Chicago investigator V.I. Warshawski (Hardball, 2009, etc.) struggles to clear an Iraq War vet charged with murder.
V.I. Warshawski goes to Club Gouge to catch the Renaissance Raven, a hurdy-gurdy player who’s a friend of her bassist boyfriend Jake Thibault. But the main act is the real eye-catcher. Dressed only in paint primer, the Body Artist invites members of the audience to cover her with their personal masterpieces. Two of the eager Rembrandts catch Vic’s attention. Night after night Nadia Guaman paints the face of a beautiful, curly-haired woman on the Artist’s torso, while a thug named Rodney decorates her backside with a series of numbers. The portrait enrages Chad Vishneski, still reeling from seeing his patrol massacred on the road to Kufah. So when Nadia is shot outside the club, the police go after Chad, only to find that he overdosed. Even though he may not emerge from a coma, Chad’s parents hire Vic to prove he’s innocent. Vic’s not so sure, until she learns that Nadia’s older sister Alexandra was killed in Iraq while working for defense contractor Tintrey. Her conspiracy instincts working overtime, Vic tries to connect the dead contractor to the angry soldier. She finds a family afraid even to mention their dead daughter’s name, a woman shamed by her own sexuality, and a performer who bares all in public but leaves no trace in private.
Paretsky plays out her trademark political and social themes not with rhetoric, but with a compelling story of lives shattered by pride, greed and fear of the unknown.