Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

SHELL GAME by Sara Paretsky: Book Review

Every novel by Sara Paretsky is wonderful, and her latest is no exception.  Shell Game brings Chicago-based private detective V. I. Warshawski into the all-too-timely issue of immigration, both legal and illegal, that is facing the United States now.

Shell Game opens with V. I. (Vic) making her way through the woods with a Cook County deputy sheriff and Felix Herschel, the nephew of her dearest friend Lotty.  Felix was contacted by the authorities to identify the brutalized body of a dead man who had Felix’s name and phone number on a note in his jean pocket.  His response to the officer in charge, Lieutenant McGivney, and V. I. when seeing the body strikes them both as strange.  “I don’t know him.  Where is he from?”

Felix, a Canadian citizen, is a graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology and is active in the university’s Engineers for a Free State.  He tells Vic that he and several other international students had been picked up by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities a few weeks earlier, and he had been held for several hours by ICE without benefit of legal representation before he was released.  Although ICE said it was checking on the immigration status of all foreign students, Felix said that only students from the Middle East or South America were actually detained.  As a favor to Lotty, Vic is willing to look into the case, but Felix will tell her nothing, and without his help there’s not much she can do.

The next morning V. I. is greeted at her apartment house by an unexpected visitor.  It’s her niece Harmony, the daughter of her former husband’s sister.  Harmony has come to Chicago to look for her sister Reno who had arrived in the city several weeks earlier to look for a job.  She got one through her Uncle Dick, Vic’s ex, but he was less than enthusiastic to see his niece and told her that this was the only favor he was doing for her and not to bother him again.

All Harmony knows about what happened to Reno is that she obtained a job at Rest EZ, a payday loan company, and that shortly after she started she received a promotion and the opportunity to fly to the Caribbean for the company’s Mardi Gras party.  When Reno returned she was upset and agitated but wouldn’t tell her sister more than that.  Becoming upset herself, Harmony flew from Oregon to Chicago to talk to Reno, but Reno is no longer working for Rest EZ nor is she at her apartment.  Their Uncle Dick professes to know nothing about this and to care less, so it’s up to “Auntie Vic” to find Reno.

As always, Vic is the person you want if you need a private investigator.  She is smart, determined, loyal, and tough.  And she’s always on the side of the  underdog.

Ms. Paretsky joins current authors who infuse their mysteries with current events; these include Julia Keller’s novels concerning drug abuse and Auzma Kahanet Khan’s on war refugees.  In addition to being exciting books with strong protagonists and stories, they bring readers issues straight from the headlines.  Shell Game is another example of Sara Paretsky’s skill in invoking a strong heroine in today’s world.

You can read more about her at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.