Brush Back

Finished Brush Back by Sara Paretsky.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Chicago’s V. I. Warshawski confronts crooked politicians and buried family secrets in the gritty new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Sara Paretsky.

No one would accuse V. I. Warshawski of backing down from a fight, but there are a few she’d be happy to avoid. High on that list is tangling with Chicago political bosses. Yet that’s precisely what she ends up doing when she responds to Frank Guzzo’s plea for help.

For six stormy weeks back in high school, V.I. thought she was in love with Frank. He broke up with her, she went off to college, he started driving trucks for Bagby Haulage. She forgot about him until the day his mother was convicted of bludgeoning his kid sister, Annie, to death. Stella Guzzo was an angry, uncooperative prisoner and did a full twenty-five years for her daughter’s murder.

Newly released from prison, Stella is looking for exoneration, so Frank asks V.I. for help. V.I. doesn’t want to get involved. Stella hated the Warshawskis, in particular V.I.’s adored mother, Gabriella.

But life has been hard on Frank and on V.I.’s other childhood friends, still stuck on the hardscrabble streets around the dead steel mills, and V.I. agrees to ask a few questions. Those questions lead her straight into the vipers’ nest of Illinois politics she’s wanted to avoid. When V.I. takes a beating at a youth meeting in her old hood, her main question becomes whether she will live long enough to find answers.”

If you’ve ever spent any time on this blog, you’ve probably heard me speak of my love for Sara Paretsky and VI Warshawski.  (If not, just trust me: they are two of my favorites.)  It seems like a new VI Warshawski novel shows up just when I need it most, and this time was no exception.

I love how these novels are political.  (Warning: if you are conservative, you will probably not appreciate this as much, but our politics align nicely, so…)

It’s not exactly a secret that VI’s family is a major sore spot for her, for lack of a better term.  She loved her parents and cousin fiercely and the best way to get her to do something is to attack them.  (So the fact that Stella Guzzo basically slanders all three is a majorly dumb move.)  I don’t want to discuss the plot too much, but it was really nice to hear more about her hockey-playing cousin Boom Boom.

My favorite part, though, is how the most recent novels are definitely set in the present but also give us a major glimpse into VI’s past or Lotte’s past.  I love Lotte too, and more time with her is a great thing.  Maybe we can get more Mr. Contreras next time; he was largely absent in this book.  (That is literally my only complaint.)

Here’s hoping the next two years fly by; I miss VI already.

Highly recommended.



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