Monday Book Review: “Fire Sale” By Sara Paretsky
From Publishers Weekly
Private eye V.I. Warshawski takes a break from tony Lakeview to fill in for her old high school basketball coach on Chicago’s South Side in her 12th adventure. Vic starts her volunteer stint looking for a team sponsor at megadiscount store By-Smart, whose founder, Buffalo Bill Bysen, is a fellow alum. Of all Bysen’s cutthroat, cost-cutting family, only idealist 19-year-old Billy shows any interest in helping the team. When he disappears, his frustrated father hires Vic to find him. The mother of a high school basketball player also hires Vic to investigate sabotage at the flag factory where she works—an investigation cut short when the factory blows up before Vic’s eyes. Things go no better at school or at home, and clues pile on but they don’t add up. Vic takes her lumps as she makes her way from a fundamentalist church, where the pastor goes to extremes for his flock, to the city dump, where villains try to bury their secrets.
While reading about V.I. Warshawski, I could not help comparing her with Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone. While both are fully realized characters, with foibles alike, Warshawski comes across as a tad more than super-human. She takes direct gunshots, shuns off beatings and escapes billowing flames and speared by falling debris, kidnapped in a conveyor belted freezing semi. She just shakes it off with only minor complaints then continues on her investigation, doggedly all the way. It’s a bit of a turnoff and completely unrealistic that this woman would still be able to function after just one of these ‘mishaps’, let alone four or five in a row.
The storyline itself is a bit over-crowded. “Fire Sale” really could have been broken into two separate Novels. The reader is left a bit confused with all the running around and two or three different parallel storylines. Luckily Paretsky doesn’t have her protagonist jumping between plots every other page. Then there is Warshawski’s love life, equally as unbelievable as her super-human feats. She has two..no, is it three?…men after her at the same time. Where does she find the time to investigate? And where are these men with such virulent patience in the real world?
Still, the plot is exciting with non-stop action and the characters entertaining to read. There are the minor characters, such as the foreign war correspondent who is super-human herself, all the while being a superslut after Warshawski’s man. She gets almost skinned alive in the said conveyor belt freezer semi. She lives, of course.
Would that we all could be super-humans.