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Body Work: V.I. Warshawski 14 [Paperback]

Sara Paretsky
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 Jan 2012 V I Warshawski 14

Club Gouge: Chicago's edgiest night spot, where a woman calling herself the Body Artist invites the audience to use her naked body as a canvas.

The show attracts all kinds of people, from a menacing cop to Ukrainian mobsters and Iraq war veterans. A tormented young painter comes too, and the designs she creates on the Body Artist drive one of the soldiers into a violent rage.

When the painter is shot, the police assume the shell-shocked veteran went off the rails. But his family hires V.I. to clear his name - and the detective discovers a chain of ugly truths stretching from Iraq to Chicago's South Side.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (19 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340994126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340994122
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Paretsky is the author of nineteen books, including sixteen V.I. Warshawski novels. She was named 2011 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America and is the winner of many awards, including the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers' Association and the CWA Gold Dagger for BLACKLIST.

Visit Sara's website,, find her on Facebook,, and follow her on Twitter @Sara1982P.

Product Description


One of the most memorable novels in Paretsky's fine series. (Joan Smith, The Times)

Paretsky has been putting her private investigator through her paces since 1982, changing perceptions of women in crime fiction through the creation of a fiercely independent female detective. She keeps her brand of politicised noir fresh by responding to issues - social, cultural and political as well as gender - in contemporary life . . . Tackling the politics of the Iraq War and ideologies of corporate greed where the human body is devalued, Paretsky is firing on all cylinders (Metro)

This is the 14th case for the feminist gumshoe and it has all the hallmarks and energy of its predecessors. (Sunday Telegraph)

With the creation of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky did more than anyone to change the face of contemporary women's fiction. (Express on Sunday)

Very readable (The Times)

Paretsky's writing captures the essence of her beguiling heroine: Victoria Iphigenia is as tough as nails with a soft spot for justice that just won't quit. (Time Out)

Book Description

The fourteenth V.I. Warshawski novel from a crime author who writes with unbeatable pace and a passion for justice.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
It's a little difficult to describe Sara Paretsky's on-going V I Warshawski series to someone who's new to her work. Paretsky has been writing the Warshawski series for about 20 years or so, as well as at least one stand-alone book. Her writing, her characters, her settings, her crimes are unlike any other contemporary mystery writer I've read.

Her latest, "Body Work", is not an easy book to read. I think it's the edgiest of all her novels; the center around whom the story revolves is a "body artist", working out of a Chicago night-club. The "body artist", called here "the Body Artist" is a murky figure who allows customers to paint on her naked body. The images are sent world-wide on a web-cam. The plot of "Body Work" has the standard murders, bad guys, the internet, the war in Iraq, a Blackwater-like company which provides mercenary services in Iraq, sexuality issues, and many more plot points. Paretsky does a good job in laying out the plot and then tidily cleaning it all up again. But in the background of the plot are the issues of V I Warshawski herself.

Vic is a long-time private-eye in Chicago. She's gone through many cases, ably written up by Sara Paretsky, who brings her character along in personal development in each book. Many of the same characters show up in the books; Vic's family members, her neighbor-and-protector, Mr Contreras, various friends and lovers, and, of course, her two dogs, Mitch and Peppy. Paretsky has brought her character from a hard-scrabble childhood as the only child of a Polish Catholic policeman-father and an Italian Jewish opera singer-mother. Her first books were set in that odd Chicago area of the southeast side of Chicago, with the various ethnic groups jockeying for space.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"Flee sexual immorality.
Every sin that a man does is outside the body,
but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." -- 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV)

Body Work is a change of pace from the usual V.I. Warshawski mystery. The focus here is on the evil influences in the plot rather the typical Joan of Arc story of Vic taking on one and all in a lopsided struggle. The intensity is high, as it always is with Sara Paretsky's writing, but there's more of an element of James Lee Burke come to Chicago that adds a lot of depth to the story. Vic's cousin Petra provides for comic relief in ways that offsets the darkness that's inherent in this story.

The book opens powerfully with this sentence: "Nadia Guaman died in my arms." You'll be hooked into wanting to know the rest of the story within the first three paragraphs. I think it would be very easy to spoil this story, so I'm going to avoid saying anything else about the characters or the plot. But I think you'll be surprised by where the story goes. I was, and I enjoyed the trip.

