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Breakdown (V.I. Warshawski #15)

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  3,322 Ratings  ·  444 Reviews
Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago's Carmilla Club hold and initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetery, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying.

The girls include daughters of some of Chicago's most powerful families: the
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Putnam Adult (first published 2012)
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Luanne Ollivier
Jan 03, 2012 Luanne Ollivier rated it really liked it
Picking up the latest Sara Paretsky book is like sitting down with an old friend to hear a new story. Paretsky penned her first book featuring private investigator V.I. Warshawski in 1982. Nearly thirty years later, the newly released Breakdown is the fifteenth book in this long running series.

V.I. receives a frantic call from her cousin Petra late one night - a group of girls holding a initiation ceremony based on their favourite author's vampire books get more than they bargained for when they
Janet Whalen-Jones
Jan 12, 2012 Janet Whalen-Jones rated it it was amazing
Amazing that I've been reading about V.I. Warshawski for 30 years! One of the best of the cohort of Kinsey Milhone, Kate Shugak, Anna Pigeon and the other strong women detectives introduced at that time, V.I. has aged gracefully and kept modern. Although the timeline of her life and reality don't mesh exactly, it works. This case takes on via thinly disguised references, the Fox Network, rabid right-wing psycho politicians, the Twilight novels, corruption in the mental health system, how the wor ...more
Amy Lignor
Jan 14, 2012 Amy Lignor rated it it was amazing
It was in 1982 that the world was first introduced to the hot-headed, sarcastic, and extremely independent private investigator from Chicago commonly called Vic by her friends, and known to the rest of us as V. I. Warshawski. In this new release, V.I. is back, showing just as much humor and fire as she always does.

At a party she doesn’t like, dressed in a red dress with her sarcasm meter set on high, V.I. is thrilled when she receives a call from her best friend about a group of young pre-teen
Jan 18, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
This might have been the best yet from Sara Paretsky, in her series about V.I. Warshawski, a woman detective from Chicago. The latest book was a real page turner that took place in the present. V.I. was using her iPad and every other connected device, and yet she had to use her own brain to solve the mystery. She was drawn into the case because her cousin called her about some missing teens that she had in a book group her cousin was leading. V.I. found them in an old abandoned cemetery conducti ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Harvie rated it it was ok
SO disappointing. I love the resourceful, independent protagonist, V.I., and the descriptions of Chicago, the gritty realism of the series is what has kept me hooked on the series. BUT this was not one of Paretsky's best. The plot was convoluted and improbable and long before the end, I knew who the villain was and that justice would be served, but I really didn't care. Paretsky rants against a myriad of social injustices: racism, antisemitism, treatment of the mentally ill, illegal immigration, ...more
Larry Bassett
Nov 20, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Breakdown is the fifteenth book in the V.I. Warshawski series that began in 1982. I have been reading this series for a long time and am practically up to date. A lot of things have happened in V.I.’s life (and mine) in those thirty years. The sixteenth book is the most current in the ongoing series, published in 2013. Hardball (#13) I thought was among the best; Body Work (#14), among the worst. Maybe it is just me getting tired of this long running series, ready for Ms. Warshawski to marry and ...more
Susan Johnson
Dec 09, 2011 Susan Johnson rated it really liked it
I first started reading V.I. Warshawski in the 1980's. She and Kinsey Milhone, Sue Grafton's protangist, appeared about the same time and were really quite revolutionary. They were both single, divorced, hard hitting women trained in a police department. They each had no family but had an elderly, male neighbor that provided necessary shoulders and ears. They were both so different from the usual female detecctives of the time. They were strong, independent, smart and operated on their own moral ...more
Oct 09, 2012 Dorian rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
"V.I. Warshawski is Nancy Drew for grown-up 'girls,'" one of the reviewers commented. I like that description. I enjoy this character and it's nice to see that she's growing older like the rest of us. Keeping up with technology but also doing the necessary footwork, and there is a lot of footwork in this novel. Touches on many current topics: girls' obsession with a vampire fiction series, far right wing bloviators (love that term), the "entitled" 2%, illegal immigrants' fear of deportation, sta ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
V I Warshawski or Vic as her friends call her is like an old friend, I have been reading of her adventures since 1991 (before the movie), and have watched ( in my mind's eye) as she has aged. Her spunk and outspoken manner have not changed, however, and I also like her politics and Chicago location. In this novel, she is on a missing person case foe her cousin Petra, looking for some missing girls, when she finds them performing some kind of ritual in a cemetery. As she is talking to the girls, ...more
Eric Cohen
Jan 03, 2012 Eric Cohen rated it it was ok
This installment in the V.I Warshawski series is far from Paretsky's best effort. The plot is full of holes and many, many unlikely happenings. The characters are mostly caricatures and the political ranting is annoying and not relevant to the story. Diehard fans of the Warshawski series will find reasons to finish the book (as I did), but others are advised to skip Break Down and wait for the next installment. Readers who are new to the V.I. Warshawski series should start with one of Paretsky's ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Mary rated it did not like it
I give this book a poor rating too Political more like a history lesson about the mistreatment of Jews and African Americans. Yes that time in history was terrible but I do not read mystery Books to be lectured to. I will not be reading any more of her books. Finally finished what a painful reading experience.
Jennifer Gifford
Apr 30, 2012 Jennifer Gifford rated it did not like it
I was completely disappointed and regreted even purchasing the book. I've been a Paretsky fan from her first book, and I own every one in the V.I.Warshaski series. I love the character-a strong, opiniated, brassy and bold female who has no dependancy on a man, on social norms. I loved that she played by her own rules. Paretsky is a good writer, but this latest attempt at writing is a farse.

