In her fifth V.I. novel, Sara Paretsky brings the private investigator back to her old neighborhood and to the past she cannot escape.
Blood Shot begins innocently enough when V.I. attends the reunion of her championship basketball team and Caroline, a childhood friend who organized the event, asks V.I. a professional favor: “Find my father for me.”
Caroline’s mother is dying, and Caroline wants to meet the father she has never known. The search for him not only calls up memories of V.I.’s own childhood but quickly mushrooms into something darker. After V.I. starts to probe, the body of another old friend turns up in the appropriately named Dead Stick Pond.
Who would want Nancy Cleghorn dead? The list of suspects includes everyone from a powerful alderman to the chairman of a great chemical conglomerate. And what is the connection between Nancy’s death and the search for Caroline’s father?
Moving across Chicago from its decaying industrial districts to its posh Gold Coast, V.I. uncovers a network of corruption. The deeper V.I. digs, the murkier things get, until she finds herself at the mercy of malevolent forces completely beyond her control.
With Blood Shot, Sara Paretsky proves once again why her heroine, V.I. Warshawski, “is the detective many mystery fans have been waiting for” (Newsweek) and why, since her appearance on the mystery scene, detective fiction has never been quite the same.
Reviews and Quotes
With tight character studies, grim, emotionally charged urban backdrops…Sara Paretsky continues to extend the distance between herself and other mystery writers.
— Peter L. Robinson, Chicago
Sara Paretsky is daring: in her fifth V.I. Warshawski mystery, she risks making her popular heroine, Chicago’s tenderest hard-boiled private investigator, less likable. The result: her best book yet.
The fifth and finest in Paretsky’s praised series…is a gripping, entertaining story.
— Publishers Weekly
Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski is…at once the most endearing and most irritating private eye in today’s mystery fiction. She’s full of wisecracking cussedness and vulnerability, and her sandpapery tenderness just gets better with each novel Sara Paretsky turns out.
— Henry Kisor, Sun-Times (Chicago)
A wonderful book that vividly brings alive ‘the Region,’ that brutal, unpretty industrial area bordering Chicago, and the proud, stubborn people that live there.
— The Miami Herald
…Sara Paretsky’s square-jawed private eye, V.I. (Vic) Warshawski, has to grit her teeth, in her fifth adventure, to take the long road home to south Chicago. For one thing, Route 41 from the city’s North Side is no picturesque memory lane: Wisconsin Steel is closed down, USX South Works is on strike, the Calumet River is rank with pollution, and all those neglected bungalows expose the shame and depression of their unemployed owners. “I could remember when eighteen thousand men poured from those tidy little homes very day,” she reminds herself, “when each piece of trim was painted fresh every second spring and new Buicks or Oldsmobiles were an autumn commonplace.”
…The corporate malfeasance that ultimately comes to light proves broad-scaled enough to suit Ms. Paretsky’s blunt prose and earnest delivery. (Describing the “large dark strokes” of her detective’s handwriting, the author virtually identifies her own literary hand). The nature of the crime is also sufficiently heinous to validate her detective’s fierce moral outrage. “I’m looking at such an incredible display of cynicism that every time I think of it I get consumed by rage,” fumes Warshawski, who has a temper that could bend cutlery.
The author characteristically fuels her sociologically informed mysteries with such anger, inviting the reader to share her outrage over corporate America’s profit-dictated cynicism toward workers, products and the environment. While splendid, her detective’s ethical fulminations are only one side of her firebrand personality. More self-destructive is the abrasive, intractable and unforgiving side of her nature, which she tends to confuse with an independent character. (“You have a way of destroying people’s tender feelings, kiddo” is the inelegant but insightful way one admirer puts it.) By sending Warshawski back into the old neighborhood for a closer look at events from the past that helped to shape her character, Ms. Paretsky forces no great self-revelations onto her detective and grants her no inner peace. But she does her best and boldest work to date in creating a criminal investigation that is a genuine heroic quest.
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times
IN THE PRESS
"Purely and simply, this is a splendid whodunit." — Chicago Sun-Times