REPORT ON BLACKLIST SARA PARETSKY
In another book I reported on, STIEG LARSSON: OUR DAYS IN STOCKHOLM by Kurdo Baksi, I learned that among crime novelists that influenced Stieg Larsson was Sara Paretsky. Both use short chapters. Both may have been influced by other crime writers.
In one passage in THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST (2009) when Michael Blomkvist needs a different car because there is a tracking device on his car, he has recognized her car key among things in a bag she dropped - during their brief encounter while someone was chasing her - and he can go to Elizabeth Salander's neighborhood to drive her car from Stockholm to Goteborg. In BLACKLIST(2003) V.I. Warshawski has retained the car key when, hired by the family of the victim, she has gotten a locksmith to open his car. She can drive a youth she is hiding from the Patriot Act to a new location.
At times I have found the Sara Paretsky narration, nice Chicago description and a reaffirmation of the reader's attention with repeated, reassuring characterization, to include points memorable to me:
I had earliet come upon her novel, TUNNEL VISION, such a point is "I can't say I would have known him anywhere - it had been twenty years since I'd seen or thought of him. But knowing to expect him I recognized him at once."(page 79) This word choice in this observation about cognition states something we have known without words.
In BLACKLIST, the narrator remembers her mother saying, "We don't give into our worries...we do some job, like this, we do it well, we make the worries leave us alone..."(page 170)
Of BLACKLIST, the book's blurb: "As she retraces the dead reporter's track, V.I. is sucked into the middle of a gothic tale of sex, money and power." There are fewer than usual scenes, in this gothic, in which V.I. Warshawski is kidnapped or attacked. My observation about this is that as her female characters' histories reflect romance, a less violent story is appropriate.
In the post- 911 times of the Patriot Act, the characters' background with McCarthy era blacklists in the mid-nineteen-fifties includes African-Americans. The frequent chapter titles include familiar references to culture, including to Brer Rabbit and Joel Chandler Harris.
The dead reporter's name was Marc Whitby - I wonder if the name is a woven-in reference to the idea that the blacklist was a list of people with a black mark made against their name. One reference to Stockholm Syndrome at an important point in the book reminds me how proximity to others can blur borderlines. At the same time it reminds me that proximity and blurred borders are dangerous combined with weapons.