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Fallout: A V.I. Warshawski Novel (V.I. Warshawski Novels) Hardcover – April 18, 2017
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“Fallout is the best yet in one of our genre’s crucial, solid-gold, best-ever series. Paretsky is a genius, and she’s never afraid to dig a little deeper.” (Lee Child)
“Sara Paretsky is a legend, and Fallout is her finest novel to date- -- an extraordinary read from an extraordinary author. If you haven’t read her yet, now is the time.” (Harlan Coben)
“V.I. Warshawski is one of my all-time favorite investigators. Doesn’t get any better than this!” (Lisa Gardner)
“Even out of her Chicago comfort zone in pursuit of a faded missing actress and a young filmmaker in Fallout, legendary V.I. Warshawski is as dogged and ferocious as ever. So is Sara Paretsky, who is at the top of her crime novel game.” (C.J. Box)
“Simply superb! As a fan of V.I. Warshawski from the very beginning, I can say without a doubt that Fallout finds both author and protagonist at the top of their games.” (Jeffery Deaver)
“An astonishing tour de force -- thrilling, moving, illuminating -- from an author of matchless intelligence, craft, and power. This is why Sara Paretsky reigns as one of the all-time greats.” (Karin Slaughter)
“A road trip with V.I. Warshawski? Sign me up! What a thrill to join her on a missing-persons hunt that quickly turns dark and dangerous. Sara Paretsky’s legendary P.I. is at the top of her game. Everyone will want to go along for this ride.” (Tess Gerritsen)
“Fallout is exactly what it promises: proof that so much of the pain in our present is from mistakes in our past. This book has a soul. Come see a master at work.” (Brad Meltzer)
“Writing advance praise for Sara Paretsky is like writing a job recommendation for Bill Gates. Paretsky is the gold standard for novels dealing with crime and its consequences.” (Charlaine Harris)
“For me, the most remarkable of the moderns is Sara Paretsky. ...No other crime writer has so powerfully and effectively combined a well-crafted detective story with the novel of social realism.” (P.D. James)
From the Back Cover
Before there was Lisbeth Salander, before there was Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. Warshawski.
For more than three decades, Sara Paretsky has entertained millions of readers with her acclaimed series starring investigator V.I. Warshawski. One of the greatest mystery writers of all time, Paretsky has been honored with virtually every major award in the genre and has earned praise from critics, fans, and fellow authors alike. P.D. James proclaimed, “No other crime writer has so powerfully and effectively combined a well-crafted detective story with the novel of social realism.”
In Fallout, Paretsky takes her hero—Victoria Iphigenia by birth, V.I. by profession, and Vic to her friends—on her very first case out of Chicago, when the hunt for a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star leads her to Kansas. Accompanied by her dog, V.I. tracks the pair through a university town, across fields dotted with Cold War—era missile silos . . . and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions. She hopes her search will yield the key to the mysteries of the present, but every answer V.I. finds unveils another puzzling question—and leads to more dead bodies. And in her most baffling case to date, not even the seasoned V.I. is safe.
Suspenseful and provocative, witty and intelligent, Fallout finds Sara Paretsky and V.I. Warshawski working at the height of their powers.
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It keeps moving down the road, leaving characters behind, as it meanders through developing the plot line, if you can call it that. One of the 2 characters that introduce the story, never shows up again.
I get that Sara Paretsky was looking to write about Lawrence, Kansas, and KU, where her father was on the faculty, but that doesn't excuse such a dreadful plotting exercise. Didn't her editors question it? Then there's the most annoying character SP ever introduced: The spoiled, selfish, headstrong, obnoxious to the bone, Bernie, whose sole attachment to Vic is her dad was cousin Boom-Boom's best friend in the NHL. And, no, Northwestern doesn't have either a men's or women's ice hockey team.(nusports.com). On top of it, Bernie lies to her parents when she promises not to repeat her actions.
But the real key to a failed novel of any sort is wrapping up all the plot thread lines in a few sentences or pages. It's like 3/4 of the novel was written and the author didn't have time to write the last 25%.
I've been making these periodic visits to Warshawski-World since the 1980s when Sara Paretsky started this series. Paretsky, Warshawski, and I have aged together through the years. There are a few more gray hairs among the blonde on Warshawski's head these days and, if the truth be told, on mine as well.
But Warshawski is still the wiry, fit detective that we first met in Indemnity Only all those years ago. And she's still the same indomitable, uncompromising seeker after truth that we've come to know and admire in that and all the subsequent seventeen V.I. books. She only gets better with age and experience.
In Fallout, V.I. leaves the comfort zone that she knows so well, Chicago, and heads out to Lawrence, Kansas, searching for an actress and a videographer who have disappeared there. The actress is Emerald Ferring, who grew up (as did Sara Paretsky) in Lawrence, and the young videographer is August Veriden, who is a cousin of Angela Creedy, a teammate of Bernadine Fouchard, goddaughter of V.I. who we met in Brush Back. Got all that?
Bernadine (Bernie) and Angela want V.I. to go to Lawrence to find the two who have gone missing and Vic finds a paying customer willing to make it worth her while to take the case. And so she makes the drive to Lawrence with her dog, Peppy, as company. (Her other dog, Mitch, gets to stay in Chicago, and be boarded.)
Lawrence proves to be a close-knit, close-mouthed community with a racial divide. African-Americans live mostly on one side of town while white people live on the other. The two people that Vic is looking for are African-American and she finds Kansans very suspicious of her and hesitant to share any information. Moreover, she has no resources in Kansas to fall back on. Even the local police seem unwilling to cooperate in any way in looking for Emerald and August.
The body count begins to mount and Vic uncovers some local secrets that everyone would prefer remained secret, including information about biochemical weapons research that was conducted in the county back in the 1950s. She discovers a right-wing militia group that is active in the area, as well government officials who may be trying to cover up a disaster that took place during the biochemical weapons research. But she's making no progress on finding her missing persons.
Meanwhile, on the personal front, her lover Jake, the jazz musician, is touring in Europe and wanted Vic to go with him. When she went to Kansas instead, he was seriously put out and it looks as though the relationship may not survive. Poor Vic! She never did have very good luck with men.
This is one of Paretsky's more complicated plots, but she never falters and it all comes together and makes sense in the end. And as always, there are clues strewn through the text for the sharp-eyed reader. I was right there with her all the way through, enjoying every minute of the story. This may be my favorite of all the Warshawski books. If not, it's right near the top.
Short review: read it.
Sara Paretsky has once again written an excellent mystery. This stand-alone is easy to follow and difficult to put down. Some violence, no drag-you-down drama.
Compelling, realistic storyline with descriptive writing. Several twists throughout that keep the reader's interest.
Believable characters with distinct personalities. Thought-provoking, informative and memorable dialogue.
'Chicago’s mayor and city council would go berserk if they found out there were towns in America that offered free parking in the heart of their downtowns. How could they overlook such a perfect opportunity to gouge the citizenry?'
“It will give me something to do, something concrete. Otherwise I will sit here playing what Dr. Roque always said was a loser’s game: ‘should have, would have, could have, did not.’”
I may re-read this story and always look forward to works by this author.