Stubbornness has landed private eye V.I. Warshawski in big trouble at her Chicago office. With her grand old Loop building set to be razed, she's become a hold-out tenant amid frayed wiring and scary, empty corridors. Then she finds a homeless woman with three kids in the basement, and before she can rescue them, they disappear. Worst of all, she's been implicated in a murder--after the body of Deirdre Messenger, a prominent lawyer's wife, turns up sprawled across her desk.
V.I., who had volunteered with Deirdre at a women's shelter, suspects her death is linked to a case of upper-class domestic abuse so slickly concealed that the police refuse to believe it. Increasingly at odds with the cops, V.I. is blindly plunging ahead after the truth. And her path may lead to corruption at the highest levels.or deep into the abandoned tunnels beneath Chicago's streets, where secrets are hiding in the dark like a child's--or V.I.'s--worst nightmare.
As prickly and principled as ever, Chicago's preeminent female PI, V.I. Warshawski, forcefully unravels several knotted mysteries in Paretsky's ( Guardian Angel ) latest complex, satisfying novel. V.I. encounters a homeless woman and her children in the basement of her derelict downtown office building. When she mentions the family at a board meeting of a shelter for abused women, board member Deirdre Messenger offers to seek help from Home Free, another organization she is involved with. Soon, however, Deirdre's bludgeoned body is found in V.I.'s office. Setting out to find the murderer, the almost-40 detective gradually uncovers a mammoth financial scam that may link the dead woman's husband (an ambitious University of Chicago Law School professor), the ranking U.S. Senator from Illinois, a Chicago bank owner and Home Free's director, a radical activist who was at law school with V.I. in the '60s. Equally compelling--to V.I. and the reader--are the plights of the homeless family and of the Messenger children, teenaged Emily and her two young brothers, who disappear soon after their mother's death. Breaking laws and alienating friends--including her lover Conrad, a Chicago police detective--V.I. faces down rats in high places and low, from the cornfields of the Senator's agribusiness to the tunnels, deep under the Chicago Loop, flooded by a water-main break. Paretsky's V.I. is a rare literary entity, a woman quick to anger and action, yet sympathetic and credible. Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections.