By Vanessa V. Friedman
October 20, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Windy City Blues

B+
type
  • Book

Windy City Blues by Sara Paretsky (Delacorte, $19.95) These days women and lawyers — and sometimes women lawyers — are the mystery-novel heroes of choice, and unquestionably V.I. Warshawski — woman, detective, lawyer, and one-time Kathleen Turner character — is one of the genre’s most successful pioneers. Witness this collection of stories set, as always, in Chicago, where the hard-nosed heroine is showcased putting her deductive and physical skills to the test (she’s kind of a cross between Hercule Poirot and Nora Charles) for a myriad of defendants, including a young tennis star, a facialist, a pianist, and herself. Witness also, however, her more personal side, as she is shown dining, chatting, and teasing friends and family. It is this sense of the detective as a fully realized person that is the key to the series’ success, the essential clue to what gives the books their power. It’s certainly not the crimes themselves, which are basic and almost entirely bloodless (Paretsky’s murderers favor strangling). In the end, Warshawski is a throwback to the earlier tradition of tough-talking, softhearted male detectives who solved crimes based on human nature — a fairly radical notion in our computer-crime-ridden world. B+

Windy City Blues

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