Saturday, January 24, 2009

Total Recall (2001)

I used to be a regular reader of Sara Paretsky but it's been years since I picked up a V.I.Washawski novel. Total Recall was in a tumble of mysteries at the library Friends' booksale, so I grabbed it. Maybe my tastes have changed, but I didn't find the book up to my expectations. The plot, which involved insurance fraud dating back to the Holocaust and forward to the South Side of Chicago, was intriguing but started getting complicated when recovered memory was introduced. All ends were not tied up but I didn't really care. This was an angry book and I was actually uncomfortable with V.I.'s agressive behavior.

Years ago I heard Sara Paretsky speak in Michigan and I was awed. We were late getting to the session and only the front row was open. She spoke about things that were important to women that I hadn't heard anyone else say. Later I traveled to Chicago for a conference where she was scheduled to speak again. I arrived in the room early so I could choose to sit in the front row this time. Her first words were to ask if there was anyone in the room from Michigan. A number of people, including me, raised hands. She suggested we might find the talk boring because it would be basically the one she had given before. NO ONE LEFT.

Sara was also the founder of Sisters In Crime (1986), which fought to get women mystery authors in the United States reviewed more widely.

It's not a bad book. I would still recommend it to mystery lovers. Her writing is intelligent and her characters are interesting.

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