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Blacklist

by Sara Paretsky

Blacklist
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2003, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2004, 480 pages

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John Baldry (10/30/04)

Blacklist was a disappointment after all the other V I novels - and I've been a great Warshawski fan for many years. I find all the rich folks drearily boring, and have much more time for Mr Contreras, Father Lou, the poor Latinos and the social struggles that VI becomes involved with in the other novels. Perhaps I'm getting old, but I was becoming quite confused by all the Grahams and Bayards - they seemed to be one big unhappy family of rich people caught up in their own affairs. Dallas did this sort of thing so much better.
Josephine Anna Kaszuba Locke (08/12/04)


V. I. at top form, classy, sassy and spirited…

Dzien dobry, Sara Paretsky and Detective Warshawski… from a survivor - thank you for noting 9/11...

So, V.I., you are off on another assignment in BLACKLIST. Hired by long-time client, Darraugh Graham to investigate 'goings on' at his family's old home near Anodyne Park in New Solway. Darraugh's feisty mother Geraldine now lives in an apartment near the property and has seen lights in the attic of the empty house, imagination or fact?

On the second late-night property stakeout, Detective Warshawski encounters a young teenage female heading toward the entry of the house. The teenager takes flight and escapes during pursuit, unfortunately. Giving chase, Detective V.I. falls into five feet of murky, weedy, pond water located on the property. As she rises out of the clay-like soil, she finds a drowned dead man; attempts CPR but to no avail.

The dead man is identified as freelance reporter Marcus Whitby. Cause of death is listed as 'drowning' after consumption of alcohol, probably. His parents come to Chicago to claim the body and are eager to return home for burial ceremonies. Sister of Marcus engages V.I. to intervene for an autopsy to determine cause of death, officially. Why was he at the property? How come his automobile was not nearby? Why was there no identification on him other than a very wet matchbook and a pencil?

Warshawski learns the identity of the teenage trespasser who is linked to an affluent Chicago family, a publishing firm owned by the Bayard's. Interrogation of young Ms. Bayard brings shallow results. The news media reports on the mysterious disappearance of a young, male Egyptian named Benjamin Sadawi. Added to the building suspense are reports of terrorist activities under investigation, adding fire and energy of implications wrought in BLACKLIST. And…, more turmoil runs amok when "authorities" want to gain access to student files in the elite Vina Fields Academy on Chicago's Gold Coast.

The momentum builds with V.I. not deterred by any subtle hints or threats to her investigation. Suddenly, however, her employer Darraugh Graham instructs V.I. to put a halt to the investigation of the once family-owned property. Warshawski fans know that such moments of "halt commands" only provide fuel to V.I.'s detective energy.

Meanwhile, Warshawski's love of her life, Morrell is on assignment in Afghanistan. To friend and neighbor, Mr. Contreras (God love him), V.I. is known as 'doll' or 'cookie', and he continues his vigil of watching over her. Providing chicken soup, and a breakfast of French toast with bacon to maintain her well-being.

As always, Sara Paretsky gives credence to the story with well-described, scenic places in Chicago, lovable and not-so-lovable characters -- some have been with Warshawski for years as others come and go. Along with the plots, questionable circumstantial deaths, and a not-to-be defeated Detective Warshawski, BLACKLIST will keep you reading through wonderfully captioned-chapters, such as: 'House of the Dead'; 'Crocodile In the Moat'; 'Stiffed at the Morgue'; 'Terrorist on the Run', and 'Shootout at the Eagle River Corral'.

In true Paretsky definitive style, V.I. Warshawski continues with question upon question of what she is getting for responses - sly, half-truth, no-truth answers. To readers - check out Sara Paretsky's website… www.SaraParetsky.com.

dawn bazely (01/02/04)

Blacklist - the latest V. I. Warshawski novel. As usual, Sara Paretsky has not just written a great detective novel, but has also tackled far broader issues - in this case everything from terrorism, current attitudes towards muslims, the blacklists of the 1950s and significant events in black history during the 1940s and 50s. I always feel extremely educated and informed after reading a V. I. Warshawski novel, but I also always feel emotionally exhausted and depressed. Depressed because, while V. I. always solves the puzzle, the person or persons (or large corporations) ultimately responsible, usually escape(s) retribution... The bleakness that pervades these books, their honesty, and V. I.'s passion and commitment, simultaneously repels and attracts me as a reader. I recently donated my collection of 400 detective novels to our local public library and after reading this book, I somewhat regret that I did not hang on to my Paretsky collection. If Oprah was ever going to endorse just one detective novellist (I don't believe that she picked up any detective genre titles for her book club before it's first incarnation folded), it would have to be this book or another by Paretsky. I say this as someone who has read everything that P. D. James has written! Just one gripe - Sara - V. I. has been around for 20 years now, and I believe that Peppy the dog arrived in Bitter Medicine in 1987. Can she possibly still be alive 16 years later? She wasn't a puppy then...
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