‘Hardball’ is the 13th novel in Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series featuring the Chicago based feminist female private detective. In this story a number of seemingly unrelated plots are brought together to a dramatic ending.
Lamont Gadsden disappeared 40 years ago but it is only now with his aunt Claudia close to death that she and his mother hire Vic (with very little money) to search for Lamont. Given the elapsed time, Vic does not hold out much hope for finding him. Vic tries to approach Lamont’s old friends. Those she can find refuse to give her any information. She can find no trace of his friend Steve who was convicted of the murder of a human rights activist during the Martin Luther King marches in Chicago in 1966.
Meanwhile, Vic’s cousin Petra has just arrived in Chicago from Kansas to work on the political campaign for a man who wants to become a senator. She pesters Vic into showing her the places that her father (Peter) grew up. The longer the novel goes on, the more we start to wonder about Petra’s real intentions. Is she really the sweet exuberant kid that she appears to be?
The more Vic tries to dig up information about Lamont, the more people seem to be intent on stopping her. As the people around Vic start getting killed, she starts to wonder if her presence is causing their deaths. She could really do with talking to Morrell, but after holidaying in Italy together they have decided to go their separate ways.
Many people who have long been a part of Vic’s life, including her beloved father Tony, seem to have played a part in events during and after the 1966 riots. Vic does not want to taint her memories of her father but finds it impossible to stop looking for answers.
Finally through a combination of determination and luck, she finds out what really happened in 1966 and in the aftermath – what happened to Lamont and the part that her father and others played in events at the time.
This is definitely one of my favourite novels in the series so far. Along with Vic maturing, Paretsky’s writing has also matured, so the series just keeps getting better. I’m looking forward to reading the next novel in the series – ‘Body Work’.
Book Published 2009