Saturday, December 27, 2014

What I'm Reading: Total Recall

I've read many of Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski mysteries. For some reason, I stopped somewhere in the middle. (I've also missed a few of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone alphabet mysteries.)

I've been checking out books from the retirement home's library for my mother. She used to exclusively read true crime, now she's reading standard mysteries. I checked out Total Recall for her. Even though I hadn't read it, I suspected she wouldn't like the book, because I told her I liked the author. It's almost her tradition to find fault in food I make or things I like.

Well, she didn't care for it. But I decided to borrow and read it: I liked it.

VI is a great character: a lawyer turned PI, a feminist, an opera lover, a cook, a dog lover; a liberal if not a progressive. VI is smart and tough.

Total Recall weaves together the WWII past of VI's friend Lotty, Chicago politics, an insurance claim and the recalled memories of a Holocaust survivor.

I have two quibbles. The wealthiest characters in VI's mysteries are always the worst, most evil villains. The second quibble is with the mystery structure itself. I heard this in a writing seminar: the primary and secondary cases have to be related. If I ever write a mystery, I would have two unrelated mysteries. Oh maybe, there would be some kind to thematic relationship, but not the perps themselves. You can break the rules if you can make it work.

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