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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

REVIEW - Hardball, a V.I. Warshawski Mystery by Sara Paretsky

Title: Hardball, a V.I. Warshawski Mystery Thriller
Author: Sara Parentsy
Genre: Mystery Thriller

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0399155937
ISBN-13: 978-0399155932
Price: Hardback $15.75 eBook $9.99

Available from the following retailers:
Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Borders  Indiebound

Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Reviewed by: MarthaE

Blurb: Chicago politics—past, present, and future—take center stage in New York Times–bestselling author Sara Paretsky’s brilliant new V. I. Warshawski novel.

Chicago’s unique brand of ball is sixteen-inch slow pitch, played in leagues all over the city for more than a century. But in politics, in business, and in law enforcement, the game is hardball.

When V. I. Warshawski is asked to find a man who’s been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile becomes lethal. Old skeletons from the city’s racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets—her own and those of the elderly sisters who hired her—rise up to brush her back from the plate with a vengeance. A young cousin whom she’s never met arrives from Kansas City to work on a political campaign; a nun who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. dies without revealing crucial evidence; and on the city’s South Side, people spit when she shows up. Afraid to learn that her adored father might have been a bent cop, V. I. still takes the investigation all the way to its frightening end.

This is the first V.I. mystery I have read and now I know why it is a popular series! This is a mystery that keeps you following clues until the full details are revealed!

I liked the crisp writing and the short chapters with titles that let you know what each chapter is about. The story started a bit slowly but soon it was building the mystery in the disappearance of V.I.’s cousin Petra and the mystery surrounding V.I.’s father and activities in his past.

V.I is a sharp, independent female investigator. She has been asked to help an old woman find her son, more for her sister, the Aunt, than herself. The problem is the young man has been missing for forty years! As V.I. starts looking for the missing man she discovers that his disappearance appears to be connected to the death of a young woman during the race riots surrounding Martin Luther King. The more she digs the more troubling facts she finds. V.I. is puzzled and angered to find her young, energetic cousin, Petra, searching through V.I.’s trunk of family treasures! Then Petra disappears after she has convinced V.I. to let her do some minor research. Now it seems that everyone V.I. questions is threatened as murder and arson follow in the wake of her investigations. It becomes clear that someone is willing to go to a lot of trouble to keep the past secret! But V.I. doesn’t know the word “stop” and she insists on pursuing the clues even if it means exposing some dirty family secrets.

The author does a good job portraying V.I.’s character, including her perfectionist “do it right - do it yourself” type personality that is partly responsible for her loneliness and aloneness. Although this book worked fine as a stand alone, it created a curiosity for me to read prior books to understand more about V.I.’s personalities and relationships and to read more good mystery stories!

A Big THANK YOU to Lydia at The Penguin Group who sent this book to me!
[This was not posted at SaSR as we are playing a game today instead of having a review!]



  1. Wow I didn't realize this series was still around. Think I read a couple back in the day.

  2. This sounds like a great read! I love a good mystery. :)

  3. Hi Zia - Yes it still around! I think this is #13 if I counted correctly! (Might not have - its late!) The first came out in 1982!

    Hello Katy - If you love a good mystery you would like this! I am a bit sorry that this is the first VI mystery I have read! I wish I didn't have so many review books so I could go back and read some of the early ones.

  4. I am not much into mystery novels but this book sounds very interesting. Do you think I should start with the first book or with this one that you have reviewed.

  5. Deanna - This one worked fine as a stand alone. I imagine starting at the beginning would give a fuller emotional picture of V.I. but I think the author did a good job of portraying her character in this book so that I didn't feel like I missed something by not having read the earlier ones.

  6. I need to read this book! Thanks for the review and joining the party.


    It sounds like I don't have to start with the first book.


Your comments are always appreciated!


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