawski Gym.”

All over this city, poor kids dream of becoming sports legends, but Boom Boom and Frank were the rare boys who got to live the fantasy, Boom Boom on ice, Frank in baseball. Two years after Boom Boom’s debut—when my cousin had already turned into a legend of sorts—Frank was called up to Wrigley Field. The same crowd that had gone to see Boom Boom turned up for Frank.

All those hardcore White Sox fans who’d sooner spit than say “Ernie Banks” made the long L-ride north to cheer the home boy. I was in my first year of law school then, but I blew off a paper to join my dad, Boom Boom, my dad’s police buddies, and my uncle Bernie in the bleachers.

VI and Sara in front of Wrigley Field

VI and Sara in front of Wrigley Field

His third game at Wrigley, Frank’s turn ended. The Cardinal second baseman, leaping to get the catcher’s throw, came down hard on Frank as he was sliding into second. The Cardinal’s cleats ripped muscle from bone. Frank had a half dozen surgeries, two years of rehab. When they were finished with him, Frank still had an arm better than anyone on the south side, but nowhere near good enough for Major League ball.

Cardinals v Cubs

Cardinals v Cubs

My cousin’s been dead a lot of years now and so has my dad. I don’t hear news from my old neighborhood very often and I’d almost forgotten Frank. Until the day he walked into my office.



Brush Back receives 3 starred pre-publication reviews

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Brush Back has received four glowing pre-publication reviews, including three starred reviews—not an easy feat. Pre-order and read an excerpt now and to find out for yourself what makes Brush Back V I’s most thrilling installment yet.

Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Boxed Review)

South Chicago provides the setting for MWA Grand Master Paretsky’s electrifying 18th novel featuring PI V.I. “Vic” Warshawski (after 2013’s Critical Mass). Vic thought she had left her old neighborhood—and her former teenage flame, Frank Guzzo—years ago, until he approaches her with a sensitive issue: his mother, Stella, just finished 25 years in prison for murdering Frank’s younger sister, Annie, and she’s now proclaiming her innocence. Reluctant to get involved—Stella always hated the Warshawski family—Vic agrees to look into the matter, but is floored when Stella accuses the detective’s beloved late cousin and Chicago hockey legend Boom-Boom (who was murdered in 1984’s Deadlock) of having a hand in Annie’s murder. Determined to clear Boom-Boom’s name, Vic throws herself into the investigation, which takes her into the murky political waters of her former stomping ground, with its back channels leading to the state’s highest echelons of power. Paretsky never shies from tackling social issues, and in this installment she targets political corruption without ever losing sight of her dogged sleuth’s very personal stake in the story.

Booklist (Starred Review)

In an unlikely moment of sentimentality, Chicago private investigator V. I. Warshawski grudgingly agrees to spend a few hours investigating the possibility that her old friend Frank Guzzo’s mother, Stella, was wrongfully convicted of murdering her daughter, Annie, 25 years ago. Stella, a nasty piece of work known for battering her children and slandering V. I.’s mother at every opportunity, punches V. I. at their first meeting, and Vic resolves to dump the case. But, then, Stella makes public claims that Annie’s long-lost diary implicates V. I.’s beloved hockey-star cousin, Boom Boom Warshawski, in her murder. No way is V. I. going to let those accusations stand, and she’s off fishing for new evidence from those involved in Annie’s case. As intrepid and tenacious as she was in the series’ first novels, V. I. battles the circled wagons of the tight-knit South Side Chicago neighborhood in which she grew up, which ultimately reveals

a satisfyingly complex story of decades-old murder, family loyalties, dirty politics, and gangsters. A certain summer hit, this robust series entry harkens back to the outstanding Fire Sale (2005), which also returned V. I. to her roots. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: V. I. Warshawski remains one of the most-loved characters in crime fiction, and this episode, drawing as it does on Warshawski’s personal history, will be of particular interest to fans looking for backstory.

Library Journal (Starred Review)

Paretsky’s latest V.I. Warshawski novel (after Critical Mass) finds our intrepid Chicago private investigator doing a favor for old high school boyfriend Frank Guzzo. Back in the South Side neighborhood, the Warshawski clan and the Guzzos have a long-standing and seemingly inexplicable feud, but V.I. reluctantly agrees to look into an unlikely claim that Stella, Frank’s mother, was framed for the bludgeoning death of her daughter Annie 25 years ago. But Stella’s tactics turn on the Warshawski family, and V.I.’s famous cousin, Boom Boom, is implicated in the case on the word of a volatile and still violent 80-year-old woman. Against her better judgment, V.I. pursues the case, raising the hackles of her lawyer, her reporter friend who relies on her tips, and an assortment of friends and family readers have come to know. VERDICT Paretsky’s novels are never boring, but this one is particularly well executed, combining family and city history with local political intrigue and a jaunt into the tunnels under Wrigley Field. The author’s many fans won’t be let down, while readers new to the series will be able to follow the story line without difficulty.

Kirkus Reviews

V.I. Warshawski (Critical Mass, 2013, etc.) takes on the most thankless task of her career: reopening a 25-year-old murder case on behalf of a convicted defendant who hates the sight of her. When trucker Frank Guzzo, who was once V.I.’s high school boyfriend, tells her that his mother, Stella, claims she was framed now that she’s been released after doing a quarter-century for beating Frank’s sister, Annie, to death, V.I.’s main reaction is skepticism. Who knows if Annie was really still alive when Stella left her to play bingo? In the end, though, she agrees to ask around, and the first person she questions is Stella. She quickly learns that Stella still blames V.I.’s mother, Gabriella, Annie’s piano teacher, for turning her daughter against her, and V.I.’s late cousin, hockey star Boom-Boom Warshawski, for ruining Frank’s chances of playing with the Cubs. She also learns that Stella swings one mean fist. Clearly this isn’t a client she can work with. But every attempt she makes to extricate herself from this sticky case enmeshes her more closely with all Paretsky’s trademark complications—bullying cops, crooked politicians, long-simmering resentments, buried secrets avid to spring back to murderous life—and she’s haunted by Stella’s contemptuous charge that “you want this to be about my family, but you won’t admit that it’s really about yours.” A healthy dose of present-day murder drives home the urgency of V.I.’s quest. Tension spikes when Boom-Boom’s goddaughter, hockey player Bernadine Fouchard, who’s been staying with V.I., goes missing. Paretsky, who plots more conscientiously than anyone else in the field, digs deep, then deeper, into past and present until all is revealed. The results will be especially appealing to baseball fans, who’ll appreciate the punning chapter titles and learn more than they ever imagined about Wrigley Field.


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June 2015