Not much to say here besides the fact that I really enjoyed this one a lot. We get to see VI go into the prison system in order to find out how an escapee from a woman's prison was found on a road in Chicago. We get to see VI and other characters go through some changes in this one due to a new age of American politics as well.
VI in this one is accused of a hit and run after she barely misses hitting a woman's body in the road. Though VI has her run ins with the law at times, she still doesn't know why the police are looking hard at her for this one. When she turns up details on the dead woman which ties her into a high profile private security firm, it becomes pretty clear that VI may not be able to get herself out of trouble in this one.
VI is a bit slower in this one. She is definitely feeling her age. She also feels a bit flat since her long time rival and friend Murray is now being pushed to do more public friendly stories and the era of print media has seemingly died in Chicago. What I think made me like this one a lot more is that honestly VI is left friendless in this one and has to survey by her own wits. Her assistant pretty much quits and blames VI for how she behaves which is why she is always targeted. And VI has a power crazed Chicago cop on her heels who is not going to stop until he has her arrested.
The book shifts gears though with it's smart insight into the prison system and how easy it is to abuse women behind bars. Some of the descriptions were stomach inducing.
I do have to say though I loved this book, I found most of the circumstances involved to be highly implausible. I have finished a bunch of the books in this series recently, and I do have to say that after "Fire Sale" I started to just feel a shift in quality. I constantly compare VI to my other favorite female private eye, Kinsey Malone. And I think what gets me the most is that VI is antagonistic towards everyone and even the police. With what she gets up to I am surprised she hasn't been arrested for how many times she gets involved in a police matter. And I just don't like how she treats others around her. That said, I would be a happy person if the character of Mr. Contreras would be written off from this series along with the two dogs that VI ends up bringing everywhere in the latest books.
A Stone Barrington novel without much Stone Barrington...still a good, quick read, but not up to the level of others. Woods is really cranking out the Barrington books lately, adding more and more central characters, which distracts from the main characters that made this series so much fun to read. This one is very by the numbers as Stone crosses paths with an old contact, Teddy Fay, and somehow ends up convincing him to protect his son from the Russian mob. Stone really doesn't have much to do with the main plot as the focus seems to be on Teddy, aka Billy, and his dealings with the Russians and others new characters in Vegas and L.A. Stone does have a small role at the end in helping set up the Russians for a hit by Teddy, but I'm hoping the next one brings Stone back as the central protagonist. One gripe: Teddy's dealings with Vlad, a Russian hitman, are poorly handled by Woods...just my opinion.
My family lived this story so I may be a little bit prejudiced toward it. This is a history of people who lived through the Dust Bowl and my family, grandparents and mom, did just that. My mother owns the book but hasn't been able to read it yet because it is too painful. If you aren't familiar with this episode of American history, this was the 30's when the land literally blew away. The farming that had been done had ripped away the centuries old grasses and left the topsoil exposed to the never-ending wind. Then the rains stopped for about 6 years. It was a brutal time and the majority of people who lived in the Dust Bowl moved away. My grandparents stayed and kept their farm through it all. My mom was born in 1934 in a dugout so this history is my family's history.
Timothy Egan did his research well. He has first-hand accounts from many who are my mom's age and older who distinctly remember the Black Dusters coming through town and blocking out the sun. He ties the stories together well. His creation of the atmosphere of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles is masterful. I've spent a lot of time there and he describes it beautifully. I think he is very fair in explaining why the Dust Bowl happened and who was to blame. He doesn't vilify the farmers as some have though they do take blame. They didn't know any better and they were told that they were doing the right thing. He shows the progression of the problem clearly. He does vilify the ones who deserve it, the land speculators. He does an outstanding job of showing the determination and fortitude of the settlers.
Settling the frontier sounds like something that happened 150 years ago but this frontier was being settled in my mom's lifetime and this book is an excellent history of how that part of the Great Plains developed. Some people won't like his story-telling style. It's not linear. He goes back and forth between families and usually has to go back a few years each time he changes families but it's not a hard style to read. For a non-fiction book, this was as compelling as any fictional story I've read lately. I couldn't put it down.