Sara Paretsky, Fire Sale

While writing a series of novels featuring the same detective allows an author to develop the main character (it’s a requirement of detective novels, after all, that many characters remain opaque or two-dimensional enough that we aren’t sure if they “dunnit” or not, so character development is typically quite restricted), it also risks repetition, especially if the writer is fixated on a very particular social and political vision. Paretsky’s determination to use her novels to expose the evils of corporate capitalism means that you can pretty much predict the villains (big business) and their motives (profit) in every novel, and her continuing characters aren’t that interesting to me anymore. The near-death escapes strain credulity, especially as V.I. ages (Sue Grafton’s decision to keep Kinsey Millhone stuck in the 80s has saved her from this problem). The plotting is competent and the writing is OK, but it seems to me that this is a series that just doesn’t have anything new or interesting to offer.

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