Seriously. The first part of the book started off so well. Then it just descended into ridiculous levels of absurdity that I had a hard time overlooking.
Also, it just needs to be said, VI (Vic) just sucks. I don't particularly like her character. She is one of those people who will come up to you in a bar and tell you how edgy she is when in fact drinking whiskey and taking baths does not make you edgy. Also being a slob (housekeeping wise) also doesn't make you edgy. The main reason why I gave this three stars is that for one Paretsky doesn't have a love interest (there is something stupid with a cop) but for all intents and purposes, Vic is solo in this book.
When Vic is coaxed to come back to her old high school to suit up again (she played basketball) she is then nagged into taking a case from her former neighbor that she used to babysit. Vic is asked by Caroline (the neighbor) to please find out who Caroline's biological father is. Paretsky takes a long winding road to get there, but eventually readers figure out that Caroline's mother got pregnant as a teen and thrown out of her house. She somehow found a place to live and work, and gave birth to her daughter. Now that Caroline's mother is dying, she wants to reach out to find any other relatives she may have out there.
Vic is annoyed at the request and reluctantly starts a search. I won't get into it via this review. But honestly, how Vic gets to where she does that leads to some big conspiracy really didn't work for me. Vic is fired repeatedly by Caroline and asked to stop looking for her father and Vic just keeps going. It doesn't work for me since Vic complains incessantly about the case but is annoyed at Caroline and calls her spoiled and a brat from the beginning of the book until the end. She even shakes her at one point.
There are some familiar characters in this one. I enjoyed Lotty, loathed Max, and got really sick of Vic's downstairs neighbor Mr. Contreras. I felt like Max is insufferable just like I did in the last book. And I hated how Mr. Contreras was way too involved with Vic's comings and goings. At this point, I think he harbors a crush on her and it just was making me feel slightly claustrophobic dealing with him around all of the time.
The writing was okay and in some cases made me cringe. Vic calls something oriental. She also mentions Lottie looking like a Mandarin due to her dark eyes and small face at one point. I just thought there were way too many plot holes in this book and the reasoning why Vic kept investigating did not ring true. Paretsky does this thing where VI is the way she is in order to prove she's tough, but she just proved she doesn't have a lot of common sense in this case. And I for one am sick of her and her constant back and forth with the the character of Bobby Mallory. Vic is in her 30s at this point, she still acts like a teenager around him and is too glib by far.
The book ends, but it's not done in a satisfying way. You don't really know what becomes of the bad guys. And Vic has to fight off losing her home due to the machinations of one man. But that's about it.