Select one of the keywords
Fire Sale: A V.I. Warshawski Novel    by Sara Paretsky order for
Fire Sale
by Sara Paretsky
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Her Dad named her Pepperpot, Mr. Contreras calls her Cookie and Doll, but Sarah Paretsky fans know her as the sassy, spirited, and oft-times soft-touch sleuth V.I. Warshawski, V.I., or Vic for short. In Fire Sale, V.I. investigates murders and takes a stand on social issues. The opening engages the reader's attention with a bang, in the explosion of the Fly the Flag manufacturing plant. The owner, Frank Mazar, is killed, and V.I. is taken to the hospital with a piece of window frame in her back. Paretsky proceeds with V.I.'s narration of what led up to the explosion, then re-enters V.I.'s story of a high-visibility case involving murders, disappearances, deceit, and corruption.

During a hometown visit in South Chicago, Vic is corralled by Coach Mary Ann McFarlane to take over coaching of the girls' basketball team, while McFarlane takes a medical leave. Bertha Palmer High School's team is a rambunctious group from low-income families, some belonging to gangs, and some with babies of their own. Team member Josie Doddard implores V.I. to help her mom, Rose, in dealing with her employer, Mr. Mazar, at Fly the Flag. Rose reports sabotage attempts, concerned that she will lose her job - she is a single mother, supporting five children. April Czernin collapses in the gym, and is diagnosed with heart arrhythmia. Czernin's mom and dad (Sandra and Bron) are ex-classmates of Vic, and Sandra's not too friendly toward her, while Bron is a truck driver for a local discount store.

Others involved are from a bickering family - owners of the multi-chain, million dollar business of By-Smart, started by still on-the-job, in his eighties, William 'Buffalo Bill' Bysen. V.I. goes verbal rounds with the patriarch, as she approaches the Bysens for basketball team funding. Nineteen-year old grandson Billy has a big heart and understands the needs of low-paid employees. There are suspicious goings on with the By-Smart dynasty, overseas connections, and a tie to the bombed Fly the Flag manufacturer. Josie and Billy disappear, his abandoned car found by Mr. Contreras and V.I.. Canine sleuth Mitch leads Vic to two victims in a marshy, muddy area, on the outskirts of the golf course.

Sara Paretsky, one of America's foremost writers of crime fiction, seamlessly spins a suspenseful story, and develops a plot that gathers no moss. Her heroine is an enduring figure, appearing in eleven V. I. Warshawski novels to date. Paretsky was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Crime Writers' Association in 2002. Don't miss Fire Sale, in which V.I. searches for missing teenagers, tracks a murderer or two, encourages her basketball team (especially to further their education), and pays more than her share of visits to the hospital ER.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews