Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky

ParetskyIndemnityOnlyChupaNarrator: Susan Ericksen

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2011)

Length: 8 hours 43 mins

Series: Book 1 V. I. Warshawski

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Vick Warshawski is a Chicago cop’s daughter and an independent private detective. A man calling himself John Thayer hires her to find his son’s missing girlfriend, Anita Hill. Vick starts with the basics, such as checking the boyfriend Peter’s apartment for clues. What she finds is Peter’s body. The mystery deepens when she goes to Peter Thayer’s dad to ask him some questions and finds the real John Thayer. Vick is soon drawn into a case of insurance fraud, big unions, and the missing Anita Hill.

When I was a kid, the VI Warshawski movie came out and parts of that movie have stuck with me. So recently I got my hands on the first 5 Warshawski stories as audiobooks and Book 1 does not disappoint! This is way better than the movie I remember. First, I really like Vick. She’s independent and practical. She knows herself and what she’s willing to do or not do. For instance, she doesn’t hesitate to break into Peter’s apartment – and no guilty conscience there nor any second guessing herself. She also holds her own with stubborn cops and overbearing business men. The story occasionally brings up gender inequalities, but not so much so that I felt I was being asked to go to a Woman’s Pride parade.

The plot was pretty good as well. I was guessing for most of the book as to who was the culprit. While it was apparent pretty early on that there was some connection between the insurance company that John and Peter both worked for and the big union Anita’s dad worked for, I couldn’t guess the specifics until near the end.

The story is set before the time of cell phones and widespread internet. Vick actually has to track down physical information. While this dates the book a bit, I quite enjoyed it. I’m just old enough to recall the days before modern computing and the world wide web of information. So I have an appreciation for how hard it was for Vick to track down all the info that lead her to the bad guy.

There’s two side characters in this story that I really liked. There’s Vick’s best friend, the Viennese Lottie, who is a doctor. It never hurts to have a doctor as a personal friend especially when you get banged up as often as Vick. Then there’s Peter’s young sister Jill Thayer. Vick takes her under her wing a time or two in this book.

All around, this book exceeded my expectations. I half expected the story to be a cozy detective novel with a body or two. That was not the case. Vick is serious about her business and the men who want her off the case are serious too. Vick’s life is seriously in danger more than once in this book and if I didn’t know there were several more in the series, I would have been worried about her or those closest to her. As a final note, I loved that Vick took some hits and kept mouthing off. I also loved that those closest to her were concerned for her but didn’t coddle and coo over her as if she was some poor defenseless woman. Vick is awesome!

Narration: The narration is pretty good. Susan Ericksen makes a really good VI Warshawski. She also does the regional Chicago accent for most of the characters, which I also appreciated. Her male voices were believable. I also liked the light Austrian accent for Lottie. My one little criticism is that Vick and her cop connections often do a lot of yelling and so I had to sometimes turn down the volume because the narrator was yelling right along with them.

What I Liked: Vick – she’s just great; Lottie and her doting yet professional ways; Jill’s persistence in helping find out who killed her brother; the murder mystery; set before the internet age, Vick has to track down physical information.

What I Disliked: Sometimes the audio volume was a bit loud during the scenes that involved shouting.

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