‘Hard Time’ is the 9th book in the V.I. Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky and was written after a 5 year break from the series. V.I. is also a bit older and is finding it more difficult to recover from the abuse under which she places her body.
Global Entertainment now owns the Chicago Herald-Star newspaper. V.I.’s good friend, reporter Murray Ryerson must toe the Global line to keep his job. He has become the host of a TV show and is no longer involved in investigative journalism.
Murray is celebrating his debut with a party. On her way home from the party, V.I. nearly runs over an injured woman. She swerves and causes possibly irreparable damage to her beloved sports car. The injured woman Nicola Aguinaldo later dies. Her body disappears before an autopsy can be performed. Now V.I. is being framed for killing her. V.I. can refute the charges, but it is obvious that Detective Lemour is out to get her. All of this just raises V.I’s interest in Nicola’s death.
Pretty soon V.I. finds herself framed for other crimes. She is arrested and finds herself held in the Coolis correctional facility, a combined prison and jail run by Baladine security services who also have links to Global Entertainment.
Rather than being bailed, V.I. decides to stay at Coolis to investigate Nicola’s death. Nicola supposedly escaped from the prison just before she was killed.
The abuses heaped on the women at Coolis are incredible. The women are physically and sexually abused by guards and their sense of hopelessness leads to fights. V.I. is eventually able to find out what happened to Nicola but only by nearly being killed herself.
This was the best book in the series so far. We met some fascinating new characters. Morrell, a human rights investigator may be a new love interest in V.I.’s life. Father Lou is a crusty old priest who helps V.I. Young Robbie Baladine is persecuted by his family for not being manly enough. My only real disappointment with the story was that Paretsky felt it necessary to make a man of poor sweet Robbie in the end.
This book has reignited my passion for this series and I can hardly wait to read the next book –‘Total Recall’.
Book Published 1999