"Breakdown" by Sara Paretsky

Shape-shifting raven Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is the latest fictional sensation sweeping the lives of girls all over the world.  One night a group of tween girls in Chicago hold an initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetery as part of their Carmilla Club.  The group include daughters of some of Chicago's most powerful families.  But while there, they come upon a corpse, stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying.  

When V.I. Warshawski is called by her cousin to bring the girls home, she doesn't realize that she is about to stumble into an elaborate murder investigation, one that involves a fellow investigator, illegal immigrants, mental illness, right-wing politics, television pundits and more bodies.

Breakdown by Sara Paretsky is the fifteenth book in the V.I. Warshawksi series, and the first book of the series I have read.  I love the fact that this series has been going on since 1982 and I can see why.  V.I. is a tough, no nonsense investigator who is highly likeable for her commitment to justice.  She is an excellent series character and I can see why these books have developed such a following.

The plot of this book was timely.  It hits the current climate of right-wing politics in America hard and doesn't pull any punches.  It's like a look at the effects of Fox News, if Fox News had too much caffeine that morning.  It's a little over the top but at the same time an interesting commentary on what politics could become.  

I picked up this book after seeing ads and reading reviews of the series that promised page-turning action.  As someone who is new to the mystery genre but really enjoying what I have been reading, I looked forward to this one.  I have to admit it did disappoint a little.  I found it took a little long to get into all of the action and there was a lot of time spent building up background to the story.  While it did pick up in the middle, I found the end wrapped up a little too quick and a little too neat.

That being said I'm not overly disappointed with this book.  I like the way a bunch of different people with different circumstances were all tied to the same investigation, making it difficult for the reader to figure out the mystery.  I like that V.I. is not your typical investigator.  It seems that this is just not one of the best in the series.  I don't caution you to stay away from the series or this book, instead I suggest starting with an early novel if this is your introduction to V.I. Warshawski. 


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