Sara Paretsky Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Sara Paretsky is notable in the mystery and detective genre for her ability to shift the conventions of the hard-boiled private investigator tradition to a female character. Her V. I. Warshawski is a tough-minded, able woman whose gender does not hamper her in the line of duty. Paretsky takes many opportunities to play against the expectations of the genre and to point out the competence of women in roles traditionally held by men. Paretsky imbues Warshawski with wit, cynicism, and a feminist perspective that allows her to deliver sardonic observations about her interactions and adventures. One of the most sharply drawn of the first wave of female private investigators, Paretsky’s protagonist has also paved the way for subsequent, equally distinctive, generations of the breed. Warshawski is one of the most sharply drawn of the steadily growing tribe of female private investigators. In 1992 Paretsky received an Anthony Award for A Woman’s Eye (1991), a collection she edited. The Crime Writers’ Association awarded Paretsky a Silver Dagger for Blood Shot (1988; published in England as Toxic Shock), a Gold Dagger for Blacklist (2003), and a Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement in 2002.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Jones, Manina. “Shot/Reverse Shot: Dis-solving the Feminist Detective Story in Kanew’s Film V. I. Warshawski.” In Diversity and Detective Fiction, edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1999. Jones proclaims the film, based on Paretsky’s first two novels, a “marketing concept” and contrasts the Disney version of the character with Paretsky’s subversive detective.

Kinsman, Margaret. “A Band of Sisters.” In The Art of Detective Fiction, edited by Warren Chernaik, Martin Swales, and Robert Vilain. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Kingsman discusses the importance of women’s friendships in the V. I. Warshawski novels.

Knight, Stephen. Crime Fiction, 1800-2000: Detection, Death, Diversity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Devotes significant discussion to Paretsky as a dominant force both in contemporary hard-boiled detective novels and in the increasing presence in fiction of female private eyes.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. The many references to Paretsky in this nearly comprehensive work testifies to the importance of the writer within and beyond her genre.

Mizejewski, Lind. Hardboiled and...

(The entire section is 473 words.)