cover image Fallout


Sara Paretsky. Morrow, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-243584-2

In MWA Grand Master Paretsky’s intriguing, if flawed, 19th V.I. Warshawski novel (after 2015’s Brushback), the Chicago PI looks into the disappearance of August Veriden, a quiet young man with dreams of working behind the camera. She learns that August became enamored of Emerald Ferring, a black actress well known in her community but little known to white people. With some cajoling, Warshawski persuades Emerald’s close friends to let her follow August and Emerald’s path to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where Emerald was once a student and August was planning to film a documentary about her. On arrival in Lawrence, the detective is welcomed with less-than-open arms. Unfortunately, Paretsky loses the Emerald thread midway as Warshawski becomes entangled in small-town politics, particularly those involving the mentally ill daughter of an eminent scientist and the town’s history as a spot for anti-nuke protests in the 1980s. Sharply drawn characters partly compensate for a plot that’s fascinating when it stays on track but too often meanders. [em]Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Agency. (Apr.) [/em]