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by Sara Paretsky
G. P.Putnam's Sons, September 2003
416 pages
ISBN: 0399150854

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Twenty years ago, Sara Paretsky lassoed me into crime fiction. She's the grande dame of the modern genre and, along with Marcia Muller, is still setting standards for the rest to follow, proving that you can keep a long-running series fresh (Sue Grafton, please take note!)

Paretsky has always been at her best when personal meets political -- TOTAL RECALL, with its Holocaust memories, was one of her best, and BLACKLIST is pure dynamite. Itıs a crime novel with something to say post 9/11, but reminds us there's nothing new under the sun as Paretsky draws parallels between the McCarthy-era trials and the modern Patriot Act.

VI Warshawski is one of the most compelling of modern crime heroines. Courageous, tenacious, but utterly believable, she fights for the underdog in the best traditions of the genre. In BLACKLIST she is asked to investigate the death of a black journalist, who is found dead in a pond in a mainly white area.

You can guarantee a varied castlist in a Paretsky novel, and she's one of the few writers who can write convincingly across the class barriers (Elizabeth George, please take note!) In the almost too painful to read HARD TIME, Paretsky turned the searchlight on the prison system. In BLACKLIST we move between the worlds of the elderly, wealthy Geraldine Graham, and Benjamin Sadawi, the young Muslim boy working in kitchens to support his family in Eqypt. Old faces such as Bobby, Lotty and Mr Contreras (who, as usual, stays just this side of the utterly infuriating!) lurk around the sidelines. Morrell, VI's love interest is away in Afghanistan, and her fears for him nag away as the book progresses.

A new VI book is an event to be savoured, and BLACKLIST should be required reading for anyone who believes crime fiction has something to say about the world we live in. It is up there with John Morgan Wilson's BLIND EYE and Mark Haddon's THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME as my books of the year.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, October 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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