Book Review: FALLOUT

Author: Sara Paretsky
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062663186
Genre: Crime Fiction


Before there was Lisbeth Salander, before there was Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. WARSHAWSKI. To her parents, she’s Victoria Iphigenia. To her friends, she’s Vic. But to clients seeking her talents as a detective, she’sV.I. And her new case will lead her from her native Chicago… and into Kansas, on the trail of a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star.

Accompanied by her dog, Peppy, V.I. tracks her quarry through a university town, across fields where missile silos once flourished — and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions, a past that holds the key to the crimes of the present. But as the mysteries stack up, so does the body count. And in this, her toughest case, not even V.I. is safe.


FALLOUT is Sara Paretsky’s 18th novel in the V. I. Warshawski detective novel series. And instead of being at home, in the safe and familiar confines of Chicago, Paretsky has Vic off on a road trip to Lawrence, Kansas. Vic has been hired by her wayward niece, and in-training hockey player, Bernadine ‘Bernie’ Fouchard, to look for her friend, August Veriden, who is missing after being accused of ransacking the gym where he worked.

But, as anyone who reads Paretsky’s Warshawski series knows, everything is never as it seems.

It turns out, Veriden left Chicago with aging black actress, Emerald Ferring, ostensibly to film Ferring’s ‘origins’ documentary. But, somewhere along the road, the two have gone missing.

This is the set-up to have Vic follow their route, and uncover more than she bargained for. For Lawrence, Kansas, where the University of Kansas is located, has more buried secrets than the CIA. And as Vic digs into the pair’s mysterious disappearance, she starts to uncover layers of deceit, lies, moral ambiguity and ultimately, a cover-up worthy of Watergate that puts Vic in the line of fire.

Every character in this book is there for a reason, and carries the weight of an intricate story that Paretsky skillfully pulls together, meshing a seemingly random number of loose threads, into a tightly woven tapestry, that’s both thrilling, revealing, and oh so plausible.

Of all the characters Paretsky gives us though, none quite match up to the two who I found the most intriguing: professor Nathan Kiel and his wife, Sonia. Bombastic, loud, outrageous, and thoroughly reprehensible, nonetheless, they are the train wreck you can’t help but stare at. They are, in essence, Burton and Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” majestically flawed on a whole other level.

The plot, on a whole, holds up without too much scrutiny, much of which is due to the expert writing skills of Paretsky who, once again, delivers a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Fallout is just that, the human, emotional, and physical costs of years of lies, deceit, and betrayal.

Rating : 8 / 10

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  1. Intriguing! Sounds like an awesome novel and series a whole, and I love different threads coming together in a magnificent way! Brilliant review Alexandra ❤️❤️

    • Alexandra
      December 31, 2019

      Aww, thanks, Inge, that means a lot coming from you. Like you, I try to capture what the story is about without giving away any of the plot. And yes, this series has been fun. Paretsky always manages to come up with something different.

  2. Beware Of The Reader
    December 30, 2019

    And this my friend is how you write a smart review! LOL But the blurb says….before Stephanie Plum? So I get this is filled with humor and quirk!

    • Alexandra
      December 30, 2019

      Funnily enough, yes, Sophie. There’s always a certain level of dry and wry humour in Paretsky’s novels. And some of her characters always have a “smart” mouth on them. So between the drama there’s always a lighter moment or two to break it up a bit and make the reader smile.

      • January 7, 2020

        Ha! Came here to ask this! I have a friend who read most Stephanie Plum books and told me to read them, cuz they are so funny. So was wondering if this one is also more on the funny or more on the Lisbeth Salander side 😀

        • Alexandra
          January 7, 2020

          Actually, the humour is very dry/droll rather than funny on Ha! Ha! stuff. I’ve never read either Stephanie Plum or Lisbeth Salander. One is too silly and the other too violent for me. Paretsky doesn’t write like either, IMHO. 😀

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