Brush Back: 2015 Top Ten

Number 8 on my list is:

Private investigator V.I. Warshawski once again gets tangled up in the long reach of corrupt Illinois politicians. An old high school boyfriend, Frank Guzzo, asks her to look into the decades-old murder of his younger sister, Annie. Their mother, Stella, had been convicted of the crime, and now that she’s been released from prison, Stella is seeking exoneration.

Paretsky is a fabulous storyteller, and V.I. is one of the top fictional detectives ever. Paretsky has managed to keep the series fresh by weaving past and present through the stories, showing how actions and choices reverberate through generations.

One of the reasons I like this series so much is because of the main character. V.I. is smart and tough, plus she has a strong sense of justice and is deeply (but not foolishly) compassionate. She has close and sometimes quirky friends and family members, a satisfying love life, and loyal canine companions.

V.I. has also aged. Paretsky hasn’t shied away from dealing with that. In Brush Back, V.I. is starting to confront her physical limitations–there are only so many times a middle-aged woman can get punched, kicked, shot, and buried alive. She may have to start re-thinking how she handles cases.

The other reason this series is so strong is its sense of place. Chicago and V.I. are inseparable, each an indelible character. You can’t help wondering what will happen to them next.