Blood Shot

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Once again V. I. Warshawski begins her day expecting to play with bunny rabbits and finds herself directly in the path of an enraged Cape buffalo with a full head of steam. In her last outing, BITTER MEDICINE, Warshawski found a simple errand for a friend turned, by the force of circumstance, into a dangerous and painful investigation of fraud and malpractice within the medical community. BLOOD SHOT develops from an equally innocuous beginning.

A former neighbor, whose mother is dying, has a simple request: Identify and locate the man who impregnated her mother some twenty-five years earlier and left her, virtually destitute, to rear the child alone. Warshawski is reluctant to undertake the assignment, especially because the mother is quite adamant that her daughter should not learn the truth. Still, a promise is a promise, and Warshawski soon finds herself involved in much more than she expected: environmental pollution, civic corruption, child abuse, murder, insurance fraud, and the criminal actions of a large and influential international corporation.

Furthermore, Warshawski is unable to convince anyone that the only item on her agenda is a simple matter of paternity. In consequence, she comes within an inch of losing her own life in a particularly unpleasant manner.

BLOOD SHOT is the fifth episode in the saga of a “tough-as nails” female detective who fits easily in the rough-and-tumble world of the “city of the big shoulders” despite her gender. Moreover, despite the fact that she come of age in Iowa and Kansas, Sara Paretsky describes with ease and familiarity the ethnic environment of South Chicago--where little has changed in matters of politics or morals since Dwight Eisenhower was president. It is possible that Warshawski is beginning to mellow a bit, but neither she nor her creator suffers fools, villains, or bigots with equanimity.