That being said, this is nothing more than a 431 page leftist political rant. V.I. has always been politica
Feb 03, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it
Sara Paretsky's 12th novel featuring private investigator V I Warshawski begins in a graveyard. While a group of tween girls hold a ritual centered around the shape-shifting heroine from a fantasy series they love, they come across a dead man stabbed through the heart. Instantly you are in the world of girls, cell phones, and secrets.

Enter V I, who must protect the girls, find the murderer, keep her young cousin from getting fired, and stay alive. She becomes embroiled with the rich, the politi
Feb 06, 2012 Tony rated it liked it
BREAKDOWN. (2012). Sara Paretsky. ***.
I heaved a sigh of release when I finally came to the end of this latest novel from Ms. Paretsky. It features her series PI, V(Victoria). I(Iphegenia). Warshawski, a series that was started back in the 1980s. I have been growing older with this PI, but she certainly seems to age more slowly than I. In this episode, it starts out with a call for help from V. I.’s cousin. Several girls under her charge are unaccounted for, and she is worried. When VI goes loo
Nov 18, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it
Another good entry in the V.I.Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky. While the story initially begins with rescuing young girls trying to initiate themselves into a cult flavored by a tween book, the story quickly moves on from there to involve many levels of Chicago and Illinois society, murders past and present, questions of blackmail, WWII behavior, right wing media and all they typically attack in this country (which can be fairly far flung), and the actions of private investigators. As always ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
V.I. Warshawski is Nancy Drew for grown-up "girls, " down to the chores she does, the wardrobe and grooming, the meals she consumes, and of course the chances she takes,the way she takes charge of her own life. But then there is the story. The twists, the turns, the caring about people, the familiar Chicago locations that bring this homesick girl back again and again. I assume she doesn't get her readers from the evangelical right, but I am so glad to hear her biases, her points of view, her lam ...more
Jan 05, 2012 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm, kind of disappointed. Have not read too much mystery - a couple by Louise Penny and Ruth Rendell. They were ok. However after 20 or so pages of "Breakdown" I feel like I'm into a Nancy Drew story or Blair Witch Project. Not drawn to read more.

Have now finihed the book, in spite of my earlier comment. Ms. Paretsky is clearly a gifted author - the book got pretty gripping somewhere in the middle and then kind of petered out as the ending was all wrapped up with an explanantory chapter. Every
Mal Warwick
Feb 29, 2012 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
Sara Paretsky's Latest Detective Story Hits Home

You can depend on three things when you pick up one of Sara Paretsky’s novels about private detective V. I. Warshawski: you will encounter a reformer’s perspective on Chicago’s power elite; you will find yourself relentlessly tugged along as Warshawski doggedly pursues the ugly truths that inevitably lurk underneath the surface of the mysteries she sets out to solve; and you will you will feel the heat or the cold, the grit and bustle of Chicago’s
Dec 05, 2011 Michael rated it liked it
I received this book as a first reads giveaway. I generally would not have picked this up off the shelf, as I am normally not a huge fan of murder mystery novels. That being said, I actually really enjoyed "Breakdown." I found myself engaged with V.I Warshawski's thoughts and actions, and I felt like I was helping to solve the multiple crimes and mysteries that seemed to snowball throughout. I easily forgot that Warshawski was, in fact 50 years old--she talked and acted like a rebellious detecti ...more
Feb 03, 2012 Pamela rated it it was ok
This is Paretsky’s 17th novel and features private investigator V. I. Warshawski. In this outing, Warshawski is sent to a local Chicago cemetery one rainy night to find several girls who are out after curfew. Warshawski not only finds them, but a dead body as well. The girls were all members of a book club dedicated to the Young Adult books featuring a vampire and his friends.

Warshawski, of course, wonders if there is any connection between the dead man and any of the girls. As it turns out, on
Elizabeth Fagin
Jan 28, 2012 Elizabeth Fagin rated it it was ok
If I could rate this book by section, the first 3/4's would be at least a four star rating. But I was very disappointed in the last fourth of the book.

