Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel) by Sarah Paretsky


Reviewed by Allen Hott

HardballThis is quite a story. V.I. Warshawski (known as Vi) is a private detective who is asked to find out what happened to Lamont Gadsden by his aunt. Lamont has been missing for over 40 years. Though his own mother has no hope or desire to find out where or if Lamont is alive, his aunt “hires” Vi to do some searching.

Having worked for the police department and being the daughter of a deceased police officer, Vi does have the ability to do some very extensive searching. Her searching is not restricted to the Chicago Police Department but because of private investigating she is able to get into many areas to delve for information.

Many things happen to Vi though as she begins looking and most of them are pretty scary. There are also people killed and in so of these cases Vi feels it has occurred because of her investigation.

Further clouding up the picture is the arrival in town of her young cousin, Petra, who moved up from Kansas City to be closer to her father, Peter. As the story grows more and more involved it appears that somehow even Peter has some knowledge of the missing Lamont. And Petra, who really admires Vi, gets more and more involved in the whole picture.

All of the investigating points more and more to not only a Nellie Fox (former big leaguer) baseball that Vi’s father passed on to her but also to a civil rights march that was not well handled by the police. Part of the happenings at that march was the death of a young female civil rights leader. The cause of her death, though never really solved, helped put one man in prison for life.

The more that VI, through the terrific writing of Paretsky, digs into these decades’ old happenings the more she finds lots of problems had occurred in the police department. These problems involved not only her dad when he was alive and working as an officer but also many other well-known political individuals.

Many of those individuals are still active today and they combine to do everything in their power to shut down Vi’s investigation. Many people jump in to help Vi (almost too many characters are really loaded into the story) as she continues though in some cases she ends up battered and bleeding!

Overall a story that really holds the reader’s interest but the overloading of characters is a bit distracting!