Fine novels have always transcended their story lines to say something more universal about the way people are. Often, mystery novelists get caught up in their plots and fail to make an important statement. In Blacklist, Ms. Sara Paretsky provides an intriguing look at American politics, racism and sexism over the last century. It's an impressive job of impugning the motives and methods of the influential, powerful and wealthy in our society. Those who are ardent conservatives will hate this book. It isn't as tough on the liberals as it is on the conservatives during most of the book, and argues strongly against government challenges to our Constitutional rights, such as the Patriot Act and the Congressional search for Communists in the 1950s. The mystery is a fine one, and makes good use of the over 400 pages to develop the story slowly . . . allowing it to age in your mind like fine wine does. I especially liked the way that V.I. encountered many emotional and physical problems during the story that delayed and complicated her investigations, much like happens in real life. The book has two main weaknesses. First, it is too often preachy rather than illustrative or instructive. Second, Ms. Paretsky is too cynical for my taste about how much the powerful can get away with. She leaves us with the sense that we are powerless to protect those we love and ourselves from what the powerful want for their own personal agendas. Otherwise, I would have happily assigned this book five stars. I would like to commend Ms. Paretsky for working some of the worst characteristics of the Patriot Act into her story, illustrating problems that too few people are aware of. The story itself has two entertwined plot lines that coincidentally connect up on an empty estate. Late one night, V.I. is poking around to discover the source of some mysterious lights inside the supposedly locked and secure empty mansion. V.I. spots a teenager on the grounds and grabs a clue from her that leads to identifying who the teen is. Then, while traipsing around in the dark, V.I. falls into an ornamental pond . . . and discovers a dead man. The police aren't very interested in what happned to the dead man, and V.I.'s persistence is essential to reveal what really happened. Is he connected to the mysterious lights? As I finished the story, I found myself thinking about Iago and all of the trouble he causes for Othello through his misrepresentations. We should be careful about how much we trust those in power. They may have hidden agendas that we are unaware of.