Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hardball-Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky
Putnam, Sep 22 2009, $26.95
ISBN 9780399155932

In Chicago, private investigator V.I. “Vic” Warshawski searches for a black man, Lamont Gadsden, who was last seen in 1967. Her inquiry into Gadsden leads her to her father’s police peers. They send her to the prison where gang leader Johnny Merton is a guest of the state. She defended him when she was a lawyer so he cooperates.

She soon finds Steve Sawyer, who vanished soon after a murder conviction. Vic’s investigation has her dig deeper into a peaceful 1966 civil rights march led by Martin Luther King; whites rioted and black female Harmony Newsome was murdered. As she digs deeper, someone wants the notorious decade left interred and to insure Vic cooperates, the antagonist kidnaps her twentyish cousin Petra.

The latest Vic investigative tale is a terrific entry as the heroine makes inquiries into a period of deep de facto and de jure racism that led to riots and murder, but though buried four decades ago and we have come a long way, the taint still remains impacting today. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as Vic’ cold case investigation leads to modern day issues and problems including danger from someone playing HARDBALL with her niece. Fans will enjoy Sara Paretsky’s strong Chicago joy ride back to the volatile sixties as seen through a current day lens.

Harriet Klausner