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Breakdown (V.I. Warshawski Novel) Hardcover – January 3, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews
Book 15 of 18 in the V.I. Warshawski Novels Series

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Editorial Reviews


'Both Paretsky and her sharp-tongued justice-seeker, V.I. Warshawski, remain formidable in the masterfully suspenseful fifteenth novel in this superb and adored Chicago-set series ...V.I. reigns as crime fiction's spiky, headstrong warrior woman of conscience, and Paretsky, classy champion of the powerless, has never been more imaginative, rueful, transfixing, and righteous.' Booklist, starred review Warshawski once more takes to the city's mean streets with a passion for justice that belies her age. Canberra Times 'Plotted with all Paretsky's customary generosity, this standout entry harnesses her heroine's righteous anger to some richly deserving targets, all linked together in a truly amazing finale.' Kirkus, starred review 'She is writing with the kind of passion for social justice that inspired Chandler and Hammett' Joan Smith, The Sunday Times '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' New York Times V.I. Warshawski was a trailblazing female P.I. when she first appeared in 1982, and she's only grown more compelling. She's honest, tough, loyal, incorruptible, sarcastic, fights for the underdog, gets into trouble and looks hot in a red cocktail dress and heels, even if she'd rather be in flats. What's not to love? Unputdownable. Herald Sun 'This year marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of V.I. Warshawski, and she has only grown more compelling over the years.' The Daily Telegraph 'After 12 Warshawski novels, Paretsky is still in strong form. She is also utterly up to date. It is, as ever, stirring stuff.' Sunday Age 'Paretsky mastered the conventions of her genre long ago and is able both to use them and to play with them simultaneously. Using these conventions as a framework, Paretsky tells a gripping tale in which the current craze among teens for romantic vampires is an essential part of her plot.' Pick of the Week, Sydney Morning Herald "Paretsky's action channels her champion's anger to some thoroughly justified targets woven together in a marvellous finale. V.I. Warshawski is still glib and feisty, though slowing down at 50. Nice to see her ageing, though still very active and passionate about social inequity. Paretsky pulls it off with flair." Manly Daily "Paretsky tells a gripping tale." Bendigo Advertiser "V.I. Warshawski returns and there's no shortage of intrigue. A typically taut thriller against a backdrop of politics, power and the darkness of the past. Absorbing." The Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin Now in her 50s, the Chicago PI is as brusque, smart and determined as ever. She was a ground-breaker when she first appeared in the 1980s; now she's tried and true but no less exciting ... Paretsky has made no secret of her support for those on the margins of society and her dislike of the right, and here there are too-close-for-comfort portraits of shock jocks and politicians stirring hate while claiming patriotism. I think I'd read about V. I. Warshawski even if there weren't a murder to be solved. The Age Paretsky's action channels her champion's anger to some thoroughly justified targets woven together in a marvellous finale. V.I. Warshawski is still glib and feisty. Central Coast Express Advocate --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sara Paretsky is the author of eighteen books, including her renowned V. I. Warshawski novels. She was named 2011 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, and is also the recipient of the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award given by the British Crime Writers' Association. She lives in Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Series: V.I. Warshawski Novel
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399157832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157837
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luanne Ollivier on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Picking up the latest Sara Paretsky book is like sitting down with an old friend to hear a new story. Paretsky penned her first book featuring private investigator V.I. Warshawski in 1982. Nearly thirty years later, the newly released Breakdown is the fifteenth book in this long running series.

V.I. receives a frantic call from her cousin Petra late one night - a group of girls holding a initiation ceremony based on their favourite author's vampire books get more than they bargained for when they stumble across a corpse - staked through the heart. And these aren't just any teens - they're the offspring of some of Chicago's wealthiest and politically powerful families. Rescuing the girls makes V.I. late for a meeting with her old friend Leydon Ashford. By the time V.I. makes their meeting, it's too late - either troubled Leydon has jumped from a balcony or she was pushed. In a coma, she is unable to let anyone know what happened. As V.I. decides to investigate further into both of these seemingly disparate occurrences, she is warned off - by more than one party. Of course, that only fuels V.I.'s fire....

What has made this such an enduring series? V.I. has aged and her life has progressed in real time. She was a character I liked from the first book and my opinion hasn't changed. She's true to her principles and beliefs, always with an eye towards justice. Now, that's not to say that she won't bend the rules just a bit to get the results she needs. And she's tough, having taken more than her fair share of hard knocks. But she gives as good as she gets. She says what she thinks, she's smart, loyal and someone you'd want on your side. "...sometimes you are so single-minded in your search for answers that you don't always think of the consequences.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sara Paretsky is an excellent writer of popular fiction - as her sales will attest - but she is also a novelist who combines good writing with an examination of topical subjects. Most novelists will not try to tackle today's social problems but the reader always knows Paretsky's social views by reading her books.

Paretsky's newest novel, "Breakdown", is an examination of how right-wing radio and politicians affect American society. It's an edgy book, with a Glenn Beck-like TV and radio commentator stirring up hatred for illegal aliens and Jews and blacks on a Fox News-like network. And a Sarah Palin-like female politician who looks to lock down the votes of like-minded Illinois voters in a US Senate race. She's running against a black woman and she and the radio host come out with racial epitaphs that might be disturbing to the reader. It's sort of Fox-News-on-steroids.

But if racial and other bigotry is part of the story, then Paretsky's heroine "VI Warshawski" is the other part. Maybe a little old at 50 to do the dangerous physical work and sustaining the hits she does, Warshawski remains the center of the story and the personalities she's involved in. The story, which is set in current day Chicago, brings in everything from the Holocaust to the above mentioned right-wing politics, to several murders, much of it with a mental health facility connection. The old favorites from Paretsky's previous books are back - Mr Conteras, cousin-Petra,and the dogs of the household are just a few of the old friends we meet in a new story.

"Breakdown" is a terrific book; Paretsky's done herself proud with the newest. But it is her most overtly "political" and might be too much so to a reader looking for a "light" read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then my politics and sympathies are right in tune with Paretsky's.
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By Ginger ALE on February 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw this at a B&N and snapped it up........no worries right? I started it &by page 48 I was thinking.....this is very complicated and not very interesting but maybe I'm tired and should try again later. When the character of Leydon was introduced the story did pick up but then........it just kept clunking along & by the time I was about half-way thru I just didn;t care anymore. What a disappointment! This novel is not bad but it is not good. It goes into attack media, political dysfunction, the lack of good mental health options/health care in this country, immigration issues,tweens & the vampire craze ....it is just TOO much and OH....there's a murder mystery or 2 to be solved. I'm a liberal so I wasn't offended by Ms Paretsy's rants about the right but the main evil-doer is SO over the top that he is both unbelievable and easily dismissed as a complete kook. But my main complaint is that the book did not hold my interest.I skipped to the end to see who did what (and it didn;t surprise me that it required quite a number of pages to explain the story line!)& then I was glad to pick up my next book. I have enjoyed Ms paretsky's books for years and will read her next one but I do hope she keeps it simpler and more interesting.I understand her desire to make her points but V.I. comes across as shrill, bitter & intolerant instead of smart, experienced & world weary.
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A new Paretsky book is a red letter day. Yet though this one is far better than "Body Work" it is not one of her best. It takes too long to really get going - but once it does, it becomes umputdownable. As usual Paretsky brings her social conscience to bear, and one would hope her description of the media is a litte overdone. However the dialogue is crisp, the story well crafted (except for the ending, which defies logic)the villains are villainous enough, V.I gets her usual bashing but gets the job done and a nice bonus too. Can't wait for the next installment....
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