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Fire Sale

by Sara Paretsky

This is a fairly ripping yarn set in inner-city Chicago, much in the same vein as a Scott Turow blockbuster. From the subtitle 'A V. I. Warshawski novel' and a few hints in the text, I get the impression that this fiesty private investigator stars in a whole series of thrillers, and good on her; she's worth it!

It's a first-person thriller with a social conscience, in fact there's an mostly plausable set of characters here with a whole panoply of motives, emotions, flaws and feelings to keep you entwined in a mystery which we peel back layer-by-layer. Even the evil uber-capitalist family firm has its surprises. This book is big on shocks and hooks at every turn. It can be a bit heavy going though, trying to keep track of so many people and subplots. You can complain you ain't getting your money's worth.

Our heroine goes back to her old school to coach basketball (after her old coach catches cancer), a service she approaches with evangelical but world-weary zeal (yes, that's quite a tall order but she manages it) in a mission to keep the ex-Mex girls in education and out of the maternity ward. Five minutes back in gangland she's asked to help out investigate some shady goings-on at 'Fly the Flag', a local factory which ends up in flames. And from there on it just gets nastier and more mysterious.