Brush Back: A V. I. Warshawski Novel #17. Sarah Paretsky. Penguin Group (USA). July 2015. 480 pp. ISBN#: 9780399160578.
V. I. Warshawski is surprised when an old boyfriend, Frank Guzzo, approaches, literally begs, her for help with his mother, Stella. Stella recently finished serving twenty-five years in jail for murdering her daughter, Frank’s sister, Annie. Stella is a very tough lady who feeds, indeed seems to live, off her hate of V.I Warshawski and her family. It’s hard to see what made her as she is, but one thing for sure is her hate is venomous and she is capable of killing. The trouble Frank is asking help for now is that Stella is claiming she is totally innocent of killing Annie. At first Warshawski thinks that now Stella has returned from prison, she is trying to reinvent herself in the eyes of South Chicago. She reluctantly promises Frank she’ll give him a consultation gift of one hour of investigation and makes him sign a retainer that states he’s got to pay for anything beyond that. Little does she realize just how much more time will be involved in this investigation that is much larger than just Stella’s guilt or innocence.
Warshawski’s late cousin, Boom-Boom, used to be a huge hockey star but was killed and now Stella is saying he was responsible for Annie’s death. Warshawski, a private investigator sets about to prove this was wrong and finds herself enmeshed in a world where politics and sports run hand in hand. To say more would be to spoil a minute, step-by-step into the dregs of political corruption where the job will be done no matter how much money is required or violence must be carried out. In the process our private investigator will place her own life at risk.
The end of this story is surprising not only for a solution as to who committed several crimes a/k/a murders but in how Stella reacts to the end of this story.
Sarah Paretsky is masterful in crafting a tight tale where the grim setting of scenes parallels the grim reality of past and present criminals and their nefarious deeds. Readers who love a page-turning, riveting mystery and thriller will be very, very pleased with this latest installment of P.I. Warshawski’s sleuthing life!