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Book Club Thu Feb 14 2008

March Selection: Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky

For our March meeting we are reading Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky, the twelfth novel in her bestselling V.I. Warshawski mystery series.

For those who have never read any of the Warshawski novels, Fire Sale is a great introduction to the character. Readers learn a lot about her background in this story as she returns to the South Chicago neighborhood where she grew up in order to help an old friend who has been stricken with cancer. Warshawski agrees to coach the girls' basketball team at her former high school, Bertha Palmer High, but she finds the facilities are dilapidated and the girls are struggling with poverty, gangs and single motherhood. Undaunted by the challenge, the tough private investigator approaches the owner of By-Smart, the local megastore and largest employer in the neighborhood, in the hopes of securing some much-needed funding for the beleaguered team. Instead, Warshawski becomes involved in an elaborate mystery involving corporate sabotage, murder and the disappearance of the teenaged grandson of By-Smart's founder. Paretsky deftly combines social criticism and mystery in Fire Sale to reveal a portrait of a crumbling community still reeling from the loss of Chicago's steel industry and struggling to survive on minimum wages.

Warshawski is one of the best-known and strongest female detectives in the genre, and the books in the series have been translated into more than twenty languages. The character was introduced in Indemnity Only, first published in 1982. Indemnity Only was also the basis of the V.I. Warshawski film released in 1991 starring Kathleen Turner in the title role.

Sara Paretsky is an award-winning writer whose recent memoir, Writing in an Age of Silence, is currently a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle award. She is also the founder of Sisters in Crime, an organization dedicated to fostering support for women mystery writers. She lives in Chicago.

Additional Resources

Visit Sara Paretsky's homepage at

She also writes for the excellent Outfit Collective blog. The Outfit Collective is a group of local mystery and crime writers including Paretsky, Barbara D'Amato, Libby Hellman, Kevin Guilfoile, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Marcus Sakey and Sean Chercover.


Read Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky, and then join us on Monday, March 10 at 7:30pm at The Book Cellar to discuss the book. No RSVP required, and new members are always welcome. Hope to see you there.

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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