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Windy City Blues


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About the Author

Sara Paretsky is the author of many novels, including her V. I. Warshawski series, which began with Indemnity Only. She lives in Chicago.


Before giving us nine tales featuring her indomitable detective, V.I. Warshawski, Paretsky provides an introduction in which she gives a tour of the industrial south side of Chicago. The piece unwittingly reveals why her novels work so well and why this short-story collection doesn't. Many readers eagerly follow V.I. across the industrial and socioeconomic terrain that Paretsky carefully details and so seamlessly integrates into her novels. But there's no room in these short tales for such marvelously extended Chicago set pieces. Instead, Paretsky has to get by largely on plotting. A Warshawski relative arrives from Italy in "Grace Notes" to find a valuable musical manuscript that once belonged to V.I.'s mother. The Warshawski family tree's tangled roots have tripped the detective up before, and they do so again here. In "Strung Out," a young female tennis star has the usual entourage of pushy parents and lovers and coaches. Suddenly, she's short one pushy parent, and V.I. is on hand to lead us to the killer in this loveless match. On the whole these stories seem slight beside the broader canvases of Warshawski novels like Blood Shot and Guardian Angel. (Oct.)

This collection of five short stories read by Jean Smart will charm fans of Paretsky (Blood Shot, Audio Reviews, LJ 12/93) and her fabulous creation, V.I. Warshawski. Smart reads beautifully: Warshawski's contralto voice sounds tough, intelligent, and unflagging. The beat and stress of syllables demonstrate the energetic, quick-thinking detective even when her voice fades in exhaustion or pain. The stories also give Smart room to use accents, which she does most felicitously: in "Grace Notes," V.I. meets an Italian cousin, and Smart's Italian accent is rhythmic and winsome; in "The Maltese Cat," Warshawski's Mississippi clients sound either aristocratic or redneck; hesitation and quiet mark the speech of Japanese-American protagonists in "The Takomoku Joseki." Other stories include "At the Old Swimming Hole," where V.I. witnesses a murder at a swim meet, and "The Case of the Pietro Andromache," in which Max's lover, Dr. Lotte Hershold, is accused of murder. Highly recommended for popular and mystery collections.-Juleigh Muirhead Clark, Coll. of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va.

"The Chicago writer whose name always makes the top of the list when people talk about the new female operatives." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Paretsky's work does more than turn a genre upside down: her books are beautifully paced and plotted, and the dialogue is fresh and smart." -- Newsweek

"Sara Paretsky's cult heroine is a woman's woman -- V. I. Warshawski, the funky feminist private eye . . . [V. I.] is a gumshoe for modern times." -- People

"Who is America's most convincing and engaging professional private eye? . . . V. I. Warshawski, the star of Sara Paretsky's series about white-collar crime and wall-to-wall corruption in Chicago, now clearly leads the growing field." --Entertainment Weekly

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