Total Recall by Sara Paretsky

‘Total Recall’ is the 10th V.I. Warshawski novel by Sara Paretsky and the first one written this century. The female Chicago based private detective is now in her 40s but not really slowing down on physical activity (work or personal).

The story begins with a case of insurance fraud. When Gertrude Sommers tries to claim on her husband’s policy after his death, she finds that the money was claimed 10 years earlier – with a seemingly valid death certificate. So V.I. starts to investigate how this could possibly have happened.

At the same time, the Holocaust Assets Recovery issue is being debated, along with assets recovery for descendants of slaves.

In the midst of this turmoil, Paul Radbuka appears on the scene. He has just recovered his memories of surviving the holocaust as a young child and being brought to America by a Nazi in hiding. He has decided he must be related to V.I.’s friend Max Loewenthal.

All these stories end up being linked as well as the painful past of V.I.’s friend Lotty Herschel who was sent from Austria to England at the age of 10 to escape Europe before the war started.

So V.I. is chasing down a single insurance fraud that has the potential to be much larger, Max and his family are being stalked by Paul and Lotty is falling apart at the seams. V.I.’s lover, human rights lawyer Morell, has gone to Afghanistan to study the Taliban.

And as V.I. gets closer to the truth (yes corporate greed is once again at the heart of the story) the bad guys get more and more serious about keeping their secrets.


The books in this series are brash and loud with lots of violence and not much subtlety, but every now and then one of the books takes hold of my heart. Lotty’s story running through the background of this book was incredibly touching.

This would have to be the best book so far in this series and I’m looking forward to reading the next one – ‘Blacklist’.


Book Published 2001


See a full list of books by Sara Paretsky

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