Saturday, December 19, 2009


Guardian Angel, Sara Paretsky, Delacorte Press, 1992, 370 pp

In Paretsky's seventh V I Warshawski novel, the private investigator is pulled into neighborhood problems when her dog Peppy gets knocked up by a neighbor's black lab. The poor, eccentric old woman, who loves dogs more than her distant son, is being preyed upon by gentrification fanatics and before long ends up in hospital.

V I shares Peppy with her downstairs neighbor Mr Contreras, who has appointed himself the detective's guardian. Their contentious relationship has been going on for several books now, but in this one it finally develops into a somewhat cooperative friendship.

Soon enough, one of Contreras' old union buddies disappears, so while she is trying to fight for her elderly neighbor's rights, V I also falls into some very suspicious industrial activity at a derelict steel plant. The scandals she uncovers involve her ex-husband the lawyer, an old Chicago industrial family, union fraud and junk bonds. In fact, V I has so much going on that there is hardly any time for romance, though she does spend a night or two with an African American cop. The woman just has to get mixed up in anything that draws the ire of others.

The action and danger are at the usual pitch, it is easier to keep track of the characters than in some of the earlier books, but I wasn't as involved in the story. She does a good job with the financial and feminist issues of the early 90s and deals with the worst challenge to her friendship with Dr Lottie so far. By the time I finish this series, I will know my way around Chicago, should I ever go there again in the future.

(Guardian Angel is available in paperback by special order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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