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Ghost Country

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  417 ratings  ·  55 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, 420 pages
Published May 11th 1999 by Delta (first published January 1st 1998)
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The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerBinding Arbitration by Elizabeth MarxThe Jungle by Upton SinclairDivergent by Veronica Roth
Books Set in Chicago
119th out of 288 books — 232 voters
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. RowlingA Clash of Kings by George R.R. MartinHoles by Louis SacharThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverAbout a Boy by Nick Hornby
Best Books of 1998
187th out of 194 books — 86 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 741)
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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
Marilyn Knox
Sep 01, 2011 Marilyn Knox rated it 2 of 5 stars
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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Jane T
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.
Linda Olson
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.

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 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Louis Arata
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
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
Don Jacobson
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.
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.
Rayna Forman
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
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...more
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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.
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.
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 1 of 5 stars
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!!!
We've waited a long time for a new Paretsky. But, I was really waiting for a new V.I.Warshawski. This new book is not only NOT a Warshawski, it's not a mystery either. I'm not even sure how to describe it. There's a fallen opera diva, and her homeless friends and a strange family that is so fractured that dysfunctional doesn't even start to do it justice. The book is an interesting book to read. I'm ready for another V.I. Warshawski.
An alcoholic ex-dive of the opera, a homeless women who thinks that the rust oozing out of the crack in a wall is the Virgin Mary's blood, two young women who have been raised by their strict grandfather (one a successful lawyer, the other pretty much at loss in the world) are just a few of the characters is this book. It didn't really speak to me. I think I listened to it once before. It works well for putting me to sleep.
Paretsky is known for her socially conscious mysteries, and this is probably her most emotional work - it's impossible to read this story and not feel it intensely. A big departure from her tough-talking V.I. Warshawski series, but still very much a Paretsky in its unstinting look at how the walls we build around ourselves for protection often end up becoming a prison.
I usually give one star to books I can't/ won't finish but I did keep reading to the end even though I really didn't enjoy this book. Yes it takes place in Chicago and yes I love the V.I. books but this was just not my cup of tea. I do feel sorry for the plight of the mentally ill but I never got the point of this book.
I have read & enjoyed all of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski's stories. V.I. is a smart, cynical, & very funny P.I. - a woman - in Chicago - committed to feminism & progressive politics, & the stories are interesting & fast-paced.

But this book, a stand-alone novel, I found flat & tendentious. I'm not finishing it.
Paretsky weaves the individual stories of a homeless woman, a college drop-out, a young doctor and a lawyer. Their lives revolve around the lives of the homeless in Chicago. At first the characters were interesting, then I found them annoying. While some of them eventually rose above it, I was past caring.
Not really an enjoyable read but it kept me going until the end. Some characters were a little too simple, not fully drawn. I was taken with the writing around the homeless characters and views of them. Several times In those passages I stopped and reread a sentence to think about again.
May 29, 2013 Jan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Several times i put this book down, thinking i would not finish it, but it was strangely compelling, And i read it to the end. It was weirdly interesting, And i didn't really like it. Definitely nothing like V.I. warshawski. I will hope for another one in that series....
I never even made it through half this book. The writing style just wasn't to my liking and I couldn't follow the story. Maybe I'll try again eventually, but after sitting on my bedside table for three months I decided it was time to move onto something more interesting.
Sara Paretsky writes a series of detective mysteries set in Chicago. This is NOT part of that series, it's not even a mystery. It's a mainstream novel. Very good, interesting characters and a good story. Set in Chicago and feels very authentig.
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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...
Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski, #1) Blood Shot (V.I. Warshawski, #5) Body Work (V.I. Warshawski, #14) Hard Time (V.I. Warshawski, #9) Fire Sale (V.I. Warshawski, #12)

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