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Blacklist [Large Print] [Paperback]

Sara Paretsky
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 2004 V. I. Warshawski
Blacklist is a story of secrets and betrayals that stretch across four generations — secrets political, social, sexual, financial: all of them with the power to kill. Eager for something physical to do in the spirit-exhausting wake of 9/11, V.I. accepts a request from an old client to check up on an empty family mansion; subsequently surprises an intruder in the dark; and, giving chase, topples into a pond. Grasping for something to hold on to, her fingers close around a lifeless human hand. It is the body of a reporter who had been investigating events of forty-five years earlier, during the McCarthy era, and V. I.’s discovery quickly sucks her into the history of two great Chicago families — their fortunes intertwined by blood, sex, money, and the scandals that may or may not have resulted in murder all these years later. At the same time, she inadvertently becomes involved in the story of a missing Egyptian boy whose possible terrorist connections make him very much sought after by the government. As the two cases drive her forward—and then shockingly tumble together, pushing her into situations more perilous than she could have imagined—she finds that wealth and privilege, too, bear a terrible price; and the past has no monopoly on patriotic scoundrels. Before everything is over, at least two more people will lie dead...and V.I. might even be one of them.
--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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From Amazon

Privilege, politics, and perfidy jointly propel the circuitous plot of Blacklist, Sara Paretsky's 11th novel featuring tenacious Chicago private-eye V.I. Warshawski. By the time this story runs its course, V.I. will have harbored an alleged Arab terrorist, resurrected the ghosts of America's 1950s anti-Communist hysteria, and questioned the integrity of a man she once admired "to the point of hero worship." In other words, it's a typical case for this hard-headed, sarcastic, and perpetually sleep-deprived sleuth.

Still suffering from "exhaustion of the spirit" in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, V.I. is hired to find out who may be sneaking into a vacated suburban mansion. Geraldine Graham, the home's 91-year-old former owner, who still lives nearby, claims she's seen lights in the attic at night. Our heroine suspects this is simply a bid by the wealthy dowager for greater attention, but agrees to do some nocturnal prowling--only to stumble (literally) across the body of a dead black journalist, Marcus Whitby, in the estate’s ornamental pond and encounter a teenage girl fleeing the scene. The girl turns out to be Catherine Bayard, the granddaughter of Calvin Bayard, an unapologetically liberal book publisher who survived a hounding by the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee in the '50s without being blacklisted like so many of his authors. Digging deeper, V.I. learns that Whitby was doing research for a book about an African-American dancer and anthropologist who had enjoyed Bayard's support before she too was branded a Communist. Was Whitby killed en route to visit Bayard, one of Graham's neighbors--and a man who has strangely vanished from public view? And is there any connection between this murder and the disappearance of an Egyptian dishwasher, or the recent demise of a right-wing attorney and Bayard foe, in whose apartment V.I. is attacked by an intruder?

Except for a few astounding turns of luck (including the 11th-hour discovery of a revealing audiotape left in a car's player), Paretsky rolls out a credible yarn here, enriched by meticulous character development and an agreeably ambiguous conclusion. The author's intention to link McCarthy-era abuses with post-9/11 government assaults on civil rights is obvious, without being didactic, and it adds currency to a fictional investigation that's already rife with sex, betrayal, and long-held secrets among the rich. It's good to see that V.I. the P.I. hasn't lost the compassion or righteousness that first made her attractive two decades ago, in Indemnity Only. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Chicago private eye V.I. ("Vic") Warshawski needs all her strength and ingenuity to deal with the tragic effects of discrimination past and present in this riveting exploration of guilt and fear, the 12th installment in Paretsky's stellar series. Longtime client Darraugh Graham asks Vic to investigate his mother Geraldine's suspicion that trespassers are living in the empty mansion her father built in the suburban Chicago enclave where she has spent most of her life. Vic literally tumbles into trouble when, upon falling into a pond on the property, she comes up clutching the hand of a dead man. He is identified as Marcus Whitby, a young African-American journalist who was writing about members of the 1930s Federal Negro Theater Project especially a beautiful Negro dancer once championed by local liberals and blacklisted during the Communist witch hunt. Hired by Marcus's sister to look into his death, Vic spans cultures and generations in her investigation. Is Benji, the young Arab student sheltered in the mansion's attic by 16-year-old Catherine Bayard (whose politically daring publisher grandfather Calvin was once Vic's hero), somehow connected? Whether or not he has terrorist ties, Benji is at risk, so after Vic finds him she persuades Father Lou, a tough but caring community activist, to hide him in spite of post-9/11 dictums. Digging deeper, Vic must face disturbing allegations about Calvin Bayard and the likelihood that her lover, Morrell, on assignment in Afghanistan, is in danger. Paretsky reminds us that although victims change, prejudice is still alive and all too well. With this top-notch offering, she earns another vote of confidence for V.I.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Better luck next time June 17 2004
By John S.
The writing quality itself is Paretsky's usual good stuff; however, I'm subtracting two stars: one because the politics got in the way of the story and one for the confusing cast of characters. Available blurbs cover the plot structure fairly comprehensively, but I'll try not to give away any "secrets".
By the time the Egyptian kid enters the story directly, fairly far along in the book, I've forgotten exactly what he had "done" to deserve such attention from the Feds - aside from attending a suspect mosque on a regular basis. That aspect of the plot was handled in such an exaggerated manner that I had trouble suspending disbelief. The author might rebut that such a scenario "might be possible" under this draconian law. I'm not willing to agree.
Frankly I'm surprised Paretsky was able to get away with so many supporting characters speaking with, basically, two voices among them: "privileged Caucasian person" and "well educated African-American". The members of each group were, for the most part, indistinguishable from each other after a while.
Further confusing the reader in this long novel, the shadows of several deceased individuals are present. A scorecard was sorely needed; I checked to see if I'd missed a family tree chart at the beginning that might have helped me with this story.
In summary: this would have worked better as two (briefer!) stories - one on the Patriot Act and one on buried secrets from the past. As others have said, the link between the 50's and today doesn't work well enough to hold the two plots together.
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5.0 out of 5 stars V. I. in top form, classy, sassy and spirited� May 21 2004
Dzien dobry, Sara Paretsky and Detective Warshawski... from a survivor - thank you for noting 9/11.
So, V.I., you are off on another assignment in BLACKLIST. Hired by a long-time client, Darraugh Graham to investigate 'goings on' at his family's old home near Anodyne Park in New Solway. Darraugh's feisty mother Geraldine now lives in an apartment near the property and has seen lights in the attic of the empty house, imagination or fact?
On the second late-night property stakeout, Detective Warshawski encounters a young teenage female heading toward the entry of the house. The teenager takes flight and escapes during pursuit, unfortunately. Giving chase, Detective V.I. falls into five feet of murky, weedy, pond water located on the property. As she rises out of the clay-like soil, she finds a drowned dead man; attempts CPR but to no avail.
The dead man is identified as freelance reporter Marcus Whitby. Cause of death is listed as 'drowning' after consumption of alcohol, probably. His parents come to Chicago to claim the body and are eager to return home for burial ceremonies. Sister of Marcus engages V.I. to intervene for an autopsy to determine cause of death, officially. Why was he at the property? How come his automobile was not nearby? Why was there no identification on him other than a very wet matchbook and a pencil?
Warshawski learns the identity of the teenage trespasser who is linked to an affluent Chicago family, a publishing firm owned by the Bayard's. Interrogation of young Ms. Bayard brings shallow results. The news media reports on the mysterious disappearance of a young, male Egyptian named Benjamin Sadawi. Added to the building suspense are reports of terrorist activities under investigation, adding fire and energy of implications wrought in BLACKLIST.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta Get Beyond the Cold March 14 2004
Sara Paretsky's skill as a writer surfaces through her ability to create strong empathy between reader and character. This is no more evident than by the events of Chapter 4. Our favorite character, V.I. Warshawski, catches cold pulling a dead man out of a pound. As she drags fanny, so does the reader. But when our investigator returns to form, the intensity of the plot follows suit, eventually clipping along at a pace that kept this reader turning pages well into the wee hours of the morning. By the end of the story, no character is left dangling. The reader knows the who, what, and why. However, nagging thoughts persist about how our lives fit in a country fraught by paranoia.
As V.I. goes about her business of investigating, she is - indeed - a mellower private eye, using clever interrogation skills, rather than "lip," to drag answers from the unsuspecting instead of alienating them. I like this deeper Warshawski. On the other hand, V.I. remains true to form by going where her case leads her, deliberately shoving aside warnings to "back off" despite threat to body and business.
The author uses "the case" to explore the darker sides of Homeland Security and the power of the ultra-wealthy. V.I., herself, becomes the target of over-jealous protectors of the homeland, and the reader is reminded of just how easy it is for very real civil liberties to be trampled. Readers are also exposed to the inworkings of high-society, and how *different* they think and operate from the rest of society.
I applaud this book. It takes the reader places that few would imagine when seeking to be entertained by the familiar antics of our beloved V.I. Warshawski. "Blacklist" not only entertains, but makes the reader look at our country in the wake of 9/11.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written mystery
V.I. Warshawski is back at it as she is asked to investigate some mysterious activity in a deserted mansion. Read more
Published on June 24 2004 by Karen Potts
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoy this writer a lot,
I am a huge fan of this fun series. I enjoy this genre and think that anyone who likes getting lost in a good book will also like it. Give it a try.
Published on June 7 2004 by Peg Dubeck
4.0 out of 5 stars Above-average V.I.
BLACKLIST is Parestsky's very fine homage to the late Ross Macdonald. VI Warshawski's investigation of a reporter's murder uncovers a cesspool of fifty-year-old family troubles:... Read more
Published on March 14 2004 by Peter D. Tillman
5.0 out of 5 stars Warshawski, back on track
How satisfying it is to read a great Sara Paretsky novel that is not mired in politics, social injustice, mistreatment and all the other unsolvable ills of the world. Read more
Published on March 7 2004 by L. Blumenthal
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, albeit slightly polemical, Warshawski
Sara Paretsky is an excellent writer and this latest in the V.I. Warshawski series is a worthy contribution. Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2004 by David S. Rose
2.0 out of 5 stars Blacklist this one....
Sara and V.I. need to take a long break. This was a plodding, boring, confused attempt to write a "socially relevant" novel. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong political message interwoven with plot
I found it a great read. But be forewarned that this book expresses a strong sense of political outrage at the current political clime and your reading enjoyment will be strongly... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2004 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Total Loser
If you want to read left-wing propoganda then this is the book for you. This series is in serious need of a transfusion, and this book doesn't offer it. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by tedj1957
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Follow
I used to enjoy the V.I. Warshawski novels, but no more. Blacklist has too many characters, none of which I really cared about. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by "skeywms"
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!!!
Kathleen Turner's V.I. was so hard to take that I swore to never pick up a Paretsky book. A couple of weeks ago, desperate for something to read, I picked up this book at a... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004 by WCD
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