Breakdown

Read Chapter One of Breakdown.

Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago’s Carmilla Club hold an initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetery, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying.

The girls include daughters of some of Chicago’s most powerful families: The grandfather of one, Chaim Salanter, is one of the world’s wealthiest men; the mother of another, Sophy Durango, is the Illinois Democratic candidate for Senate.

For V. I. Warshawski, the questions multiply faster than the answers. Is the killing linked to a hostile media campaign against Sophy Durango? Or to Chaim Salanter’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Lithuania? As V.I. struggles for answers, she finds herself fighting enemies who are all too human.

Reviews and Quotes

“All of V.I.’s other powers, however, as well as those of her creator, Sara Paretsky, are as vital and limber as they were 20 years ago when she first charged down the mean streets of Chicago and into hard-boiled history in her debut adventure, Indemnity Only. If anything, the Warshawksi novels have only grown better: more ambitious in their construction and fiercer both in their feminist politics and in their commitment to storylines about social justice. A typical Warshawski investigation not only zooms in on the genre’s “usual suspects” (greedy opportunists, professional con artists, dysfunctional families), but also the larger social ills plaguing contemporary America.” — NPR, “A Breakdown Full of Thrills, Chills, and Social Ills”, January 6, 2012

“Thirty years ago, mystery writer Sara Paretsky published her first novel starring intrepid Chicago P.I. V.I. Warshawski. On Tuesday, Paretsky will publish her latest Warshawski novel, Breakdown (Putnam, $26.95).” — USA Today “Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski Celebrates 30th Anniversary”, December 28, 2011

“What really matters in a Sara Paretsky mystery are the crimes behind the crimes — the corrupt politics, the class divisions, the economic inequities, the dirty business practices and all the other injustices that incite the wicked deeds we love to read about.” — NY Times, “Politics as Blood Sport,” January 6, 2012

“At the start of MWA Grand Master Paretsky’s riveting 15th novel featuring Chicago PI V.I. Warshawski (after 2010’s Body Work), Warshawski goes in search of several 12- and 13-year-old girls, members of her cousin Petra’s book club, who are out after curfew. Warshawski finds the girls in a cemetery, steps away from a recently deceased man, Miles Wuchnik, who she later learns was an unscrupulous PI. Media attention on two of the girls—the daughter of Sophy Durango, a liberal U.S. Senate candidate, and the granddaughter of Chaim Salanter, a wealthy Jewish businessman linked to Durango’s campaign—intensifies an already mudslinging political race, particularly when it’s revealed that the girls were trying to perform a “vampire” ritual from their favorite supernatural novel.” — Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review, November 28, 2011