DEADLOCK by Sara Paretsky


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Unlike Emma Lathen, Paretsky (Indemnity Only) doesn't quite have the gift for making convoluted business dealings lucid and lively; so this second outing for V. I. Warshawski, a female narrator/shamus in Chicago, is again more sturdy than gripping--with V. I. somewhat less agreeable company than she was in her debut. "Boom Boom" Warshawski, ex-hockey star and a recent employee at the Eudora Grain Co., has died in an "accident" on the Chicago waterfront, falling (?) off a pier. So his cousin V. I., suspecting foul play, is soon sleuthing around Eudora--and around the shipping companies it deals with. Had Boom Boom discovered some shady dealings involving a grain-company exec? Was a slimy shipping tycoon also involved? And what about local ballet-star Paige Carrington, who claims to have been Boom Boom's true love . . . but seems to have a sugar daddy elsewhere? More murders ensue: the security guard at Boom Boom's condo (apparently the victim of burglars in pursuit of incriminating papers); the top grain-company suspect. Then someone drains the brake fluid out of V.I.'s car. But, undaunted, she follows the the trail (a rather arbitrary one) to a Canadian port city, boarding a freight-ship just in time to survive a mid-lock explosion. And finally there's a long-drawn-out series of confrontations--one of them featuring more shipboard violence--between V.I. and each of the several, transparent villains. Just-passable corporate sleuthing overall--with okay shipping backgrounds, stiff dialogue, and the unengaging presence (sarcastic, weepy) of V. I. herself.
Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1983
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1983

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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