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Ghost Country

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  507 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Sara Paretsky's genius made Chicago private eyeV.I. Warshawski a household name.Now the New York Times bestselling author explores an unseen corner of the city she loves.In Ghost Country she has written a parable for the millennium, a powerful, haunting novel of magic and miracles, of four troubled people who meet beneath Chicago's shadowy streets--and of the woman whose m ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 11th 1999 by Delta (first published June 25th 1988)
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Books Set in Chicago
90th out of 354 books — 269 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 965)
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Aug 23, 2012 JBradford rated it really liked it
I picked this up at the library under the impression (because I did not bother to really look) that it was another V. I. Warshawski novel … but it turns out to be outside of that series, one of the two non-Warshawski novels Paretsky has written, manifesting a different aspect of Paretsky’s talent. The flyleaf editor calls itr a parable for the millennium, and I guess that is apt, although it is one that is likely to be troublesome for most Christians. There are several different protagonists her ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Marilyn rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: not recommended
Recommended to Marilyn by: no one
I like Sara Paretsky. This is the tenth book I have read tht she has written. This book is not to my liking. I found the plot to be convoluted and mixed up. The characters were not true to life. Save your time and re-read a good V.I. Warshawski. They sparkle.
Aug 02, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
Recommended to Diane by: Colleen Johnston
Even though some of the characters are cardboard stereotypes (Dr. Strond, for one, Rafe Lowrie, for another) and the book turns mechanical toward the end, this newest Sara Paretsky novel kept me engaged. Paretsky draws on her ability to evoke a sense of place, something she did well in Bleeding Kansas with Lawrence, Kansas, but this time she's in more familiar territory in Chicago. She seems to have more of a feel for the Chicago underbelly and its denizens than she had for the upstanding Kansan ...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This was a chore to finish.
Not my cup of cocoa. :(
Aug 13, 2015 Shirley rated it liked it
The lives of four women intersect during one hot summer in Chicago on lower Wacker Drive: a homeless woman, a disenfranchised 20 year old, a fallen opera star and a magical, mystical specter of womanhood. Profound experiences bind them and change their lives and the lives of everyone who knows them as well as those of many across the city and around the world. The action of the novel is chaotic, intense and powerfully rendered. One cannot help but be caught up in it and at the tale's end, be lef ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Jennifer rated it did not like it
This book was selected for our February bookclub and my quick review is YUCK! I won’t deny that the book is well written or deep in metaphor or was a compelling read, but I hated the process of reading it. I almost didn’t finish it. Why is it called Ghost Country? Are they haunted by their absent mother/grandmother? Never could figure that out. Also, there’s no character for whom I felt a particular connection.

I hated the realization that the sexist, virulently anti-woman attitudes in the book
Oct 21, 2008 Kim rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica Hudson
I registered a book at!
Apr 02, 2016 Indrani rated it it was ok
On the surface, Ms. Paretsky has written an enjoyable tale. However, much like the "perfect" families she presents, when we look beneath the surface, it reveals itself to be rather tarnished. One might be tempted to defend it by suggesting that it is simply a product of its time... but this is a book that is 30 years old, not 300.

Structurally, the book is written quite nicely: Ms. Paretsky crafts sentences that are joyful to read, has good pacing, is obviously accomplished and has honed her craf
Jane T
Dec 29, 2010 Jane T rated it did not like it
I have probably read all of Sara's books and eagerly await each new one, but this has to be the worst one she has ever penned. Maybe I just didn't understand it, but I stayed with it to the bitter end and still "didn't get it." So far, this is the only book she has ever written that I cannot recommend.
Aug 27, 2015 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Paretsky’s two non-Warshawski novels, although this one is set in present-day Chicago like the VI books. There’s a world-famous opera singer, who is an alcoholic and slowly losing her grip on reality. Her career is already in the toilet. There’s a doctor who wants to practice psychiatry at a prestigious Chicago hospital, but the highly-respected consultant in charge of the department is more concerned with cutting costs so would sooner give patients drugs. There’s the granddaughter of the ...more
Linda Olson
Jun 11, 2010 Linda Olson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. A wild, fantastical descent into madness(or is it?) and a painful look at human nature. Once I started this book, there was no putting it down and I stayed up late to finish it. The vivid characters paid me back by chasing me through my dreams.

Nov 04, 2012 Zoe rated it it was amazing
as a big fan of Paretsky's VI Warshawski series, i this was a very different read..! I found it a little slow to get into but once i did it was a very emotional read with wonderfully written characters :D
Jun 15, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women
Sara Paretsky's ninth novel is one of only two which do not feature private investigator V I Warshawski. It is set in Chicago and focuses on homeless women and females raised by oppressive adults.

