Sara Paretsky, Guardian Angel

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Sara Paretsky is a living legend, her creation Vic Warshawski came to into print thirty years back and despite upheavals and burnout she is still going strong. She appears here for the seventh time in her beloved Chicago, and this signed limited edition contains an appreciation by British female lawyer turned crime writer, Frances Fyfield.

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Sara Paretsky grew up in Kansas in a Jewish family, was educated in Chicago andd turned to detective fiction within a few years of receiving her PhD. Indemnity Only (1982) introduced a fresh voice in the genre. Women crime investigators had been around since Miss Maple and Harriet Vane, but Vic Warshawski was a stand-out creation. She had it all – sharp brains, worked out, had empathy with the disadvantaged, liked to take her time with her friends and neighbours. Sara Paretsky’s stories are engaging and well crafted. The sense of place, exploring the south side, the lake or downtown – it is a real city with its pride and its problems. Sara has been awarded many major awards in the USA and in the UK.

Plotline: Racine Avenue is going upscale – bad news for hand-to-mouth residents like V I Warshawski. As tax bills skyrocket, newcomers pressure old inhabitants into fixing up their homes or moving out. To the yuppies on the block the worst eyesore belongs to old Hattie Frizell, whose yard is “returning to native prairie, complete with hubcaps.” Their block club wants her and her five dogs gone.  V I and Hattie have a relationship of sorts: one of those five dogs gave V I’s dog Peppy an unwelcome litter. When Hattie slips in her bath and is rushed unconscious to the hospital, V I feels compelled to get involved. But neighbouring lawyer Todd Pichea and his wife, Chrissie, act swiftly to get the courts to make them Hattie’s legal guardians. V I returns from a business trip to find they’ve put the old woman’s dogs to sleep. Furious, V I starts poking around in the Picheas’ affairs, hoping to turn up something scandalous enough to make them lose their guardianship.  Hattie isn’t the detective’s only worry. When her downstairs neighbour’s oldest friend disappears, Mr. Contreras persuades V I to investigate. As she probes both problems, V I uncovers a scandal linking one of Chicago’s oldest industrial families to union fraud and a politically connected bank. Her investigation takes her into the depths of the steamy Sanitary Canal and brings her eyeball-to-eyeball with her ex-husband, Dick Yarborough. When her dear friend Lotty Herschel and her own lawyer turn against her, V I is left alone to struggle with the most serious case of her career.

Guardian Angel, the seventh in Sara Paretsky’s best-selling series, proves once again that V I Warshawski is “America’s most convincing and engaging female private eye.” (Entertainment Weekly). British lawyer turned successful crime writer Frances Fyfield gives the reader a real insight into Sara’s creation in her appreciation.

5.00 out of 5

2 reviews for Sara Paretsky, Guardian Angel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by “Booklist” and “San Francisco Chronicle” on April 13, 2012 :

    “With each novel Paretsky lets intrepid detective V I Warshawski (Aka ‘Vic’) take a few more physical lumps, though the more interesting dings are emotional ones. Here Paretsky constructs and maintains one monster of a plot…. The author’s gift for finding the precise urban setting and crafting her narrative jigsaw puzzle with unerring accuracy remains intact”.
    — Booklist
    “Rich in character and atmosphere…Guardian Angel shows Vic in a different, somewhat softer light. She’s certainly not mellow, but refreshingly introspective, and uncharacteristically vulnerable”. — San Francisco Chronicle

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Frances Fyfield on May 21, 2012 :

    Extract from the Appreciation by Frances Fyfield

    “Sara Paretsky is a definite woman who is beyond all obvious classification. So, inevitably, is her leading character, Ms V. I. Warshawski, the orphan of Italian-Polish descent who lives on Racine Avenue, Chicago, an area she will save from gentrification. “A series character,” says Paretsky in an interview, “Is your secret Playmate.” Interviewers have their own way of changing the emphasis of the most self deprecating quote and V. I. is more than a playmate. Once she was given life, she could not and will not be controlled and she will certainly not conform to anyone’s games. Some playmate. You must love or hate her, since the only other choice is a kind of cold fascination which really will not do for such a glorious woman. The best route is to learn to love her even when she makes you choke, but don’t consider her as a cosy and don’t apologize for her behaviour. Not a playmate then, but an alter ego for the bravest as well as the coward; an example of consistent honour: a piece of damaged goods propelled in wrong directions as well as right. Led by the kind of energy which can destroy as well as reform, V. I. is a lost soul of conspicuous intelligence and hectic kindness. One who sheds a skin as easily as a car, she heals her own wounds without crying for help because each time she cried that way before, the silence was not golden. She is lonely often, pathetic, never. The wit is a downtown acid, the eating habits eclectic, the apartment a mess, but the shoes and the courage are divine. Her best possessions are frequently ruined, which she accepts with resignation but not without regret, especially the shoes. To fill the vacuum of her energy and to feed the gnawing conscience, Warshawski will push herself to the limit. She will vex her friends and I wish she was the best of mine, not for the knife edge of anxiety she would cause, but only for the joy of it”

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