Overboard – Sara Paretsky

Overboard meets the high standards Sara Paretsky has set for this always engaging, well-plotted series with great characters… including as a character the windy city. This is the first time I read a V.I. Warshawski novel via audible and I definitely had some “driveway” moments where I sat to listen to the next ten, no– twenty, no…. thirty minutes. Overboard takes us to the old neighborhood and to Goose Island, home to industrial and contractor sites and a mansion that takes on important meaning in the story of development in Chicago. We meet old and new players in the organized crime scene, reformed and unreformed childhood acquaintances and people with deadly intentions towards V.I. and others.

The novel opens, when the dogs find a barely alive teenage girl on some rocks. Something terrible has happened to her but V.I. has only one word to go on as the mystery of this Jane Doe unfolds. A very nasty “bad” cop is way too quick to make (false) connections between V.I. and Jane Doe, going to extremes to mess with Vic. Meanwhile, a synagogue she helps out, its members all elderly, is vandalized and she learns a rather shady developer would love to buy the property. Is this a hate crime or is this developer after something? For various spoiler reasons, V.I.’s attention is drawn to the Archangel nursing home/rehab and memory care center. She also is approached for help by the teenaged son of an older neighborhood acquaintance. The guy she knew as a teen, Donnie Litvak, was one of five abused siblings who ran the streets and got into trouble to varying degrees. The kids are all brainy and both close to one another and a mess in their relationships. Donny’s son (is it Brad or Branwell?) is navigating the difficulties of being his hostile parents’ son and a phone conversation he overheard that sounded like his father was threatened. All the clues are there and the usual players are present, including my favorite inanimate objects ( Vic’s mother’s venetian glasses and diamond drop earrings) and Italian opera. COVID-19 is in the background throughout. A fully satisfying read.

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