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Sara Paretsky

Updated on January 15, 2015

Who Is Sara Paretsky?

Sara Paretsky is an influential crime novelist best known for her heroine V.I. Warshawski, a Chicago private investigator. She has earned enormous respect from her peers and has been awarded the coveted Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement from the British Crime Writers Association. Sara Paretsky's books are published in almost thirty languages!

V.I. Warshawski and Sara Paretsky are as different as they are alike and this page will explore both of their worlds. Even if you typically don't enjoy a good mystery novel, you will enjoy Paretsky's books for a myriad of other reasons.

I am a huge fan.

Photos and quotes courtesy of the official Sara Paretsky website.

Sara with the Diamond Dagger in the vault at Cartier's in London.

Sara with the Diamond Dagger in the vault at Cartier's in London.
Sara with the Diamond Dagger in the vault at Cartier's in London.

Six reasons to love Sara Paretsky

Winner of the Diamond Dagger Award

  1. Sara Paretsky was instrumental in gaining respect for women mystery writers. It was evident that women crime novelists weren't getting the same reviews or publicity or accolades that were being awarded to male mystery writers. So she formed the Sisters in Crime world-wide support group. There are 3400 members ranging from "authors, readers, publishers,agents, booksellers and librarians bound by our affection for the mystery genre and our support of women who write mysteries."
  2. Sara Paretsky knows how to keep her readers poised for the next plot.
  3. Her stories grab you from the first page and keep you engaged until the end. And there's always that feeling that there's more to be told.
  4. Sara Paretsky isn't just a writer - she's a concerned citizen, too. She has been a tutor and a mentor. She's concerned about poverty, about discrimination, about the effects of war. She is involved in her community. She makes a difference.
  5. Sara Paretsky LOVES the Chicago Cubs. She and her heroine V.I. experience all the highs and lows of the baseball season depending upon how the "cubbies" are doing.
  6. Sara Paretsky loves chocolate! She says, "It takes a lot of chocolate to get me through a book." Gotta love that!

Keep in touch by subscribing to Sara's newsletter. There will be a short note from Sara and notices of her upcoming events and book signings.

"It takes a lot of chocolate to get me through a book!"

— Sara Paretsky

Who Is V.I. Warshawski?

Private Detective Personified

Excerpts from the website: About V.I.

"V.I. grew up under the shadow of the old steel mills on Chicago's South Side. Her father was a cop; her mother a refugee from Mussolini's Italy. Her mother had aspired to an operatic career but ended up giving music lessons to neighbors' children. She died when V.I. was not quite 16, a loss that still haunts the detective. The eight red Venetian wine glasses that her mother brought with her from her hometown in Orvieto are V.I.'s most prized possessions."

"...She drinks Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey and red wine...attended the University of Chicago on an athletic scholarship, and went to law school there as well..."

"Never underestimate a man's ability to underestimate a woman".

— V.I. Warshawski

Girls in the Game Club - Jumping Rope with Sara

Girls in the Game Club - Jumping Rope with Sara
Girls in the Game Club - Jumping Rope with Sara

A Very Special Girls' Club

Here's a cool picture of Sara Paretsky jumping rope with a group of Chicago school girls. It's posted with more pictures on Sara's official website.

The girls in this photo all belong to a program that's close to Sara Paretsky's heart. It's called Girls in the Game which is a club for inner-city Chicago girls to play sports which, in turn, teaches them self-respect, gives them self-confidence and teaches them team building.

There is no recess in most Chicago schools, these days, and most of the extracurricular sports programs available are geared to boys, only.

This is the only chance that most school girls in Chicago have to play sports.

Sara Paretsky's Childhood Home in Kansas

Sara Paretsky's Childhood Home in Kansas
Sara Paretsky's Childhood Home in Kansas

Sara Paretsky Close Up

What You Might Not Know...

Sara Paretsky is a passionate writer about passionate causes.

When I first started reading her V.I. Warshawski novels, I didn't know a thing about Paretsky's personal life. I just knew that she could turn out an enthralling piece of fiction.

From her first summer in Chicago as a college student working with kids and trying to change ideas about civil rights, she knew that she couldn't live anywhere else but Chicago.

In an interview with The Progressive, she says,"...It also made me see what the stakes were in the civil rights movement. And it made me see what real hatred was like and the forms that it took. But it also made me understand how powerless ordinary people feel in their lives."

There is a wonderful review of Sara Paretsky's life in the U.K. publication "Spectator" by author P.D. James. You can read it at this link:

Fearless Freedom Fighter

It speaks of her difficult childhood in rural Kansas where she and her family were the only Jews in a mostly Christian, white population.

Although her parents were highly educated, Sara, being the only girl, was denied the educational opportunities that were granted to her five brothers. It's not surprising, then, that she became a champion for women's rights, social justice and was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam war.

Paretsky began writing at a very early age. She has said that she can't remember a time when she couldn't read. But she wrote privately and not until she was past the age of 30 did she consider writing as a career.*

Lucky for us that she did!

*The Spectator, 5/24/2007

Guardian Angel - A Mini-Review

When an elderly woman is talked into moving her money into a worthless investment by a shady attorney, V.I. Warshawski moves into action to bring the crooks to justice. Much to her chagrin, V.I.'s discovers that her ex-husband may be involved in the scheme...

Lots of action from beginning to end!

Which of these V.I. Warshawski novels is your favorite? I know, I know...it's hard to choose!

See results

Bleeding Kansas

A Totally Different Genre

This is Sara Paretsky's latest work set in the small town in rural Kansas where she was raised. It's a novel loosely based on her early life there.

( And V. I. Warshawski is nowhere in sight.)

Bleeding Kansas

Discover more about Sara Paretsky

Follow these links for more information about this remarkable writer.

