Pay Dirt

by Sara Paretsky

Monday, June 17, 2024

Featured image for Pay Dirt

I feel like all my reviews of VI Warshawski books go much the same way. She’s my favourite and I’m so glad she’s still going and still good. This one is going to be no different. There’s a glaringly awful error on the back cover of this copy - there’s a snippet of a review that claims the series is 50 years old. The first book was published in 1982, which was 42 years ago by my count. I didn’t discover the books until the 1990s but I still feel like I’ve grown up with Vic. One of the weird things about counting a fictional character among your friends is that they don’t grow old at the same rate as you. Vic was quite a lot older than me when we met but now I think she’s much the same age as me.

This book takes her away from Chicago to Lawrence in Kansas, where this series has been before and Paretsky has also written about the city in standalone novels. It’s Paretsky’s home town. Although part of the fun of any long running series is meeting up with the same cast of characters over many years I was pleased there were a couple of new ones who felt like they could appear again introduced here with the new setting. And I liked the space created without the regulars all having to have a cameo (they still did, but with smaller roles than is usually the case). And this bit is tricky to write about as it feels wrong to enjoy someone else’s trauma even when it’s fictional, but I liked that Vic was battling problems here, she always has been but in this book there was more recognition of the toll years of dealing with all the bad guys have taken on her. That she’s bouncing back from that a bit less now makes sense. And I like how the issues she’s dealing with have changed over the series as well as how the crimes have always been the kind of problems the real world is dealing with at the time.

At the end of the book Sara Paretsky notes that she’s working on another project and VI is having a break but she’ll be back. I think she deserves the break and I certainly hope she’s back for more.