Sara Paretsky has managed to put both her late husband as well as her dog into Overboard, her latest crime novel. Those are among the lighter points in what of necessity has to be a dark book. Even Covid, which features naturally, is nowhere near as dark as the situations caused by certain human beings. If one can call them that.
Chicago continues to be an interesting backdrop to V I Warshawski’s detecting, but what was once ‘merely’ a city with much crime in it, we now see what it has become through the behaviour of so many ruthless and powerful men. In that it mirrors what goes on in many other places, but it does mean that when reading Overboard you don’t feel that everything will be all right in the end, because it just seems impossible that so much bad can be turned into good, even by someone like V I.
We meet two separate teenagers with problems, and the positive thing about their age is that we see what they are capable of achieving, and you hope Sara won’t kill her young characters. We also reconnect with others from V I’s past; both crooks and decent people, which adds depth to the story. She knows things about these people, making their relationships different from a detective simply hunting bad men. Because they are mostly men.
It’s the weaving together of strands about money and greed, immigrants fearing for their very existence, old people who are mistreated, the persecution of Jews, the criminal intent of the police, the homeless, torturers, the press, and V I’s own fears and hopes that makes Sara’s story so great.
Because even if it can’t end with everyone living happily ever after, you do get a sense of satisfaction when good and ordinary people get together to put wrongs right. Please let there be many more books like this!