A brief poll about Sara Paretsky

Are you a huge fan? If you've never read her books, has this look at Sara Paretsky piqued your interest?

Which of the following best describes your thoughts about Sara Paretsky?

See results
Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel)
Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel)

Quote from the Product Description:

"...When V. I. Warshawski is asked to find a man who's been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile becomes lethal.

Old skeletons from the city's racially charged history, as well as haunting family secrets-her own and those of the elderly sisters who hired her rise up to brush her back from the plate with a vengeance. A young cousin whom she's never met arrives from Kansas City to work on a political campaign; a nun who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. dies without revealing crucial evidence; and on the city's South Side, people spit when she shows up.

Afraid to learn that her adored father might have been a bent cop, V. I. still takes the investigation all the way to its frightening end..."

 

This book is not a novel. Writing In An Age Of Silence, is a non-fiction work which chronicles the events leading to Sara Paretsky's journey as a writer and why she speaks so compellingly about civil liberties through her private investigator heroine, V.I. Warshawski.

You can find this as well as excerpts from her other novels at the Sara Paretsky official website.

Sara Paretsky Videos - Three short videos in Sara Paretsky's own words...

Mystery author Sarah Paretsky talks briefly about her novels Body Work and Hardball. Plus she reads a bit from Body Work. I think these short videos bring these novels to life. Whets the appetite for more!

Just click on whichever you'd like to see, first, and it will begin.

Copyright Notice

The photographs in this lens are used with permission from Sara Paretsky and her official website. However, this lens is my creation and must not be copied.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this look into Sara Paretsky's world.

My Sara Paretsky Guestbook

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    • CherylK profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Kohan 6 years ago from Minnesota

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thank you for visiting! You would love Chicago, I'll bet. I do. We actually lived for five years out in one of the far western suburbs and hopping on a train for a trip to the city was so much fun. It's an amazing place. Every time I read a V.I. novel, I feel as though I'm right there.

    • CherylK profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Kohan 6 years ago from Minnesota

      @ulla_hennig: That's wonderful, Ula! I'm certain that she has visited Germany...wouldn't it be fun if you could attend a book signing there? Thank you for stopping by.

    • CherylK profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Kohan 6 years ago from Minnesota

      @kimmanleyort: Thank you so much for the blessing! Sara Paretsky is an amazing woman and I admire her on so many levels. A bonus is that if you like a good crime novel, you'll very likely love her heroine, V.I. Warshawski.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Ah -- Sara.... and her 'alter ego' V.I. Never having been to Chicago, I've learned so much about the city from just reading Sara Paretsky's books. The City of Chicago has it's own unique 'attitude' not found anywhere else... and extolled robustly by V.I. Warshawski! I'm very partial to mystery books, crime novels, police procedurals and private eyes, and count Sara Paretsky.among my favorites.

    • profile image

      ulla_hennig 6 years ago

      I've got many of her books, most of them in the German translation. And I love her writing style!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      Excellent page on Sara Paretsky. I have not read her books but you've got me interested. I really liked how you showed all of the reasons you admire her, even beyond her books. *Blessed*

    • CherylK profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Kohan 6 years ago from Minnesota

      @thesuccess2: Yes, she's a great speaker. I recently attended her book tour for Body Work and enjoyed so much listening to her read from that novel. I've added three short videos to this page...two on Body Work and one on Hardball.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 6 years ago

      Seen her speak here in Abingdon,UK, great speaker as well as author.

    • CherylK profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Kohan 6 years ago from Minnesota

      @LisaAuch1: So glad you enjoyed this lens, Lisa. I just know you'll enjoy the adventures of V.I. Warshawski!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      I am a Fan now of Sara Paretsky, I am straight off to Amazon to see what I can get, thankyou for introducing me to her, and I especially love her house, it just looks full of mystery.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Sara is visiting us in the UK on Friday 19th February to talk about her new novel, Hardball at The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor Newbury RG20 8AE. We're looking forward to meeting her! www.watermill.org.uk

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 8 years ago

      Great lens on a fantastic author! Thanks for joining the All Things Chicago group! http://www.squidoo.com/allthingschicago

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I saw a movie with Kathleen Turner and like it not realizing it was a female author who wrote the book. I will check it out. I love crime novels. My Who lens is about James Cain.( "Mildred Pierce, The Postman Always Rings Twice")

    • CherylK profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      I would LOVE to be able to be in Cedar Rapids for that event! Are you lucky enough to be going? Thanks very much for the link! [in reply to Loren Keller]

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Preview story on Sara's reading in Cedar Rapids this weekend includes an interview with book writer Emily Grosvenor: http://corridorbuzz.com/articles/sara_paretsky_to_...

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 8 years ago

      Came back to read more. I also lensrolled you to my Girls Detecting Group. I hope you will consider joining.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens on one of my favorite authors!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 8 years ago

      Really good lens. You put in a lot of hard work to make it so good!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      LOVE that Diamond Dagger, as much as I love V.I.:)

      I want to thank you for that link to Sara's newsletter - it made my day. I've seen her amazon blog posts and vaguely looked at her site before, but didn't realise I could subscribe. Worth more than the 5* I just gave you

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Fabulous lens. I've never heard of this mystery author. I'll have to add it to my GoodReads list.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Great lens!

      5* and lenroll to The Weekend Reader

    • chemrat profile image

      chemrat 9 years ago

      Hi, great lens! I just lens rolled you on my dcrime fiction lens and group. Best wishes, Jim

    • profile image

      enslavedbyfaeries 9 years ago

      Great lens! I just realized that I really need to find the time to relax and read more often. Sara's books sound very interesting, -I will be looking her up at our next visit to the library!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 9 years ago

      Informative, I'm not familiar with her work but you've piqued my interest.