Guardian Newspaper 1000 Novels discussion

Blood Shot (V.I. Warshawski, #5)
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Monthly Book Reads > Blood Shot (aka Toxic Shock] - October 2017

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message 1: by Kaycie (new)

Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Better late than never, here is the thread for this month's Crime read, Blood Shot!

I have no idea if I'll have time for reading this month, but who all is reading? I'll join if I get the chance!


Leslie | 825 comments I have already read this but I might reread if I have time.


Darren (dazburns) | 666 comments Mod
I am most of the way through this already!
will wait til I finish then give my thoughts...


Darren (dazburns) | 666 comments Mod
I finished this a few days ago
Thought it was nicely balanced but fairly standard private-eye fare - bit like an episode of The Rockford Files but with female Rockford!
Entertaining enough as an easy read, but I have no compulsion to read any more of the series


Leslie | 825 comments Darren wrote: "I finished this a few days ago
Thought it was nicely balanced but fairly standard private-eye fare - bit like an episode of The Rockford Files but with female Rockford!
Entertaining enough as an ea..."


I think that it is hard today to remember how ground-breaking Paretsky and Patricia Cornwall & Sue Grafton were back in the 1980s (unless, like me, you were around then). They were the first to portray female investigators as equivalent to men: not a Miss Marple or Miss Silver but, as you said Darren, a female Rockford capable of dealing with violence if necessary.


message 6: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I just started this and am enjoying her writing style so far. Also, I am impressed on her description of Victoria (VI). There are so many mystery/thriller books out there where they have to make non-feminine female cop/detective characters. At least, this one is a well-rounded character. (Of course, I have just started this book.)

It also has a very good sense of place.


Leslie | 825 comments I have started my reread of this & am pleasantly surprised to find I don't remember much about it - one of the advantages of a poor memory is the ability to reread mysteries :-)


Leslie | 825 comments I finished this today -- a few aspects are slightly dated but overall I enjoyed this very much. In particular, I could sympathize with VI's feelings about Caroline & Louisa. I had forgotten who Caroline's father was & can easily imagine reacting the same way VI did.


Phil (lanark) | 436 comments Just finished (I’ve dumped all the group’s read crime novels that are new to me into my “to be read” folder, to try and catch up).

My review:

*****

I think I wanted to enjoy this more. This is the first V.I. Warshawski book I’ve read and I suppose I was expecting more than an everyday hard boiled P.I. with a few quirks (she plays piano and calls her parents by their first names) written in that Chandlerish style but who happens to be a woman. The “being a woman” part didn’t make this distinctive enough from dozens of other detectives and hundreds of other detective novels. The writing felt too episodic, like an RPG or a “build your own adventure” - go here and the character will tell you this etc. Plus, considering the amount of action, the whole book felt very slow.

So, for me, it was competent but not in any way exceptional.

*****


Leslie | 825 comments Phil wrote: "... The “being a woman” part didn’t make this distinctive enough from dozens of other detectives and hundreds of other detective novels. ..."

As I have mentioned before in this thread, I think that it is hard now to realize how groundbreaking it was for Sara Paretsky & Sue Grafton to write gritty P.I. stories back in the 1980s where the detective was a woman, especially a woman working alone. Almost all the previous mystery/crime novels before this with female detectives were either patterned after Miss Marple or worked with a male partner.

So I can understand that, as a novel, today it doesn't come across as being that special. I suspect it made the list because of readers like myself who were around when this idea of a hard-boiled mystery featuring a woman was new and different. Also, I suspect that this 5th book in the series is more appreciated by those who have read the first 4 than it would be as an introduction to the series.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I think that's one of the problems with picking a series book for an inclusion in a list like this--sometimes an author doesn't really hit their stride until they have a few books under their belt, or else it might be that the overall series is more satisfying than any individual title.

I remember reading A is for Alibi a few years ago and being pretty disappointed--not so much in the female P.I. but in the writing overall. I suspect that was one where the series probably got stronger over time.

It sure seems to me that I read a V. I. Warshawski book at one time or another, but I have no idea what the title might have been, or even what the story was about.


message 12: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil (lanark) | 436 comments I agree with both of you that, as a representative of book series, picking out one novel is often unsatisfactory. Like you, Bryan, I read A is for Alibi and actually thought it was pretty awful (not even average), but then I don’t read a lot of general crime fiction - so with these books I’m never really comparing them with the shelves and shelves and shelves of genre cop and crime fiction hundreds of which are published every year, I’m comparing them with “literature” (whatever that is). So I’m almost certainly being unfair and wanting / expecting something that’s not part of the genre.

However, I reckon that if they have a place on this list then genre fiction needs to be able to transcend its genre. I notice that there’s a second Paretsky novel on the list, so maybe that will sit better, now I know more what to expect.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I think a good mystery or detective story can be enjoyable, but few popular series have made me want to keep going after the first book. It's probably me...I don't know--I always have to start at the beginning, and, like I said, that may not be the author's strongest book. Those who started with the author and kept up have sort of become vested in the characters.

I tried Kinsey Milhone, Kurt Wallender, Bernie Gunther, and Martin Beck for various reasons or recommendations, but none of them interested me enough to keep going. I thought Janet Evanovich was pretty strong out of the gate though. But my patience for any kind of a series (book or TV) usual wears out pretty quickly. Four or five books is about all I can handle--even something I think is really exceptional doesn't go much beyond half a dozen.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 565 comments I just thought of two more that I thought started out really strong--Carl Hiaason and Patricia Cornwall. In fact, for a serious mystery, the Kay Scarpetta series was really good for at least a couple books. Unfortunately, I picked up one of her later entries in the series to read to my wife when she broke her leg, and I thought it was terrible.


Leslie | 825 comments Phil wrote: "... However, I reckon that if they have a place on this list then genre fiction needs to be able to transcend its genre. ..."

I agree for the most part. But as all of us in this group are aware, the list has its own peculiarities!


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