review An Evening with Sara Paretsky

On TV, on the radio and moving from Topping’s charming bookstore in the High Street Ely to a larger venue – what is so special about Sara Paretsky that makes her so popular? There are SO many crime writers out there, why should she be any different?

It was not until I heard her speak at St Peter’s Church in Ely that it became obvious. Her wit, delight in irony and above all, her determination to root out and air the evils of her city Chicago, transfix your attention. You are left with a sense of admiration and awe. This woman is a formidable force and her writing compelling and instructive. 

Her latest book, Hardball, pulls no punches. The political corruption that Chicago boasts and past injustices that lie unpunished are presented directly in her story as her intrepid heroine, private investigator V I Warshawski , battles to find out the truth about a missing person. Prejudice, police torture and an intransigently corrupt society provide an almost impenetrable force for VI to overcome. You are compelled to empathize with her sense of injustice.    

When Sara worked voluntarily in Chicago in the summer of 1966 the city was one of the most segregated cities in America. African Americans were not permitted to rent or own houses in certain districts; they were banned from beaches and from certain jobs. Martin Luther King was asked to come and join the campaign for equality bringing with him the media that offered a certain amount of protection for the protesters.  Sara described how few people understand how violent it had been at that time. She had felt an urgent need to tell the story. This urgent need to explore depths of the corruption that few would dare touch makes her stand out as an inspirational person and stimulating author.

As a Jew she visited Germany and noticed the humility and shame felt by many of the Germans she met. Yet, in America, she senses little of this guilt about injustices of the past. It is no wonder her husband calls her a pit bull ready to take on anyone as long as they are four times her size.  Sara is indeed an indomitable force as a writer and campaigner for social morality. There are good reasons why her books published in over 30 countries are among the top best sellers.

The next author to feature at Toppings will be Ely writer Jim Kelly in St Mary’s Church on Thursday 4th March.

Contacts:

http://www.saraparetsky.com

ely@toppingbooks.co.uk

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