Sara Paretsky's eighteenth book caught my attention, not because it is another mystery, not because I'm a follower, but because even though it starts out in Chicago, her home town, it brings her to Lawrence KS for her newest adventure.
I loved this book taking V.I. out of her Chicago comfort zone and putting her smack in the middle of America—Kansas. Paretsky has woven a story about two missing people that encompasses the racial history of Lawrence Kansas. As a rural small town girl, Paretsky was right on track with local citizen suspicion of outsiders. Although at times, I though the story line was a little convoluted, it only added to the challenges VI faced.
The mystery and suspense in Fallout, like Brush Back before it, grabbed me and kept me involved from beginning to end. I particularly liked seeing VI travel out of Chicago, and Paretsky's sense of place is as fully realized for Kansas as it always is for her urban home base. VI's personal story continues to evolve and the characters at the center of the mysteries feel just as real and important. I am peevishly knocking off a half-star from my review because I don't much like the character of Bernie, and would like to see her return to her studies and hockey practice, and stay out of VI's way in the future:)
For viewers of the series The Americans, aspects of "Fallout" involving the US research in biological weapons provide an interesting counterpart to the storyline of season 4.
I've read all of Sara Paretsky's books and she never disappoints. I love the recurring characters and the four legged ones as well. There are a lot of twists and turns keeping you totally engaged in the storyline. A good read.
Lee Child is right, Paretsky is a genius! She writes these detailed, but rigorous plots with lots of characters and twists and turns. Her books are more complicated than a lot of authors and paying attention is a necessity. VI is an endearing character, flawed, funny, bold, lucky, and a thinker - I like her as a character a lot. That said, this book is unusual in that it takes place in Lawrence, Kansas, far away from VI's comfort zone, contacts and support systems - which adds an unusual twist of its own to the story. It deals with nuclear protests in the 1980s, bioweapons, race relations and has lots of mayhem and more than a few murders. Plus she throws in some tensions between competing county and city police jurisdictions. A very good read. I can't help but think though that the folks in Lawrence aren't thrilled to be at the center of this story.
Vi investigates an incident occurring during an anti-nuke protest in the eighties. Good clear writing, but a bazillion characters, and half way through I wished I had started a cast list. The plot was strong and engaging; the end was very unlikely but hey, this is fiction. A good read.
This is the second book of Paretsky's I've read. The result is the same. I really like her characters but then the plot starts to resemble a Chinese torture chamber with so many twists and turns and so ludicrous that I feel I'm trying to read it in Mandarin.
The first sixty pages of this book are incoherent and tedious, especially if one hasn’t read Brush Back. But once V.I. Warshawski pulls up into Lawrence, Kansas, the pace picks up quickly. Things start to make sense. The plots thicken. People start dropping like flies. And the rest of the V.I.'s quest, replete with her snarky, in-your-face dialog, is enjoyable.
There are literally dozens of people mulling around Lawrence, various generations, including individuals who are MIA or presumed dead. These, on top of the recurring characters still hanging out in Chicago. Inevitably, a reader stops caring about many of the two-dimensional characters, which detracts. Ostensibly they all play a role in the mysterious activities taking place . Still, many of Fallout’s characters are nicely limned: Colonel Bagetto, Dr. and Mrs. Kiel, their crazed daughter Sonia, Sergeant Everard—my personal favorite, and of course Peppy the dog.
Sara Paretsky must have spent months researching various aspects of Lawrence’s history: the town's racial relations, the US military presence and facilities in the region, as well as tidbits about town and gown culture. Those details, combined with a suspenseful if implausible ending, make V.I.’s #18 a worthwhile read.
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