Was very happy to find two early Paretsky novels at the library. I have read several of hers, but I did feel I had missed out on some background since the first ones have been unavailable. I think I'm going to have to do a more thorough check for novels by my favourites in the library catalogue, to see if more are lurking in the suburbian branches.
So I found a volume with Indemnity Only and Killing Orders, no. 1 and 3 in the Warshawski series. Funnily enough I think I have read Deadlock, which is no. 2. I read the synopsis on http://www.saraparetsky.com/ though, and I'm not sure. Not 100 %. I love Paretsky's novels dearly, but to be quite honest I don't always understand the plots, and that tends to make it hard for me to remember them. Not that they don't make sense, oh no, just that they often boil down to some sort of financial trickery and I tend to blank out at that. This time I made a very conscious effort to understand what was going on, but I still think I may have failed.
Indemnity Only introduces V.I. to us. She has been working as a P.I. for maybe 8 years, if my memory serves me correctly, dealing mostly with financial crimes. One night a man turns up at her office asking her to find his son, who has disappeared. V.I. goes looking, finds the son (dead), discovers that the man who hired her is not the father, and starts unravelling a complicated insurance fraud scam with union ties. Well, it might not be complicated, like I said, I'm financially stupid.
I like this one; it flows well, plot is solid and good, interesting characters. Having read the later V.I. novels it's interesting to see how she has developed and changed. She's very much a hard-ass here, she's a little cooler later on in life. Also, a lot of her habits are presented and explained -stuff that I've noticed in the later novels without really getting. Like the obsession with baths and exercising after getting beaten up.
Killing Orders has V.I. taking on a problem for a much-hated aunt, involving forged share certificates belonging to a Dominican priory. The aunt quickly changes her mind and sacks her, but once V.I. has started researching something she doesn't quit, even when she is attacked with acid. (Side note: why doesn't she quit? Surely she should have enough with all those other cases? Why take on a thankless task she won't get paid for? I never really get that. I think in every novel she gets the boot but keeps at it, and I'm not sure I know why.)
"I stopped for a breakfast falafel sandwich [...] The decimation of Lebanon was showing up in Chicago as a series of restaurants and little shops, just as the destruction of Vietnam had been visible here a decade earlier. If you never read the news but ate out a lot you should be able to tell who was getting beaten up around the world."
Have I ever mentioned, by the way, how greatly instructive detective stories can be? I know, thanks to Ms Paretsky, that there is a roundabout road in Chicago called "The Loop", for example. Stuff like this comes in handy, I'm sure. In Swedish it's called allmänbildning.