Free Press Journal

Killing Orders by Sara Paretsky: Review

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Book: Killing Orders

Author: Sara Paretsky

Publisher: Harper Collins


Pages: 345; Price: Rs

When I chanced upon this book, the title itself namely “Killing Orders” caught my attention and of course I wasn’t surprised that the name of the author was none other than Sara Paretsky known to write nail-biting thrilling crime novels.

Killing orders is set in the time period of early 1980s and narrates the story of the author’s fictional muse a private investigator, V.I. Warshawski fondly known as Vic, who is smart, good looking, intelligent and a tough detective who gets involved in uncovering another crime. When the treasurer of one St. Albertus Magnus Priory, a local Dominican priory, that is, Vic’s great-aunt Rosa Vignelli is suspended on the account of her employers finding out that the safe in which valuables securities worth five million were deposited are actually all counterfeits, Rosa reaches out to Vic for help despite the bad blood and immense hatred between them. Vic on other hand being obligated to help under her dead mother’s solemn oath digs deeper into the case to prove Rosa’s innocence only to find out Rosa and her son suddenly decide to fire her from the case, but Vic is already too involved to quit and continues her investigation.

Further, her love interest one Roger Ferrant also gets accidentally involved when he realises that someone is trying to buy a high stake in his employer’s company. When the F.B.I refuses to help, Vic turns to her broker friend for help, who then is brutally murdered in her own office and things take a nasty turn. Suddenly it is Vic’ life that is in grave danger. Acid attacks and other futile attempts are made to take her off the case for good but she survives. The story further unveils the involvement of the Mafia, a Catholic Church and a secret international financial organization which add an interesting twist to the basic plot. Finally, how Vic uncovers the truth and finds out the real culprits is the gist of the book.

A few high points of the plot are that one that Vic is portrayed as a very strong protagonist even though vulnerable at times, but level headed, attractive and highly intelligent and reminded me of a young ‘Nancy Drew’ detective. The manner in which she single-handedly deals with the rogues is commendable and inspiring. Secondly, every character introduced is well defined and well executed in the story. As a reader you can well the characters as they are believable and real. Also the language of the book is lucid. Further, it also discreetly endorses that people should not blindly believe in any faith or religion and discriminate other faiths and emphasises on the importance of friendship and trust. As a reader you can connect

However, the story gets slightly confusing in between and loses its track and pace which as a reader I was disappointed. Also the climax is abrupt and predictable although it could have been more nail biting.

It is one –time read for sure especially for the author’s flair in narrating the story, Vic’s brilliant depiction and an unusual twist in the crime. Paretsky has chosen the period of 1980s which was the era when high-end technology and gadgets were only at their nascent stage and how communication was only through landlines has been expressed well. The book does keep you gripped. There are some spine-chilling moments especially since the crime takes place in the months of December and January in the winter season in Chicago.

Going by the author’s past laurels and the accolades she has received for her earlier novels, this could have been more thrilling, but it is still a page turner  under the genre of crime fiction.