‘Blacklist’ is Sara Paretsky’s 11th V.I. Warshawski novel featuring the invincible female private detective.
V.I.’s lover Morrel is still in Afghanistan researching and writing. She worries about him daily since he can’t always get to a computer to send an email to keep in touch. She is lonely and frightened and this has been made worse by the recent destruction of the World Trade Centre.
One of her long-standing clients asks her to carry out an unusual investigation for him. His 90 year old mother has been seeing lights at night in the abandoned mansion in which she grew up.
But when V.I. goes to investigate, she finds the body of a reporter. The local law quickly dismiss the death as suicide – they don’t really want to waste energy investigating the death of a black man in the wealthy white neighbourhood. V.I. is sure he was murdered and the man’s family hire her to investigate.
The reporter was investigating the life of a black dancer who found herself blacklisted during the McCarthy era of the 1950s when communists and suspected communists were persecuted. His investigation involved some of the residents of the wealthy area in which his body was found. Did he unearth some old secrets that someone wanted to keep buried?
Meanwhile, a young Egyptian boy has overstayed his visa and gone missing. In the current climate he is immediately labelled a terrorist.
Eventually the stories all come together- the sex and other scandals of the superrich in the 1950s, the McCarthy trials, the murder of a reporter and a frightened boy in hiding and fearing for his life. And of course V.I. is right in the middle trying to sort it all out. Along the way she befriends a rich teenager and a 90 year old woman who is used to ordering people around.
This was a fascinating book with many layers. There was the mystery itself but beyond that there was the comparison between the war on communism and the war on terror, between the rich and the poor and between whites and others.
My admiration for Paretsky’s writing grows with each novel that I read. I love her hero V.I. and her disrespect for authority and for money. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series – ‘Fire Sale’.
Book Published 2003