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Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel) Hardcover – September 22, 2009

131 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Paretsky tracks the poisonous residue of racial hatred that still seeps into Chicago life and politics in her fine 13th novel to feature gutsy PI V.I. Vic Warshawski, last seen in 2005's Fire Sale. In her search for a black man who disappeared in 1967, Lamont Gadsden, Vic reconnects with some of her father Tony's old police colleagues; pays a prison visit to Johnny Merton, a notorious gang leader she once defended in her lawyering days; and tracks down Steve Sawyer, who disappeared following a murder conviction. Vic confronts an ugly period in Chicago's history, a peaceful march in 1966 by Martin Luther King that resulted in a white riot and the murder of a young black woman, Harmony Newsome. Digging into this ancient history stirs passions and fears of what secrets might be revealed. The apparent kidnapping of Vic's fresh-out-of-college cousin, Petra, who's come to Chicago to work on a senatorial campaign, raises the ante. (Sept.)
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Sara Paretsky is on top form ... HARDBALL is a haunting novel, skilfully combining power politics and intensely personal events Joan Smith, Sunday Times 'HARDBALL is a standout ... an ambitious novel, layered in the grit of recent American racial history' National Public Radio, USA 'V.I. Warshawski, one of fiction's best female sleuths' Saga Within a racial melting pot, Paretsky hits her own personal best; HARDBALL takes the thinking woman's detective to a new level of excellence Financial Times Weekend 'The author's skill in tackling these topics [politics & feminism] in a subtle way is impressive, and the fact that she manages to couch it all in a breakneck-thriller plot is testament to her skill as a storyteller.' Big Issue on HARDBALL Paretsky has evoked - and celebrated - the multiplicity of Chicago's neighbourhoods, its old and new immigrants and its tragic history of race relations; and these years of America's financial and political decadence seem to have rekindled her passion for social justice. Times Literary Supplement HARDBALL is a big, chewy, old-fashioned yarn about a P.I. looking into a sprawling, decade-spanning web of police corruption. But when it's this entertaining, there's nothing wrong with that at all Metro Another hard hitting thriller by a doughty crusader Literary Review She is writing with the kind of passion for social justice that inspired Chandler and Hammett ... a narrative as gripping as it is emotionally wrenching. Joan Smith, The Sunday Times A strong, well-constructed novel, firmly founded in Chicago and its politics, past and present. Paretsky's plot combines racism, police corruption and family secrets - including Warshawski's - and the lost idealism of the 1960s provides a haunting backdrop. Some crime series grow stale over time, but there's no sign of fatigue here. This is partly because the recurring characters continue to develop and engage the reader, and partly because of the moral intelligence that informs the writing. Spectator Details are so rich and the dialogue so snappy that the mystery whizzes by. Guardian Packed with social themes and moral energy, held together by humor, compassion and sheer feistiness, this novel shows why Paretsky and her heroine are such enduring figure in American detective fiction Publishers Weekly (starred) With the creation of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky did more than anyone to change the face of contemporary women's fiction. Express on Sunday Tough, complex and moving, Paretsky is still at the top of her crowded genre. Bookseller The thing about Sara Paretsky is, she's tough ... she doesn't flinch from examining old social injustices others might find too shameful (and too painful) to dig up ... it's a distinct pleasure to hear her unapologetically strident voice once again The New York Times Paretsky seems incapable of writing a disappointing book. What she does consistently is to turn an unwavering gaze onto a nation's troubled history and equally troubled present. And she never loses sight of the fact that ordinary people are the victims of corruption and social injustive. Although it's much harder to pull off something astonishing in a longstanding private-eye series, Sara Paretsky manages to do just that in her new V.I. Warshawski novel The New York Times Notable Crime Book of 2009 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: V.I. Warshawski Novel
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155932
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Paretsky is the award-winning creator of the V I Warshawski detective novels. When Sara introduced V I in Indemnity Only in 1982, she revolutionized the mystery novel. By creating a female investigator who uses her wits as well a her fists, Sara challenged a genre in which women were traditionally either vamps or victims.

V I is the quintessential urban woman. She grew up in the shadow of the old steel mills on Chicago's Southeast side and knows her way around every alley in town. She's a street fighter, a singer, a bit of a clothes horse, and a woman of great intensity and passion.

So how much like V I is her creator? They certainly come from very different places. Sara grew up in rural Kansas where she attended a two-room school. She continues to believe the high point of her life came at the age of twelve when she was picked to play third base for the Kaw Valley District 95 baseball team.

Bleeding Kansas, Sara's 14th novel, is set in the part of the Kaw River Valley where Sara grew up.

Sara first came to Chicago in 1966 to do community service work in the same neighborhood where Martin Luther King was organizing. It was a time of fierce passions in the city and in the country as people fought over racial justice, the rights and wrongs of the war in Vietnam, and women's rights. Sara has always felt that that summer changed her life forever, and when she finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas, she came back to make Chicago her home. Some of the history of that summer is recounted in her essay collection, Writing in an Age of Silence.

