Saturday, October 17, 2015

Paretsky's Blood

Ahh.  Back to the world of Chicago white collar crime, with Sara Paretsky’s super P. I., V. I. Warshawski.  In Warshawki’s fifth adventure, Blood Shot, we go deeper into Warshawski’s history.  Also, the under workings of chemical corruption in Chicago’s Dead Stick Pond.
It started with a reunion between Warshawski and her childhood friend, Caroline Djiak.  Caroline summoned Warshawski back to south Chicago under false pretenses; an invitation to a reunion of girls high school basketball players turns into more.  Warshawski isn’t exactly excited about returning to the old neighbor, but she comes.  Along with her old memories.  
One of those memories consist of a teenage V. I. babysitting Caroline.  Caroline’s mother, Louisa, spent her time at work in a local plant.  And with a family who disowned her, Louisa depended on the Warshawski's for support.  Now V. I. Warshawski finds herself in south Chicago to fulfill a personal request for Caroline.  Louisa is dying, and Caroline wants to hire V. I. to uncover the identity of her father.  He is someone Louisa has kept secret from Caroline all her life–and for good reason.  Reluctantly, Warshawski takes on the case.  In turn, she opens up a can of worms that leaves her fighting for her life the closer she gets to the truth. 

Let Me Just Be Straight With You Right Quick

It may’ve been over a month since I read Blood Shot, but I have to say that has little to do with the vacant response I have.  Now I don’t see a vacant response as necessarily a bad thing.  I just… well… don’t have much I want to say about Blood Shot.  Since the beginning, Parestky’s hard-boil female detective series has served me nothing but rockiness.  I like Warshawski herself.  She’s tough as nails and vulnerable in all the right places.  But I sometimes find myself losing the direction of her cases, specifically through Paretsky’s narrative “flow.”  It's often a convoluted mess to me.  And the swelling roster of paper-pushing talking head suspects never helps. 
You see, Pareskty throws a lot at the reader.  And I mean a lot.  Warshawski's always dashing left and right; up and down.  She's visiting this fellow at the local bar on this page.  Then she’s interrogating this fellow in his office.  There’s a connection, but you’re questioning where does one end lead into the other.  Or do they even lead?  And who are these men and what is their importance again?  What's their position on corporate documents?  As that always seems the most important ingredient to capture all the connecting threads.  
In between, Warshawski is tasseling with project managers, lawyers, crime bosses, and mechanics.  All have names.  All are more or less distinguishable concerning response and behavior.  Some of the interesting ones even disappear from the novel after his or her first scene.  It’s his word.  That word.  Her word.  The right word.  Page after page.  Name after name.  Title after title.  Association by association.  Motive after motive.  Suspicion after suspicion.  Acronym after Acronym.  Office after office.  Company after company.  Wheel spinning after wheel spinning.  A tumbled snow globe.  Until you’re like what the hell is the rush and why is this author purposely funhouse’ing me?
And finally.  You can’t keep up, yet you’ve managed to anyway.
I found every bit of this with my experience with Blood Shot.  It was like holding on to a roller coaster without the hunger for the thrill.  After five books, I’m hip to Parestky’s game.  But I wish Blood Shot had the same balance served in the third book, Killing Orders.  That’s still my favorite Warshawski novel.  But to its credit, Blood Shot delving into Warshawski's history is a plus.  The personal interactions between Warshawski and those who mean her no harm were pleasant.  
Though I could've elaborated more with examples, I'll close this post with how much I can't wait to try again with the next book.  Challenging sometimes?  Certainly.  But you can't beat a woman strapped with a gun and charging after paper-pushing criminals.  Even during final confrontations described straight out of a comic book.  Seriously, why do characters choose to threat and chat while aiming guns at one another.  Just shoot his ass next time, Warshawski!

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