‘Fire Sale’ is the 12th novel is Sara Paretsky’s series featuring the tough female private investigator V.I. Warshawski.
V.I. really doesn’t like returning to her childhood neighbourhood of South Chicago. But when the basketball coach of her old high school gets sick, she reluctantly agrees to help out. She discovers that some of the players are quite good and could be a lot better if they had decent facilities and a proper coach. So she sets about trying to find a sponsor for the team.
The global By-smart company has its headquarters in the area, so V.I. sees them as the logical sponsor and young Billy Bysen, grandson of the owner, is enthusiastic. But once again she has encountered a wealthy company with no social conscience. They pay their workers the minimum possible wage and find ways of avoiding paying benefits when they can. The founder of the company, Buffalo Bill Bysen describes the sponsorship deal as giving handouts to welfare recipients.
But V.I. has always had trouble accepting no for an answer and her brief time at By-Smart has left her curious about some possible irregularities. Then a small company making product for By-Smart has its factory blown up, killing the owner. Now V.I. feels obliged to launch herself into a full scale investigation, particularly when young Billy and his girlfriend (a member of the basketball team) go missing.
The closer V.I. gets to the truth, the more people want to stop her investigation. Then there are more murders and V.I. is almost one of them.
But finally she finds out what is going on and she has the evidence to prove it.
This was another great combination of mystery and social commentary. I don’t know how close to the truth these books are but I’m glad I’m not poor in America. I can’t quite process the idea of dying because you can’t afford health care.
This book didn’t contain much on V.I.’s personal relationships. Her lover Morrell was there but the relationship seemed to be struggling. V.I.’s good friend Lotty was barely mentioned. I missed the intense interactions that are in most of the novels.
Still, this was a good read and I’m looking forward to the next in the series – ‘Hardball’.
Book Published 2005