Like V I, Sara likes to sing, in an amateur way, has a hopeless passion for the Cubs, loves Italian shoes'and is obsessed by the search for the perfect cappuccino, so much so that she even went to cappuccino school.

In other academic ventures, Sara received a PhD in American History and an MBA from the University of Chicago. In 1976, she married physics professor Courtenay Wright. The two live in the city of Chicago with their wonder dog Callie. Their lives are made brighter by their adored granddaughter, Maia.

Sara shares V I's passion for social justice. She founded Sisters in Crime in 1986 to support women readers and writers in the mystery world. To give back to the community, Paretsky established the Sara and Two C-Dogs Foundation, which primarily supports girls and women in the arts, letters, and sciences. She has endowed several scholarships at the University of Kansas, and has mentored students in Chicago's inner city schools. She serves on the advisory boards of Literature for All of Us, a literacy group for teen moms, and Thresholds, which serves Chicago's mentally-ill homeless.

Sara has received numerous awards, including the Diamond Dagger for Lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers Association, the Gold Dagger for best novel for her book Blacklist, and the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from several different universities. Sara's books have been translated into almost thirty languages.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 89 people found the following review helpful By ck TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's been four long years since Sara Paretsky's last V.I. Warshawski novel. In brief, Hardball was worth the wait. This is Paretsky's 13th novel featuring her memorable female private detective, and I found it one of the most satisfying.

I first "met" Warshawski on a redeye flight to Chicago for business as a change of pace from the usual work or travel reading as a different way to get to know a new destination. The detective's distinctive character and the insider's perspective of Chicago kept me alert through a long layover and wired rather than asleep even after I finished the book on the second flight. In the two decades since, I've sought out the other books in the series. Because of the subject matter, some of them can be very stark reading, but they are uniformly well crafted and thought-provoking.

This time around, the plot, subject matter and further fleshing out of the character of V.I. Warshawski were enough to place this novel in Paretsky's top three for me. Warshawski's drive, intelligence, work ethic and quirkiness make her a compelling protagonist. Her rough edges and temper make her human; and her relationships with supporting characters, such as her downstairs neighbor, feisty senior citizen Sal Contreras, make her credibly real.

Paretsky again weaves these elements into a novel both illuminating and powerful. She draws upon her own experience in and memories of the racially unsettled Chicago of 1966 to craft a mystery that also is a snapshot of those days. The author also uses the juxtaposition of 1966 and 2009 to flesh out more of Warshawski's own history, adding depth to her character and illuminating more of her childhood.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Butch VINE VOICE on July 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I rarely award five stars, but in this case it was a slam dunk.

In this episode, Vic Warshawski is begged by a pastor to find a man missing for forty years to comfort his loving aunt who is now dying. Vic soon suspects that the January 1967 disappearance is connected to a civil rights march that occurred in the summer of 1966. Meanwhile, on the personal side of life, Petra, a young (just of of college) cousin whom Vic has never met comes to town to work on a political campaign, and wants to get to know Vic.

Of course these threads ultimately overlap, and lead us back into the summer of 1966 and the civil rights movement. Scenes from past and present highlight what has and has not changed since then.

Ms. Paretsky has created a truly satisfying plot, where nothing is too obvious, the reader's guesses are not always right, and all the puzzle pieces fit beautifully. But for long-time fans, Vic's interaction with the live members of her family and thoughts about those who have died is the real treat. Vic is much less "together" than usual, and her pugnacious independence seems to be growing, as she ages, into a defensive shell hiding deep loneliness. Lacking any enduring pair bond and having few close friends, she spends an unhealthy amount of time mourning her long-dead father and mother. Her memories of her mother, especially, are compelling. Vic seems so real that I feel like sending her advice.

Finally -- Ms. Paretsky, should you happen to read these reviews, I thank you for making me feel that I am not the only person in America still mourning the loss of the hope and idealism of the '60s.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Kay VINE VOICE on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sara Paretsky just keeps getting better and better. Some authors of long-running series run out of steam but each new V.I. Warshawski book I read becomes my new favorite. This one is no exception.

If you are new to V.I. Warshawski, this is a really good book and you'll enjoy it. But you won't get all the nuances that you get when you've read enough of the series to "know" the characters. My suggestion is that you start at the beginning of the series (Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski Novels)) and read each of the books in order. If you've read any of my other reviews, you'll know I never take my own suggestions to always read a series in order, but I still think it is the best way to go.

One of the things I enjoy about this series is that Ms. Paretsky weaves social issues into a captivating mystery. This book is a prime example. In a year when we inaugurated our first black president, she brings us back to a time, sadly not all that long ago, when racial tensions resulted in violent protests and riots. The mechanism to bridge the years is a missing person case. V.I.'s search for a missing man brings her into the past and and the past threatens V.I.'s most cherished memories.

Family has always been a big part of V.I.'s life (even though it is mostly through memories) and regular readers know how much she loved her parents. In this book she gets to know some of her extended family members. There is an interesting contrast between the often brusque V.I. who doesn't generally stop to think about whether she's stomping all over someone's feelings and her bubbly young cousin who everyone adores at first meeting.
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