BLOOD SHOT by Sara Paretsky
Kirkus Star


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Paretsky (Bitter Medicine, etc.) is becoming the writer that Robert Parker used to be. Here, she juggles wisecracks, tenderness, and grit in a story that returns Chicago p.i. V.I. Warshawski to her southside roots--on a case that starts out small and personal and winds up catastrophically big, with possible fatalities in the thousands. When Caroline, whom V.I. always regarded as her little sister, asks V.I. to find out who her father was, the shamus reluctantly agrees. The likeliest possibilities, Steve Ferraro and Joey Pankowski, both worked at the same southside chemical plant as Caroline's mom, but when V.I. tries to pry their addresses from Personnel she's given the runaround--then inexplicably invited for cognac with the CEO, Gustave Humboldt, whose chitchat reveals that both men are dead; that a court of law denied their illnesses were work related; and that it might be healthier if V.I. stopped nosing into the matter. Soon Nancy Cleghorn, the environmental director of SCRAP (South Chicago ReAwakening Project), is found drowned in Dead Stick Pond; retired Humboldt Chemical physician Curtis Chigwell is attempting to burn his journals and commit suicide; Alderman Jurshak is clandestinely meeting gangster biggie Dresberg; his son is in hiding; V.I. is clobbered and dragged off to Dead Stick Pond in a sack; and Caroline's longed-for father turns out to be involved in an insurance fraud/cover-up with the chemical company regarding the dire effects of its cleaning solvent Xerxine. A strong indictment of gentlemen with sorry morals and old-time ward politics. Paretsky could not have written this one better.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0440204208
Page count: 392pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1988

Kirkus Interview
Sara Paretsky
author of BRUSH BACK
July 28, 2015

No one would accuse V. I. Warshawski of backing down from a fight, but there are a few she’d be happy to avoid. High on that list is tangling with Chicago political bosses. Yet that’s precisely what she ends up doing when she responds to Frank Guzzo’s plea for help in Brush Back, the latest thriller from bestselling author Sara Paretsky. For six stormy weeks back in high school, V.I. thought she was in love with Frank. He broke up with her, she went off to college, he started driving trucks for Bagby Haulage. She forgot about him until the day his mother was convicted of bludgeoning his kid sister, Annie, to death. Stella Guzzo was an angry, uncooperative prisoner and did a full 25 years for her daughter’s murder. Newly released from prison, Stella is looking for exoneration, so Frank asks V.I. for help. “Paretsky, who plots more conscientiously than anyone else in the field, digs deep, then deeper, into past and present until all is revealed,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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