Paperback review: Breakdown, By Sara Paretsky


A group of teenage girls holds an initiation ceremony to the Vampire Society in a Chicago cemetery at midnight.

By a strange coincidence private eye VI Warshawski, who is out looking for the girls, finds a man murdered in a nearby tomb at that exact time, with a spike through his heart. The murder has political repercussions – one of the girls is the daughter of Sophy Durango, a Democrat candidate for Senate, whose Republican opponents attempt to smear her with guilt by association, as well as continuing to vilify her for believing in evolution. Warshawski’s investigations take her to the mansion of the richest man in Chicago, a mental hospital, a television studio, a lake, and, of course, further murder scenes. It’s a stylish, intelligent thriller which wears its liberal heart on its sleeve, and a jolly good thing too.