reviewed by Fiona Cook
A young girl, badly burned, is found by Chicago’s most dogged and intelligent private investigator, V.I. Warshawski. Quickly proving that no good deed goes unpunished, her rescue of the teenager quickly pulls Sara Paretsky’s heroine into a tangled web of conspiracy and corruption in Overboard, the twenty-first in her enduring series.
To call Sara Paretsky and Vic Warshawski institutions would be to undersell it at this point. Forty years strong this year, this series has continued to evolve with each novel released, while the quality and heart of these books has remained as consistently excellent as ever. Each entry stands alone, with plenty of context to ensure those new to the series aren’t confused, while allowing the author to maintain a network of characters that long term readers will recognize from previous adventures. There’s a whole world here, full of individuals that feel real and add a rich, deep, background to an intricately plotted mystery.
And what a mystery it is – it’s nothing unusual to see Vic Warshawski taking on intrigues that are as multi-layered as they are mysterious, but Sara Paretsky really takes plotting to a new level. Ranging from corrupt police to the aged-care industry, shady developers to neighborhood thugs, Overboard contains an intriguing mystery that kept me guessing all the way to the end. As is tradition now for Sara Paretsky, that central plot is surrounded by the “meat and potatoes” work of Vic’s regular, smaller clientele, and it allowed for breaks in the tension without letting the momentum drop. It also emphasizes the kindness and community that differentiates our heroine from so many of her counterparts – no matter what is happening around her, Vic truly cares about the people close to her, and it shows.
This was an excellent book, one I enjoyed greatly and that I feel shows just what can be accomplished by a great writer building on decades of experience. Overboard makes full use of a world that’s been developing over forty years, and one I hope to see continuing to grow for many more years to come.