What I love about Paretsky's character V.I. is that she is smart, tough, sexy and pragmatic. She also has aged realistically over the years - which is nice since she was my age in the early 80's when I first discovered her. I'm grateful that she is still my age (although that might be where the similarity ends - but what else would you expect from
Jul 17, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
Paretsky at the top of her form, which is very good indeed.

Things I liked about the book: the layered revelations of how the bad guys' paths and motivations were crossed. The usual daily interactions with her neighbor and two little girls who may or may not be undocumented immigrants, and V.I. Warshawski's human kindness--woven into some really scary plotting and tough-guy wisecracking.

Paretsky is, as always, relentless with detail. Occasionally, it makes the reader weary. Every single lead is
Feb 04, 2012 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Another excellent book in the V.I Warshawski series. V.I. really is one of the most interesting female protagonists going. Born of immigrant parents: a beautiful, opera-singing Italian mother and a Polish father who had the rep of being one of the best cops ever, V.I. highly proud of her heritage, grew up tough in the industrial and immigrant part of Chicago. Hot -headed with a heart of gold, V.I. (Victoria Iphigenia) is smart, tough, loyal and fiercely protective should anything threaten her fr ...more
Jan 26, 2012 Deb rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books-read
The latest V.I. Warshawski novel was a page turner. A group of teenagers involved in a vampire book club decided to initiate a new member in an out-of-the-way cemetery. While there, they discover the fresh corpse of man with a stake through his heart. Several of the girls are the daughters of powerful Chicago leaders and there is a hurried attempt to cover up their presence. Unfortunately a conservative talk show host gets wind of the story and uses it to denigrate the parents of the girls, one ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 04, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Always love reading Paretsky because growing up in Chicago I am able to picture all the places she talks about in her novels. She is great at giving detailed descriptions and her characters are always so well rounded and interesting. I love when she talks about Warshawsky and her mother, as well as her family background as she does in this novel. Seems like more of her political views made it into this one but it did not detract from the storyline. Her books are always very evenly paced and her ...more
Virginia Walter
Jan 10, 2012 Virginia Walter rated it liked it
V.I. perseveres in a particularly complicated case involving patients in a mental hospital, teenage girls who are fans of a Twilight-like series of books, a rabid right wing TV journalist, and much, much more. I'm a fan, but this is not Paretsky's best effort.
Jan 27, 2012 Dorothy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Paretsky fans, those who like edgy mysteries
The famously cranky and snarky Chicago private investigator Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski is back with another quest in search of justice for the powerless and downtrodden. At age fifty, V.I. (Vic) does not seem to have mellowed one whit. Her outrage at injustice burns as brightly as ever. In Breakdown, there is plenty of injustice for her to confront.

The story begins with her being called from a social gathering she's attending with her friend Murray. Her young cousin, Petra, is worried about a
Mar 09, 2017 Philippa rated it really liked it
In the 90s I read a lot of Sara Paretsky, but she went off my radar for a few years and I only just stumbled on this 2012 book the other day. She hasn't lost her touch – this is classic Paretsky: the gutsy heroine, VI Warshawski, a complex plot weaving many strands together, keeping up the suspense and tension right the way through, and a bit of a surprise ending.
Apr 08, 2013 Lainy rated it liked it
Time Taken To Read - 3 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago's Carmilla Club hold and initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetary, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying.

The girls include daughters of some of Chicago's most powerful families: the grandfather of one, Chaim Salanter, is amon
Lisa Lilly
Feb 08, 2012 Lisa Lilly rated it it was amazing
This is vintage Sara Paretsky. I loved revisiting V.I. Warshawski and her family and friends. The book starts with V.I. attending an event with her reporter friend, who has lured her there under somewhat false pretenses. This sets the stage for the mix of conflict and cooperation between V.I. and Murray for the rest of the book. V.I.'s cousin Petra calls, rescuing V.I. from the social occasion but plunging her into danger when she goes searching for missing tweens in a graveyard. V.I. finds not ...more
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Sara Paretsky is a modern American author of detective fiction. Paretsky was raised in Kansas, and graduated from the state university with a degree in political science. She did community service work on the south side of Chicago in 1966 and returned in 1968 to work there. She ultimately completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago, entitled The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New E ...more
More about Sara Paretsky...

Other Books in the Series

V.I. Warshawski (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski, #1)
  • Deadlock (V.I. Warshawski, #2)
  • Killing Orders (V.I. Warshawski, #3)
  • Bitter Medicine (V.I. Warshawski, #4)
  • Blood Shot (V.I. Warshawski, #5)
  • Burn Marks (V.I. Warshawski, #6)
  • Guardian Angel (V.I. Warshawski, #7)
  • Tunnel Vision (V.I. Warshawski, #8)
  • Hard Time (V.I. Warshawski, #9)
  • Total Recall (V.I. Warshawski, #10)

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