Fallout: A V.I. Warshawski Novel
Veteran detective V.I. Warshawski is back with one of the most challenging cases of her career.
As a favor to one of her goddaughter Bernadette’s friends and because there are no big current cases, V.I. sets out to find missing student filmmaker August Veriden. Like many young people trying to get through college, August has a job as a personal trainer at a local gym. When the gym is ransacked and medical supplies are nowhere to be found, he is a suspect and has disappeared. While trying to locate him, V.I. learns that he has been asked to work on a film about the life of an aging Hollywood icon, Emerald Ferring. The two were known to be traveling to Fort Riley and Lawrence, Kansas, where Emerald spent part of her formative years. Suddenly, the search for August has morphed into a manhunt for two missing persons.
"With keen understanding of story, motivation, human nature, and Paretsky’s fundamental character development and intelligence, both author and protagonist continue to intrigue readers as they explore the ugly sides of humanity and bring justice into balance."
When V.I. and Peppy, her golden retriever, leave Chicago and head for Kansas in search of the filmmaker and actress, little does she know that the two-person disappearance will resurrect loud echoes of ’80s anti-nuclear protests, mysterious missile silos, a convoluted cover-up and murder.
In the college town of Lawrence, V.I. picks up on August and Emerald’s trail. Her missing-persons flyer stirs up a wasp’s nest of alarm and danger. V.I. gets an unexpected and desperate response from Sonia Kiel, who leaves her a rambling, almost incoherent message, saying that she has seen August and Emerald near a grave. V.I finds Sonia and has doubts about her mental state: Is her confused ravings based on facts about the 1983 anti-nuclear protests, or are her memories blurred by anti-psychotic drugs? When V.I. talks to Sonia’s parents, she begins to suspect that there is more to the story than they are willing to share. V.I. learns that Sonia has a history of mental illness and has been homeless. Can she believe anything Sonia says?
More puzzles, innuendos, local gossip and hard-won facts lead V.I. deeper into a three-decades-old puzzle that revolves around the town, Sonia’s parents and the university, the military, and a protest about anti-missile silos in the peaceful-seeming Kansas farmland. The stories of August, Emerald and Sonia are tangled up in the ever-expanding vortex of danger, lies and cover-ups in the American heartland. How do the threads of their stories and that long-ago protest add up to murder?
Obviously, as the body count mounts, someone very dangerous is still trying to keep long-hidden secrets and hide past transgressions. V.I. becomes a moving target and finds herself in a killer’s crosshairs. It will require all of her experience, grit and intelligence to survive. FALLOUT takes the reader along for a long-distance journey where every turn in the road seems to lead to other unexpected avenues that are loaded with still more revelations, secrets, questions…and death.
For more than 30 years, Sara Paretsky and V.I. Warshawski have been at the top of their respective games. With keen understanding of story, motivation, human nature, and Paretsky’s fundamental character development and intelligence, both author and protagonist continue to intrigue readers as they explore the ugly sides of humanity and bring justice into balance.
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on April 19, 2017