Monday, June 2, 2014

Paretsky's Orders

A startling event happened after reading the third book in Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski hard-boiled P.I. series--I wasn't overwhelmed by her normally convoluted mystery set up.  This go-round it revolved around stock certificates and thoughtful correlations between the Chicago mob and the Catholic church.  However, let me push aside the latter two to focus on the stock certificates ingredient.  Oh, and how that mixed into stock shares, securities, bond markets, and other sprinkled financial components.  While I am exaggerating, I do have to say that the subject matter in Killing Orders was handled a lot less intricately than the subjects of Paretsky’s previous two offerings, which entertained insurance fraud [Indemnity Only] the Chicago shipping industry [Deadlock].  Some may get what Paretsky is laying down the first time, but for me, I had to study the topics her P.I. delved into to understand and follow what’s unfolding in her books.  Especially because her topics pertain so closely to her murder mystery.  Luckily, Killing Orders was the easiest of the three to follow.

It all began when St. Albert’s Priory decided to retrieve their stock certificates to cash in for a new roof.  Unfortunately, those stock certificates turned out as fakes.  So naturally, the church’s treasurer member is taken to task.  Said treasurer happens to be V. I. Warshawski’s nasty, venom-dribbling great-aunt, Rosa.  And she's a woman who has held a grudge worth a millennium against V. I.--or specifically, V.I.’s mother Gabriella.  Nevertheless, as the treasurer of St. Albert’s Priory, Rosa finds herself under investigation by the FBI and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) on suspicions of exchanging the church’s real stock certificates for counterfeits.  Acknowledging how somber her situation is, the bitter, grudge-soaked Rosa swallows a wedge of her pride and sends for her niece.  Thankfully, her niece happens to be Chicago’s hot-shot female P.I., V.I. Warshawski.  And this shit only gets better!

So, sworn by her dying mother to always, always look after her aunt should she need help, V. I. takes on her aunt Rosa as a client.  Almost regrettably, it turns out that Rosa’s situation is anything but undemanding.  The further V.I. uncovers the truth behind the counterfeit stock certificates, the further the stakes are raised in her direction.  And when an odd phone call threatens to throw acid in V.I.’s eyes, the case becomes very personal.  V. I. calculates how the Chicago mob and the Catholic church are two potent institutions hosting a number of potential aggressors to their individual causes.  Therefore, she quickly learns to traverse around their deadly paths, while uncovering deep family secrets and some of the finer examples of greed and murder by desperation.

Easily a five-star read!  I have to tell you, I couldn't put this book down.  Out of the three I've read so far in this series, Killing Orders is my favorite!  And I should also add that I think I'm finally won on V. I. Warshawski.  However, to be totally honest, I had the intention of cramming her down my throat until I did like her enough.  Therefore, while I've always delighted in V.I.’s ability to shoot a gun and kick ass, it finally dawned on me in Killing Orders exactly how vulnerable and human V.I. actually is.  Much to my complete and utter satisfaction.  

First let’s do away with her appealing ability to make many bad decisions and mistakes, as well as the spring of curse words she has in her arsenal (confrontational scenes are one of my favorites in P.I. novels because of this).  Instead, I stress her vulnerability in light of how this book dedicated itself to illuminating pieces of V. I.’s family history to help develop her as a multi-dimensional character, and not just a woman on a mission.  

You would think that because V.I.'s parents have long passed that there is only room for a solitary, one-note existence contained by her profession as a private investigator.  However, she actually has stand-ins for a mother and father who save her from the miffed, cynical woman she could've become.  Her “mother” is a Viennese physician named Lotty.  And her “father” is a police officer named Bobby Mallory, who worked alongside V. I.’s actual father on the Chicago police force.  Both Lotty and Mallory devoted themselves to V.I.’s well-being, as evident in Killing Orders by their ability to see beyond V.I. herself.  They were the characters who wholly disagreed, argued, and fought with her and her lifestyle as a P.I.  They drew her riling mind in with reason and force, determined to appeal against her magnetism for danger.  All that can be considered when V.I.’s actual blood relative, Rosa, rather have no relationship with her because of her decades old grudge with V.I.’s mother (the same can be said for V.I. who rather not have a relationship with Rosa either).  Added to the fact that Rosa drew V.I. into danger, as opposed to against it.  And even more of an addition, Rosa was a thoroughly religious woman, but could not practice forgiveness for a wrong V.I. didn't even commit.  One thing I can say is that Rosa and V. I. are alike in both their fire and stubbornness.  But thankfully that's about the sum of their connection.

Readers may not recognize this, but there’s a difference between plot and story.  Plot is all that the character does.  Story is all that a character becomes by the end of the novel.  Killing Orders did each of these so, tense, stylishly, and balanced that even I wanted to cry for V.I. toward the end.

A must read if you love hard-boiled detective fiction! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews