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Fire Sale [Hardcover]

Sara Paretsky


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Book Description

June 28 2005 V.I. Warshawski Novels
The astonishing new V. I. Warshawski novel from one of America's foremost writers of crime fiction.

V.I. Warshawski may have left her old South Chicago neighborhood, but she learns that she cannot escape it. When V.I. takes over coaching duties of the girls' basketball team at her former high school, she faces an ill-equipped, ragtag group of gangbangers, fundamentalists, and teenage moms who inevitably draw the detective into their family woes.

Through young Josie Dorrado, V.I. meets the girl's mother, who voices her worries about sabotage in the little flag manufacturing plant where she works. The biggest employer on the South Side, discount-store behemoth By-Smart, pays even less, and Ms. Dorrado doesn't know how she'll support her four children if the flag plant shuts down.

The elder Dorrado's fears are realized when the plant explodes; V.I. is injured and the owner is killed. As V.I. begins to investigate, she finds herself onfronting the Bysen family, who own the By-Smart company. Founder William "Buffalo Bill" Bysen, now in his eighties, has four sons who quarrel with each other and with him; the oldest, "Young Mr. William," is close to sixty and furious that his father doesn't cede more power to him. And then there's "Billy the Kid," Young Mr. William's nineteen-year-old son, whose Christian idealism puts him on a collision course with his father, his grandfather, and the company as a whole.

When Billy runs away with Josie Dorrado, V.I. is squeezed between the needs of two very different families. As she tries to find the errant teenagers, and to track down a particularly cruel murderer, her own life is almost forfeit in the swamps that lie under the city of Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: GP Putnam And Sons; 1st Edition edition (June 28 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399152792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399152795
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.2 x 3.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,136,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Private eye V.I. Warshawski takes a break from tony Lakeview to fill in for her old high school basketball coach on Chicago's South Side in her 12th adventure. Vic starts her volunteer stint looking for a team sponsor at megadiscount store By-Smart, whose founder, Buffalo Bill Bysen, is a fellow alum. Of all Bysen's cutthroat, cost-cutting family, only idealist 19-year-old Billy shows any interest in helping the team. When he disappears, his frustrated father hires Vic to find him. The mother of a high school basketball player also hires Vic to investigate sabotage at the flag factory where she works—an investigation cut short when the factory blows up before Vic's eyes. Things go no better at school or at home, and clues pile on but they don't add up. Vic takes her lumps as she makes her way from a fundamentalist church, where the pastor goes to extremes for his flock, to the city dump, where villains try to bury their secrets. Paretsky has recently tackled the Holocaust (Total Recall) and globalization (Hard Time); here she explores the struggles of the working poor and the schemes of the rich and infamous. Packed with social themes and moral energy, held together by humor, compassion and sheer feistiness, this novel shows why Paretsky and her heroine are such enduring figures in American detective fiction.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Long-running mystery series have a way of losing readers over time, but anyone who has drifted away from Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski should promptly return to the fold. The thirteenth Warshawski novel is one of the best, primarily because it takes V. I. back to her South Chicago roots, filling in fascinating backstory on the sleuth's evolution and effectively utilizing both the city's broad-shouldered past and its radically globalized present. V. I. returns to her old neighborhood--in the far southeast corner of Chicago--to fill in for her former high-school basketball coach, who is fighting cancer. Confronted by a dilapidated gym and a team made up mainly of gangbangers and single mothers, V. I. feels overwhelmed--for about five minutes, before she reacts with typical ferocity, driving her players and doggedly pursuing corporate funding for the team. It's the latter that takes her to By-Smart, South Chicago's main employer, run by a bigoted, born-again billionaire. Soon V. I. is caught in the middle of a Romeo and Juliet romance between the son of Mr. By-Smart and the daughter of a Latina single mother, whose employer's factory has just been destroyed by fire. Paretsky has never been better than she is here at evoking a sense of place--abandoned and rusting steel mills casting long shadows over the difficult lives of largely immigrant families. Nothing seems forced as Paretsky plays socioeconomic realities against a universal story of passion and jealousy, building the plot from the marshy ground up and allowing Chicago to muscle its way into a costarring role. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Going back to South Chicago has always felt to me like a return to death. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  53 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the Best in her Field. Nov. 2 2005
By N. Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sara Paretsky, along with Marcia Muller, created a subgenre in the mystery field with her series of Warshawski novels. And from the beginning, she stood apart from the rest by looking at the important issues of our time, framing them in the lives of ordinary people, while using the conventions of the genre to hook readers into compelling plots, dialogue and...suspense and action.

Like P. Schumacher, I have often compared her to Dickens because of her ability to create fabulous characters (including some terrific villains) while making complex political issues accessible to people who otherwise are turned off to politics.

In taking on the Walmartization of America, she has plenty of material. And she explores the issue from a variety of angles, including from the point of view of people forced by circumstance to be trapped in chronic underemployment. At the same time, she shows how the predatory practices of BigBox America destroys communities, including small business.

Any she does this while weaving a darn good story.

However, I would suggest the reader avoid at all costs the Brilliance Audio edition as voiced by the worst narrator working in AudioBooks today. Sandra Burr, despite the "spotlight" reviewer's opinion is totally wrong from this or any book for adults. She has no understanding of the characters or the book's subject matter, and her characterizations truly hurt the book. She is distracting when she gives a 19 year old young man the voice of a 12 year old girl....and everytime she does dialogue, my immediate impulse was to to track to down Paretsky's agent and demand she renegotiate her contract with Brilliance.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paretsky is better than ever July 4 2005
By MaryMac_SC - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I don't know about you, but I've had some disappointments of late with some of my favorite mystery authors. Let's not name names. You know you agree with me: they're writing too many books and putting too little into them.

But not Sara Paretsky! I've been a fan for years, and the V.I. books just keep getting better. This one is well-written with a great plot line. It's a treat you owe yourself for the heat of this summer.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Action, Low on Human Interest Oct. 17 2006
By Lois Lain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Paretsky is the master of the modern female private eye, and V.I. Warshawski set the tone for many of the female detectives who followed -- Kinsey Millhone, Sheriff Joanna Brady, etc. The latest in Paretsky's series offers readers a strong plot with vivid action scenes, and a nice mellowing of V.I.'s personality. The early books in the series were so tainted with her anger at life in general that I found them difficult to read. Now, V.I., seems to have sheared off some of her rough edges, leaving behind a lot of the "tough gal" persona that flavored the early works.

This book has many strengths, including memorable characters, much action, a strong setting, and seamless prose. However, I wonder if Paretsky is getting tired as V.I. is mellowing? The plot was a bit shaky (V.I. had a bit too much of a free pass into offices that no one would allow her to gain access to, and her reasons for becoming involved in the shady business of the South Side were tenuous at best). And many characters are thinly drawn caricatures (the Poor Little Rich Boy in love with the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, the minority mother who works hard to keep off welfare, the heartless businessmen who cry "family values" but who will do anything to stay ahead, etc.). And even many of the old standbys (Lottie, Mr. Contreras, Conrad) seemed a bit tired of their roles, just popping on stage and then off again with no emotion or involvement.

Overall, I rate this book highly because of its action and writing. But Paretsky may have to start relying on real human interaction for interest, instead of just sending V.I. on another trip to the emergency room.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous South Chicago mystery June 29 2005
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Private Investigator V.I. Warshawski says no when her former basketball coach at Bertha Palmer High School Ms. McFarlane asks her to take over the girl's team until she can come back to work or another volunteer surfaces. The coach reminds Victoria that basketball enabled her to get a scholarship to the U of Chicago. That fails to move Victoria, but when Coach mentions she is having cancer surgery implying she will never return Vic reluctantly takes over the sixteen girl squad that includes gang members and a center with two kids.

One of the team's stars Josie Dorrado asks Ms. Warshawski to talk with her mother who is concerned with rumors she overheard that someone is going to blow up By Smart's nearby manufacturing plant. If this happens many people including the older Dorrado will be out of work as By Smart is the biggest employee besides maybe the gangs in the depressed South Chicago. In spite of expecting nothing, Vic. goes to check out the tip when the explosion occurs. At about the same time, Josie and Billy Young, grandson of the By-Smart owner, run away. Vic hopes to find the teens before they get into trouble and also uncover who blew up the plant killing someone she knows while recovering from injuries and finally coaching teen basketball.

The who-done-it starts late, as Sara Paretsky provides her fans with an absorbing tour of Warshawski's old neighborhood. The team is delightful to follow with their fights, clichés, and camaraderie with several having unique personalities. More personal than usual, FIRE SALE is a fabulous South Chicago mystery that provides an interesting new side to V.I. that of mentoring coach. Sara Paretsky talent shines through with each book she writes.

Harriet Klausner
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN ACES DETECTIVE STORY READING July 19 2005
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Able voice performer Sandra Burr gives another aces reading as she takes on the persona of dauntless private detective V. I. Warshawski. There's humor, suspense, drama and, perhaps best of all, V.I. on her old stomping grounds, the South side of Chicago.

She's returned there on a kind of errand of mercy - filling in for the coach of the girl's basketball team at her old high school. Such girls V.I. didn't see when she was in high school - high-strung, unmarried moms, a bit of a motley bunch. Nonetheless, V.I. digs in with her usual vigor and sets out to get some corporate backing for the team. First stop is By-Smart, a hugely successful discount store owned by one of her former classmates, Buffalo Bill Bysen. Seems that helping the team isn't high on Buffalo Bill's agenda. Nor, in actuality, is seeing V.I. again. That is until his son disappears.

The vanished young Bysen isn't V.I.'s only challenge - a mother of one of her team members suggests there's foul play at the factory where she works. That's an understatement because the factory soon explodes injuring V.I. and killing the owner.

As V.I.'s investigation continues she also finds an updated West Side Story only from the South Side of Chicago - Bysen's son has run away with a young Latina.

Although this is Paretsky's 12th time out with a Warshawski novel, V.I. is as fresh and appealing as ever.

Good listening for detective story fans.

- Gail Cooke
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