V.I. Warshawski and I have been together for a long time. How long? I’d say that I finally discovered her in the 1990s, when I realized there was such a thing as a female private investigator mystery (until then, most of my mysteries had been centered around the elderly British detectives). The series has its ups and downs, with some of the books a delight and some full of mind-numbingly complex plots, but all very much trademark V.I.: full of Southside Chicago grit, feminist takes, and incorporating current issues. For me, Overboard was one of the series highlights, tempering the V.I. attitude and combining it with an intriguing plot.
Plotting is, as always, multifaceted. Paretsky rarely wastes time on a straightforward murder investigation; her books are never so facile. Trademark Paretsky writing is how seemingly unconnected incidents end up related by the final chapters. Overboard begins with V.I. providing security at a vandalized synagogue, and discovers a battered and burned teen on the way home one night from the synagogue. Not long after, she is approached by the child of a childhood friend of her brother’s on a family issue. As a reader, sometime it is hard to know which crime I should be paying the most attention to, particularly at Paretsky seems to give them all equal page time. Never fear; she’ll be performing her usual tricks.
Paretsky wrote in the afterword that it was a hard book for her to write, created during Covid quarantine. I think she was working some of that out in the book with Vic, as it takes place just after vaccine release. Your own reaction to that time may impact your read; I found I had moments of discomfort. It appears I’d rather not re-visit much of that time period.
The was perhaps a little hand-waving at the end, but I appreciated the resolution. Definitely a solid and engrossing break from the non-fiction I’ve been reading lately. Highly recommended if you are a fan of the series. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s probably not a bad place to start.
Should i start with the first book? I’d like to read a female detective story and I have never read Paretsky (somehow)
I’d probably start right here 🙂 This stands alone and meets modern sensibilities. The first one was written in 1982, if I remember right (or 1992) so feels more period, obvoiusly.
So glad to see your review of this book. I’ve read all of Sara Paretsky’s books, love them, but somehow missed this one.
Hope you enjoy it!