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Total Recall [Paperback]

Sara Paretsky
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 May 2002
"Total Recall" follows V.I. Warshawski on a road that winds back more than 50 years into an intricate maze of wartime lies, heartbreaking secrets and harrowing retribution.

Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141007133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141007137
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 11 x 17.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 411,647 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

Amazon Review

Age and experience has not withered VI Warshawski. In Sara Paretsky's latest tale, Total Recall, the uncompromising and wildly unconventional private investigator chases leads and suspects around Chicago "like a pinball, careening around the city", despite the fact that she is now positively the wrong side of 40. Paretsky's heroine is called in to investigate a seemingly simple case of insurance fraud (one of her specialities), when things get rather more complicated. At a conference on Christian-Jewish relations, the media is attracted by two very different stories: while protesters outside call for the recovery of Holocaust assets from insurance companies in denial, inside, a middle-aged Jewish man--helped by a recovered-memory therapist--recalls a childhood devastated by Nazis.

Warshawski soon becomes involved in both stories. As her journalist boyfriend prepares for a trip to Afghanistan to investigate the dismal human rights record of the Taliban (a timely, if not prescient, angle from Paretsky), a friend of his staying from New York decides to embark on a book on recovered memory, inspired by a TV special on the therapist and her star client. Hired by the author to help check out the duo's authenticity, VI finds herself on a collision course between the past and the present and between her professional life and her close friendship with a group of Jewish friends. One of these, the spiky surgeon Lotty Herschel (a regular Warshawski character), is deeply disturbed to find her own past may be linked in some way to that of the troubled client.

With her sharp wit, cynicism and daredevil approach to her job, Warshawski is as annoyingly loveable as ever. There are enough twists and turns to this, her latest outing, to offer a challenging read to die-hard fans and newcomers alike. Irritatingly, however, Paretsky leaves some major strands of her story untied, leaving you wondering and, as ever, waiting anxiously for the next VI Warshawski adventure. --Carey Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


In the latest acclaimed tale starring private eye V I Warshawski the story begins with a Holocaust conference in Chicago. An astonishing childhood is related there that has devastating consequences for Lotty Herschel, V I's cherished friend and mentor.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The same headstrong, wilful -- beautiful V.I. 26 Oct 2001
By A Customer
There isn't a private investigator in the whole of contemporary fiction as strong or as angry as V.I.Warshawski. From her brilliant entry into crimewriting with "Indemnity Only", Sara Paretsky's interest in corrupt dealings with finance & insurance, makes her an expert in the fascinating study of following money trails through account books. "Total Recall" reveals the background to Dr Lotty Herschell's escape from Europe, while V.I. investigates a man using a name Lottie remembers from her past, but she refuses to identify it. He insists he is related to her friend Max, but refuses to reveal his real name. V.I.'s exasperation with clues that lead nowhere, a local blue-collar family cheated of death insurance, apparently connected to banks in Switzerland, where protesters in Chicago are calling for recovery of holocaust assets. The plot is exacerbated by a recovered-memory therapist who insists the imposter is who he claims. Lotty crumbles slowly under the pressure of her past, while V.I. drives around Chicago piecing together a mosaic of information from deaths & lies & misplaced corporate loyalty. As always, Warshawski is driven forward mostly by impatience but also her sense of honour & determination to keep her word, solve the mysteries & put everything right. There is nobody anywhere as exciting or as ethically bolshie as V.I. There isn't a shred sanctimony in Paretsky's books, but each is written with witty humour & a strong social conscience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but missing something. 5 Dec 2001
By E. Chittenden VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good book, one of SP's best I feel. I enjoyed delving deeper into the life of Lotty, even though I guessed what had happened to her about a 1/4 of the way through the book. I really did enjoy it, however one small thing without giving too much away the end disapointed me as there wasn't really closure on one of the characters in the book. Is he going to be in the next one?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars okay 1 Aug 2008
By TKr
Format:Audio CD
Whilst the story is entertaining and well told it's not exactly hihghly original and becomes predicatble pretty soon. The ending doesn't satisfy as the people who were the killers usually would not get their hands dirty. The reading is well executed but the high pitched girly voice doesn't sound much like a seasoned private investigator.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I would have graded this book at 3.5 stars, if I could, so I rounded to the even number above as my math teachers always taught me to do.
Total Recall is built around the theme of how our current behavior is held prisoner by our perceptions of the past. Ms. Paretsky does a fine job of making it clear that we should keep our eyes open, look around, and exercise an open mind instead.
The strength of this book is the way that many different story lines are intertwined in a way that keeps your attention and mostly make sense. Despite this successful plot design, I was disappointed that several promising themes were raised and not fully dealt with, such as "recovered" memory, what Holocaust survivors should and should not feel guilt about, and the need for proper management and regulation of insurance companies. I would have been glad to read another 100 pages of this fine work to explore more in these areas.
The book's key weaknesses were in two areas: First, the characters are developed in ways that make them less strong and heroic than you probably have thought of them based on earlier V.I. Warshawski novels, particularly Lotty. Ms. Paretsky seems to have a jaundiced view of the moral strength and courage of her characters in this book except for Vic, which left me feeling a little down at the end. To me, the book's portrayal of the ongoing characters in this series seemed inauthentic in terms of the earlier novels. Second, the ultimate resolution of who the "bad guys" are and why they have been misbehaving didn't seem quite believable. I would have liked a better "rabbit out of the hat" to explain all of the contemporary wrong-doing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Paretsky's best 22 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Sara Paretsky is one of my favorite authors and with Hard Time she's surpassed herself. I was disappointed with Total Recall even if it is a good book. Most of all, it does shed some light on Lotty and I now understand her much better than I did before. She was a lovable character but I did wonder about the reasons for her extreme aloofness. Now I understand and I like her even more. However, even if some of the power is clearly there (Lotty and her story), some is missing (the Swiss people are not very much alive, and the therapist remains a mystery).
However, it's a wonderful book nonetheless. I love Sara P. and Vic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read 31 Jan 2014
By growler
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yet another great read from Sara Paretsky..A very intriguing and captivating story right till the end. I recommend this to anybody who likes detective stories.
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