Thursday, September 21, 2006

Slowly catching up

I started writing this blog post on the 21/9, but because my home is the way it is and I am the way I am I was interrupted and didn't finish. Sad, isn't it? But here we go again, I have a lot of books to write about, and I'll just have to take them one step at a time.

The lovely and generous E gave me a most marvellous care package, containing not only lovely chocolates, sweets, a cd, bubble bath and more but also a load of books she, well, I guess she needed to clear out. ;-) Anyway, I was thrilled to bits. I got the latest Sara Paretsky, plus the earlier one (Blacklist) which I've read but apparently not blogged about. Also a few non-fiction intellectual ones (fun! the sort of stuff I never choose myself otherwise because I'm lazy) and more. I will be blogging about them all. And it is better to write about one at a time than about none, so I'll start with:

Sara Paretsky: Fire Sale

The latest Sara Paretsky is a crack-down on Walmart. In this one V.I. returns to the South Side to coach basketball when her own old coach gets cancer. The neighbourhood used to be poor, but people had work back in V.I.'s youth, when the mills were open. Now, the biggest employer is the discount supermarket By-Smart, owned by fundamentalist Christian family Bysen. By-Smart systematically keeps employees on part-time contracts (thus being able to refuse them health insurance and other benefits), and is also pressuring local contractors to work more for less. Being practically the only employer left the company has enormous power. V.I. soon gets sucked into (pro bono) drama.

This is one of the best Paretsky's I've read. I like how V.I. has mellowed since your man what's-his-name (can't remember at the moment and can't be bothered to go and find the book) came into her life. She seems more her age now, and I like that. A more believable character, somehow. The intrigue worked well, even if the solution and conclusion was a bit far-fetched - then again, the Knutby incident right under our noses has taught us that nothing really is... The social criticism gives food for thought, as usual in a Paretsky novel, and works very well with the story. Recommended.

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