With the creation of private eye V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky did more than anyone to change the face of contemporary women’s fiction.
The initials disguise the fact that V.I. is very much a woman, a tough, sharp-tongued, sentimental PI working in Chicago. And it’s not like Peebles, at least, not much.
When Sara Paretsky appears at a special Borders Book Festival event at the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre, Peebles on Monday, March 21, her style of storytelling, her characters and their location could not stand in higher contrast to the well-set Borders town.
And that is perhaps a large part of the secret of Paretsky’s tremendous success for almost three decades. Through the remarkable V.I. Warshawski, she takes her readers into a world that very few know anything about.
Her latest novel, Body Work, is her hugely ambitious, quirky, wholly successful piece of fiction.
When the hard-working detective takes a day off and goes out one night, a stranger is shot and dies in her arms.
V.I. has been visiting Club Gouge, Chicago’s edgiest nightspot, where a woman known as The Body Artist uses her naked body as a canvas for the audience to paint on.
The show attracts all sorts of people, from an off-duty cop to Ukrainian mobsters and Iraq war veterans – and V.I.’s impetuous cousin, Petra.
A tormented young painter shows up, too, and the intricate designs she creates on The Body Artist drives one of the soldiers into an inexplicable rage. When the painter is shot, the police think it’s a clear-cut case: a shell-shocked war veteran goes off the rails. But the soldier’s family hires V.I. to clear his name and the detective uncovers a chain of ugly truths that stretches all the way from Chicago’s south side to Iraq.
Few crime writers this side of the Atlantic – or in Scandinavia – have Paretsky’s pedigree. She is the winner of a string of awards; the Cartier Diamond Dagger and a Lifetime Achievement Award from her British colleagues in the genre, and for this she will be similarly lauded by the Americans.
Quite simply, she is a Grand Mistress of crime fiction and in her latest novel, Paretsky and her heroine are at the peak of their form.
As part of an exclusive UK tour, Paretsky is coming to the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, to talk to Alistair Moffat about her work, Chicago, her life and what’s next. The author will be signing copies of her books after the discussion.
The event is on Monday, March 21, and runs from 7.30-8.30pm.Tickets are priced £13 and £11 (C).
To book call the box office on 01721 725 777, Monday to Saturday from 10am till 5pm, and for one hour before shows or visit www.eastgatearts.com
Enquiries can also be made to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Southern Reporter has two pairs of tickets to give away to readers who can answer the following question:
Which Hollywood actress played the title role in the 1991 movie, V.I. Warshawski?
Send your answer by postcard to Sara Paretsky Competition, The Southern Reporter, The Hermitage, High Street, Selkirk, TD7 4DA, or email the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entries, which should reach us no later than March 9 at noon, must include your name, address and postcode, and telephone numbers.
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