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Book Report: Hardball

Your Humble Blogger completely missed Hardball coming out. Hardball is the thirteenth V.I. Warshawski book (by Sara Paretsky, if you are unfamiliar with the series), and I have read all twelve of the other ones, including the middle ones which stank on proverbial. And the last two or perhaps three have been quite readable. So I was excited to see that there was another one, when I happened to come across it in a bookstore, and kept an eye out in the library, and there it was.

Except that somehow I had missed not one but two V.I. books over a couple of years. Not paying attention, I guess. So the one I got at the library (which was Hardball) was not the new one.

I mean, I liked Hardball and all, so it’s a Good Thing that I have another to look forward to, right? And it’s not like I haven’t had a thing to read for two years, or that it somehow inhibited my enjoyment to be a year or two behindhand. Still. Feel a little silly about it. Shouldn’t new books that I want to read show up in my rss feed somehow?

Anyway, Hardball certainly isn’t in the Top Three V.I. books, but it isn’t in the Bottom Three either. There was a serious dearth of interesting and sympathetic minor characters, up until near the end. V.I. kept getting into conversation after conversation where people yelled at her and refused to tell her anything. I figure the Reader Frustration there was deliberate, to show the buildup of Detective Frustration, but still, not the most enjoyable part of reading a mystery. On the other hand, lots of interesting stuff, some terrific set pieces, and a satisfying conclusion. Oh, and Bobby Mallory finally gets to have some positive qualities again. I have to admit I kept hoping for them to come to some sort of reconciliation—which I am aware is a sort of trap from series novelists. Not YHB’s own personal hopes, I mean, but the aggregate hopes of the readership, the various demands to know What Happens to the minor characters we have grown fond of over the years.

Now that I think about it, it has been very nearly twenty years since I started reading this series. Maybe fully twenty. I can’t remember if it was on the syllabus when I took an undergraduate course in Detective Fiction; I think maybe we read one of the Kinsey Millhone series, or Penny Wanawake or Blanche White. I don’t really remember. Still, I am absolutely sure I was reading the series by the summer of 1991. So that’s nineteen and a half years, anyway. And thirteen books. Fourteen, when I read the new one. Unless there are fifteen by then, now Ms. Paretsky has her second wind.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,