Mara and Harriet Stonds are half sisters (same mother, different fathers), who lost their mother soon after Mara's birth and have been raised in luxury by their grandfather. He and his housekeeper are horrid people who control these girls by a perverted sort of behavior modification. Harriet has beco
Louis Arata
Dec 15, 2013 Louis Arata rated it really liked it
Sara Paretsky knows Chicago. She paints a realistic city, even when she deals with an urban fantasy theme. The story brings together characters across the social strata, from the Gold Coast to the homeless "underworld." Parable-like, "Ghost Country" examines what happens when a homeless woman believes a crack in a wall is bleeding the Virgin's blood. The story takes off when Starr, a mysterious figure, appears on the scene. She is compellingly, vibrantly alive. Women are drawn to her authority, ...more
Sep 14, 2012 Alison rated it liked it
This was a difficult book to get through, but one that made me stop and think about the haves and have nots throughout this country. There are several characters whose story we must remember until they meet together and join forces for a common good. There's Madeleine, a street person who believes rust coming out of the wall of a fancy hotel is the blood of the Virgin Mary; Starr, also a street person, who at times is erotic and other times performs magic that can bring the dead back to life; Dr ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Frank rated it did not like it
[library audiobook, plot summary elsewhere]

I like Paretsky, although the books I've read [listened to] were all Washavsky novels. This was an attempt at literary fiction, I think. But I couldn't figure out where it was going, at least two of the women being victimized were self destructive and tedious, and the narrator's voice was grating. I think I was on the second disk when I decided to delete and listen to something else.
Jun 28, 2014 Don rated it really liked it
How can a book that features an over the hill opera singer and a right wing Christian church that houses a women's homeless shelter go wrong? There are more interesting characters, like the Jewish doctor who is chosen to run the weekly counseling center at the church. Paretsky is a good storyteller, and although it has a flaw or two, I recommend it.
Jul 13, 2014 Ruth rated it did not like it
Shelves: aborted
Ugh. I love Paretsky's mysteries, but this "regular" novel just did not work for me. It felt as if she was trying to be Sue Monk Kidd & not pulling it off. I didn't finish it.
Caz Perrin
Jan 13, 2016 Caz Perrin rated it really liked it
At first I didn't think this was going to be my type of book, but I am surprised to say that as the story went it drew me in. Very enjoyable read indeed.
May 10, 2015 Andrée rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not SP's best ever - bit different to the Warshawski novels - still raging against the system though
Rayna Forman
Aug 24, 2012 Rayna Forman rated it really liked it
This author is usually known for her mystery novels; V.I. Warshawki (sp?) is her usual detective heroine. This book is completley intertwines the lives of characters who wind up homeless along with a psychiatrist resident and a variety of others. At first, I found it confusing, because of all the characters, but that does become clearer as the book goes on. The book does have an agenda....a sympathy for the downtrodden...but it also has a lot of scenes that are quite funny. Defnit ...more
Mar 18, 2016 Judy rated it it was ok
Shelves: chicago
The story line is one that S. King could have handled well but Paretsky's canned vision of good and evil wasn't up to the task. So tedious that I actually turned past pages without reading. Peretsky tales are usually enjoyable so one clinker amidst dozens of winners is a good average.
Jul 27, 2011 Jayne rated it liked it
I really enjoy Paretsky's detective novels. This one is quite different so I am not sure if Miss P's fans will like this one. I found it uncomfortable reading. There are no real heroes in this story. Noone who is really likeable. These types of stories never appeal to me and yet I found Ghost Country hard to put down. Really, I think in terms of excellent authorship, this novel deserves 5 stars.
Perhaps its appeal lies in the ordinariness of the characters, and therefore a certain level of relata
May 14, 2013 Misha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2015 KateMoxie rated it it was amazing
Amazing. As timely today as when it was published 17 years ago.
Jul 06, 2012 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Shelves: july-2012
I liked this book. I have yet to read her VI Warshawski series, however, did read one other of her independent books that took place in Kansas. Loved it, so picked it up at the library when I saw it.

My one area of dislike was that sometimes it was hard to hear the story over the sound of Paretsky preaching.

I really really liked how she left it up to the reader to determine whether miracles did occur, or whether each person wrought the miracle itself in them, either negative or positive.
Sep 11, 2012 Dave rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-read
A fascinating singleton story outside Paretsky's detective/mystery series. Unexpected, fantastical, and provocative. The stories of 3 women and one man come together along with those of a couple of homeless / mentally ill women. A parable on finding context and meaning in one's life and on how dogmatic people can be when they don't want to see or understand the worldviews of others. I may read it again to see what else I can find for myself in the stories.
Aug 02, 2011 Jean rated it liked it
I admire Sara's writing but this is NOT one of my favorite books. 3/4 of the book was choppy and hard to read. I'm assuming Sara wanted to keep the reader uneasy and confused like some of the insane women in the book - to better feel their pain. After a "spiritual revelation" late in the book, Sara started writing beautifully and clearly. Unfortunately, I nearly gave up on the book entirely because this happened too late in the book for me.
May 09, 2013 Kay rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I found this book to be depressing with totally unlikable characters.

I picked this off the shelf in the library thinking it was in the V. I. Warshawski series. I am mad at myself for:
1. not looking closer to see it wasn't part of the series
2. starting the book anyway
3. not putting it down after the first chapter
4. ruining the next 3 days reading it!!!!

I read for enjoyment or knowledge. This book gave me neither!!!
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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
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