‘Blood Shot/ Toxic Shock’ is the 5th book in the V.I. Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky and once again has V.I. putting her life in danger to solve a mystery.
The South side of Chicago where V.I. grew up was always a poorer working class area. Now, returning after many years absence, V.I. finds that with the closure of many factories, the area is even more run down. V.I. returns for a reunion of her school basketball team but is soon approached by her childhood neighbour Caroline to carry out an investigation.
Caroline’s mother Louisa moved into the neighbourhood when she was 15 and pregnant. Now she is dying and still refusing to name Caroline’s father. Caroline wants V.I. to find her father’s identity before it’s too late.
But as soon as V.I. starts to investigate Louisa’s past and starts to ask questions at the Xerxes solvent factory at which Louisa worked, a lot of the more prominent businessmen in the area start to get upset. Louisa’s family refuse to tell her anything and throw her out.
Caroline is obviously being pressured as well because she asks V.I. to drop the investigation. But once V.I. starts, she can’t stop and it is becoming increasingly obvious that there has been some sort of long-term cover-up at the Xerxes plant. Even the murder of one of V.I.’s old friends doesn’t slow her down for long.
When V.I. gets attacked and left for dead, she just becomes more clever in her approach until she eventually uncovers the secret that the owners of Xerxes have been trying to hide. But the identity of Caroline’s father is just as big a shock to all concerned.
This story was so action packed that I had trouble putting it down. I can completely sympathise with V.I. not wanting to return to the old neighbourhood where values and the role of women haven’t changed much since the 1950s and the corrupt businessmen continue to keep the poor in their place.
There were some real fireworks between the feisty V.I. and her temperamental childhood friend Caroline. I wondered if they would ever manage to resolve anything.
I’m really enjoying this series and can’t wait to read the next one – ‘Burn Marks’.
Book Published 1988