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Brush Back, Sara Paretsky, G P Putnam's Sons, 2015, 459 pp
Now I have read all of Sara Paretsky's books and I am ready for her newest one, Fallout, which will be released next month, April 18, 2017!
I first read Sara Paretsky in 2005 when one of my reading groups read and discussed Fire Sale. I was hooked! I felt, and still feel, that V I Warshawski was the best female private investigator of all. I went back and started reading all her books in order.
Brush Back takes V I back into the South Side Chicago neighborhood where she grew up. An old boyfriend appears one day asking for her help in exonerating his mother Stella, who has served a 25 year stint behind bars for manslaughter. She had been convicted of murdering her own daughter, but is still claiming innocence. However, she is no victim but is in fact a violent, crazy woman and she hates V I with a passion.
As in every Sara Paretsky mystery, what seems like a small matter explodes into a trail of corruption and injustice involving white collar crime. Also as usual, the police have little interest in getting involved, leaving it up to V I to risk her life tracking down the truth.
In Brush Back a blue collar neighborhood has been gutted by the closing of the steel industry and overrun by gangs and drugs. It is being somewhat propped up by a purported do-gooder who is as corrupt as they come. V I takes plenty of flack for having left the neighborhood and having had a degree of success with her private investigator one woman business. Rather than anyone being glad to see her coming back to help, she is vilified and obstructed at every turn, even though her deceased cousin Boom-Boom is well-loved for his success as a famous hockey player.
The book is so timely. Those down-trodden South Side residents are a part of the demographic that put our current President in office. The criminal behind all the supposed "good work" he does in the neighborhood is the one who is actually driving the area further down. What is he hiding?
In these days of calls for activism, V I Warshawski is an admirable example of the dangers involved in exposing corruption, greed, and the rotten spots in city politics. I wish I was that brave. At least I read the books. Follow the money is still an important watchword.
(Brush Back is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)