Book Review: Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky

Critical Mass (V.I. Warshawski, #16)Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Critical Mass is the 16th book in the V.I. Warshawski mystery / thriller / suspense series written by Sara Paretsky and published in 2013. I’m trying to catch up on this series so that I’m ready for the new release in a few months. I’m 4 books behind, possibly 5… for some reason, Goodreads shows the next as #21 but everywhere else, it’s #20. Oh well… I’ll figure it out. Let’s chat about Critical Mass…

VI Warshawski is a private detective in Chicago. The books originated in the 80s and have somehow gotten us into the new millennium. To be honest, I’ve kinda forgotten whether they just ignored time / age or are trying to be accurate. That said, she’s supposed to be ~50. VI stops at nothing to solve her case. She’s crude when necessary, loving when required, but most of the time, somewhere in the middle. I think we’d be friends, but I’d probably have to tell her off a few times. She’s pushy, and not always in a good way. Often, she gets herself into a jam, usually cut or shot, but she always survives… thanks to elderly neighbor Mr. Contreras and mother-figure Lotty.

This time, Lotty’s asked for VI’s help to track down the daughter of an old friend from Austria. Both women had suffered through the German invasion / torture, and this story tells us what happened after the war. It covers 5 different generations, 4 key families, and so many relationships, I lost track midway through the book. I’m usually good at keeping it all together, but this time, something was slightly off. That said, it was still a strong plot with interesting characters. I did find myself thinking “X and Y had some sort of relationship but who cares what it was, just mark ’em as friends and keep reading.” Perhaps I’ve been reading so many light mysteries that ~500 pages was a lot to keep track of.

Paretsky is brilliant. I cannot lie. Her tales are complex, engrossing, and ripe with emotion. I get angry every time, and I wish for VI to win every time. Characters are intense and feel incredibly tangible… even if they are sometimes over-the-top. Are there really people like this? I found the nuclear reactor and Homeland Security story lines fascinating. I wish we learned more about what happened to the rogue agents who might or might not have committed a crime. Perhaps that’ll come out in the next book. If you like deeply intricate tales, this one is for you. Not my fave in the bunch, but compelling nonetheless. I’ve already ordered the 17th one to start this weekend.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.



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