The only thing I didn't like about the story involved having so many evil doers that it took a lot of pages to work them all in and to develop their parts of the plot. As a result, the story was about 100 pages longer than I felt it was worth. One or two of the story lines could have been simplified and the pacing of the story would have been a lot more compelling. But if you like stories strong in atmosphere, I predict you'll like this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great yarn about VI Warshawski 12 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Body Work begins with the murder of a young artist behind Club Gouge, and edgy night spot in Chicago. It turns out that she was there to see the headline act, a woman known only as 'The Artist', who allows the audience to paint on her naked body while she sits on stage. The murdered girl had begun to paint on The Artist and her work had enraged an Iraq veteran in the audience for some unknown reason. When the young woman dies the finger is pointed at the veteran who has - seemingly - tried to kill himself out of guilt. VI Warshawski is engaged by the veteran's family to find out what happened and - hopefully clear his name.

This book is another great addition to the VI Warshawski collection, the immediate death of the victim within the first few pages definitely grabs you! VI is her usual hound-dog self in tracking down the truth, but this time she has her cousin (who she picked up in Hardball) along for the ride and helping her in her investigations. The plot is intricately woven and seemingly insignificant things are all wrapped up in the final conclusion, which is both clever and contemporary.

I've read that Sara Paretsky is already working on the next novel, which I await with interest!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By davidT
Format:Kindle Edition
Some writers of detective stories start off well, then gradually fall away and start to coast. Sara Paretsky is not one of these; in fact since V.I.Warshawski made her first appearance, her books have steadily become deeper, exploring themes such as high-level political corruption and how it affects the common people, corporate bullying of staff and violence against women. A common theme seems to be that there is no such thing as a victimless crime.
Here, we have organised crime (a brutal loan shark and his heavies); collateral damage from the war in Iraq (traumatised veterans and a security contractor killed in suspicious circumstances) and a company prospering on supplying possibly faulty equipment to the army. Add to that a Hispanic family right at the bottom of the pile, with two dead daughters out of three and a brain-damaged son, and you can see this isn't going to be a laugh a minute.
As always though, Ms Paretsky balances the necessary grimness of her narrative with lighter moments - not exactly comedy, but the borderline airhead cousin Petra, who first appeared in the last book and the perennially loyal neighbour Mr Contreras vainly trying to save Vic from her wilder impulses make for some relief.
There are also two ex-marines, friends of the disturbed vet who is being held on a murder charge, who turn up and act as V.I's guardian angels for the second half of the book. If they seem a little like a convenient device, they are never remotely like the increasingly ludicrous Ranger of Janet Evanovich's tired Stephanie Plum books.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Believable Detective
A woman is killed outside a night club - she bleeds to death in the arms of V I Warshawski, private eye. Prime suspect is Chad Vishnewski, disturbed Iraq war vet, no relation. Read more
Published 3 months ago by jacw2000
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
Body Work is a thought provoking and interesting book. While in "whodunnit" style it stands high in quality and intelligence. V I is, as ever, an appealing heroine.
Published 17 months ago by P G Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Body Work Pleasure
An awesome story told, twisting and turning, smoothly and expertly written - a pleasure to read and revisit old friends!
Published 18 months ago by Sally Mist
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, authentic
This was the first Sara Paretsky book I've read and I enjoyed it very much. I thought the whole idea of the body artist was really original and the structure of the plot around... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mrs Louise E Miles, UK
4.0 out of 5 stars VI on form again
I have read all of Sara Paretsky's books since Indemnity Only back in the 80s and I have to say I enjoy them as much now as I did then. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jo Brookes
5.0 out of 5 stars I've missed them
There was a lull in the VI books and I got out of the habit of looking for new one. It was so good to get back into it - like meeting up with old friends. Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by casualcarrie
2.0 out of 5 stars Body Work by Sara Paretsky
I have read all the generally excellent VI Warshawski novels and this is the worst by far. It is a rather tedious plot and the denoument is just plain ridiculous. Read more
Published on 7 Nov 2011 by Andrew R. Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars Dynamic but reassuringly familiar
Body Work is a strong tale with complex, connected elements, all of which come together satisfyingly in the end - as is usual in Sara Paretsky's excellent V I Warshawski books. Read more
Published on 27 May 2011 by JoTownhead
5.0 out of 5 stars V I Warshawki rules!
Another whopping success from Sara Parentsky! The combination between the world of a private eye and power politics using the recurring characters of her other novels reveal yet... Read more
Published on 20 April 2011 by rhosymynydd
3.0 out of 5 stars Feeling disillusioned
I was very disappointed with this and her previous novel Hardball. The feel of the stories seems to have changed, and when did Vic suddenly get so old? Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2010 by A. Mcleod
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