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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.

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