Windy City Blues
It’s strictly Friends & Family as V.I. Warshawski, “the detective mystery fans have been waiting for” (Time), makes return appearances in a collection of stories that brings new meaning to “ties that bind.” Decked out in her silk shirts and no-nonsense Attitude, V.I. is out to make a living—by the skin of her teeth.
In “Grace Notes,” V.I. has barely finished her morning coffee when she sees an ad in the paper asking for information abut her own mother, long dead. The paper leads V.I. to her newfound Italian cousin Vico, who’s looking for music composed by their great-grandmother. What’s the score? Clearly it’s something to kill for….“The Pietro Andromache” find V.I.’s friend Dr. Lotty Herschel with motive and means to dispatch her professional rival and steal his priceless statue. Lotty didn’t do it—but does she know who did? V.I. soon cuts to the art of the case—and it’s not a pretty picture at all!
In “Strung Out,” love means nothing and V.I.’s quick to learn the score as her old friend’s tennis-champion daughter is under suspicion for strangling her father with a racket string. And there’s more, nine stories in all, in this masterful collection of short fiction starring V.I. Warshawski.
Reviews and Quotes
No one, male or female, writes better P.I. books than Paretsky.
— The Denver Post
An intriguing look at Warshawski’s ancestral roots.
— Chicago Tribune
As one of the first authors to launch female detectives in the early 1980s, Sara Paretsky has made her trademark character, V.I. Warshawski, a gumshoe icon.
Tough, opinionated, aggressive and competent, V.I. —Vic to her friends—helped invigorate the sagging mystery genre to make the female detective as commonplace as her male counterpart.
Paretsky gives us a kinder, gentler V.I. in Windy City Blues, a collection of short stories written from 1982 to 1995. Instead of her favorite themes of corporate crime and corrupt politicians, Paretsky has the Chicago-based V.I. take a look at families, old friends, sibling rivality, shy neighbors and dogs.
Paretsky fans will recognize many tales from other short story collections and anthologies. But Windy City Blues is the first time Paretsky has compiled her own short stories on V.I. At times, Windy City Blues is better than Paretsky’s novels, which have complicated and at times convoluted plots. Windy City Blues reminds us what a good storyteller Paretsky is, capable of wrapping up a caper succinctly.
These excellently plotted stories also give new insight into nuances of V.I.’s personality and background. “Grace Notes,” created for this collection, is more sentimental than Paretsky has ever been before. V.I.’s Achilles’ heel has always been her deceased parents, especially her mother, who died of cancer at age 46. V.I. rediscovers her Italian heritage when a long-lost cousin seeks a libretto an ancestor might have written. The tough detective lets down her guard and acts naively when faced with a family she didn’t know existed.
V.I. steps away from the center of attention as Paretsky concentrates on the detective’s friend, Dr. Lotty Herschel, in “The Pietro Andromache.” Dr. Herschel is arrested after an arrogant surgeon is murdered at his home following a party. The two had been arguing over a priceless sculpture the murdered man owned, but which might have been stolen from Dr. Herschel’s grandmother during World War II.
Sibling rivalry turns grim in “At the Old Swimming Hole,” as Vic gets involved with an old friend. An acquaintance from high school and her daughter are involved in murder in “Strung Out,” which is set against a tennis tournament.
“Windy City Blues” also lets animals play heroes. A loyal golden retriever helps track down her mistress’ murderer in “Three-Dot Po,” while a purebred cat brings love to a lonely girl in “The Maltese Cat.”
— Fort Lauderdale Sentinel
IN THE PRESS
"Just plain marvelous." — Cosmopolitan