Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Sara Paretsky  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Mystery

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1947 in Ames, Iowa

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Illinois Connection

Paretsky moved to Chicago when she finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas. She still resides there today.

Biographical and Professional Information

Sara Paretsky is best known for her mystery movels featuring the female private investigator, VI Warshawski. While born in Ames, Iowa, she grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. Educated at the University of Kansas and the University of Chicago, Paretsky worked in several Chicago business corporations. Her writing career began in 1977 and she has been the recipient of several literary awards.

She created Sisters in Crime, a worldwide organization to support women crime writers, which earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year Award.

View Sara Paretsky's Library of Congress book talks:

*Fire Sale book talk from 2/27/2007 at:

*Shell Game: A V.I. Warshawski Novel with Maureen Corrigan from the National Book Festival on August 31, 2019 at:


A Woman's Eye

Anthony Award


Gold Dagger Award, Crime Writers Association

Other Awards and Honors

The Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for Lifetime Achievement, Crime Writers Association

Grand Master Award, Mystery Writers of America

Lifetime Achievement, Anthony Award

Ms. Woman of the Year for creating Sisters in Crime, 1987

Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement, Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2019

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

Selected Titles At Your Library

A taste of life and other stories /
ISBN: 9780146000409. OCLC Number: 60265533

. .

Bitter medicine /
ISBN: 0340935154. OCLC Number: 191811121

Hodder Paperbacks,. .

Blacklist :
ISBN: 0141010231. OCLC Number: 51726908

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. .

This is a story of secrets and betrayals that stretch across four generations-secrets political, social, sexual, financial: all of them with the power to kill. Eager for something physical to do in the spirit-exhausting wake of 9/11, V.I. accepts a request from an old client to check up on an empty family mansion; subsequently surprises an intruder in the dark; and, giving chase, topples into a pond. Grasping for something to hold on to, her fingers close around a lifeless human hand. It is the body of a reporter who had been investigating events of forty-five years earlier, during the McCarthy era, and V.I.'s discovery quickly sucks her into the history of two great Chicago families-their fortunes intertwined by blood, sex, money, and the scandals that may or may not have resulted in murder all these years later. At the same time, she inadvertently becomes involved in the story of a missing Egyptian boy whose possible terrorist connections make him very much sought after by the government. As the two cases drive her forward-and then shockingly tumble together-she finds that wealth and privilege, too, bear a terrible price; and the past has no monopoly on patriotic scoundrels. Before everything is over, at least two more people will lie dead ... and V.I. might even be one of them. A novel as passionate, complex, and powerfully entertaining as its acclaimed heroine, Blacklist is a stunning achievement.

Bleeding Kansas /
ISBN: 0451224485. OCLC Number: 167764306

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. .

The late-twentieth-century descendants of anti-slavery emigrants worry about maintaining religious superiority over a rival family while launching a harassment campaign against a Wiccan newcomer, an effort that is challenged by a young man's military service.

Blood shot
ISBN: 9781444761443. OCLC Number: 811731186

Hodder,. .

V.I. Warshawski isn't crazy about going back to her old south Chicago neighborhood, but a promise is something she always keeps. Caroline, a childhood friend, has a dying mother and a problem -- after twenty-five years she wants V.I. to find the father she never knew. But when V.I. starts probing into the past, she not only finds out where all the bodies are buried -- she stumbles onto a very new corpse. Now she's stirring up a deadly mix of big business and chemical corruption that may become a toxic shock to a snooper who knows too much.--Amazon website.

Body work /
ISBN: 0451413083. OCLC Number: 759841370

Signet Select,. .

An audience-participation performance by a controversial artist is disrupted by a violent outburst culminating in the artist's murder days later, prompting V.I. Warshawski to prove the innocence of an Iraqi war veteran charged with the crime.

Breakdown /
ISBN: 0399157832. OCLC Number: 738336479

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When the teenage daughters of some of Chicago's most influential families discover the body of a ritually murdered victim, investigator Warshawski explores theories that the killing is linked to a hostile media campaign against a senatorial candidate or a wealthy patriarch's childhood in Nazi-occupied Lithuania.

Brush back /
ISBN: 0399160574. OCLC Number: 903213156

. .

Reluctantly agreeing to help when an old boyfriend asks her to exonerate his mother for the murder of his sister, V.I. Warshawski is forced to confront ugly politics and violent elements in her hometown.

Burn Marks
ISBN: B01F9QAAA4. OCLC Number:

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Critical mass /
ISBN: 0399160566. OCLC Number: 837144322

. .

"New York Times-bestselling author Sara Paretsky's brilliant protagonist V.I. Warshawski returns in another hard-hitting entry, combining razor-sharp plotting and compelling characters with a heady mix of timely political and social themes. V.I. Warshawski's closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder. When Kitty's daughter finds her life is in danger, she calls Lotty, who, in turn, summons V.I. to help. The daughter's troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the mad competition among America, Germany, Japan and England to develop the first atomic bomb. The secrets are old, but the people who continue to guard them today will not let go of them without a fight."--

ISBN: 0062435922. OCLC Number: 1110442346

. .

ISBN: 9780307781284. OCLC Number: 704984446

Dell Pub.,. .

When Chicago Black Hawks hockey legend Boom Boom Warshawski slips off a wharf and drowns in Lake Michigan, cousin V.I. questions the report of accidental death and rumors of suicide. V.I. searches for leads and finds a trail of violence and corruption. It takes her to the center of Chicago's powerful shipping industry. There she ferrets out her cousin's killer -- but nearly gets painted out of the picture -- permanently!

Fallout :
ISBN: 0062435841. OCLC Number: 952207079

. .

V.I. Warshawski travels to Kansas to investigate the disappearances of a young film student and a faded Hollywood star, but long-simmering racial tensions stir up more mysteries as the body count rises.

Fire sale
ISBN: 9781501282874. OCLC Number: 936412525

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V.I. Warshawski may have left her old South Chicago neighborhood, but she learns that she cannot escape it. When V.I. takes over coaching duties of the girls' basketball team at her former high school, she faces an ill-equipped, ragtag group of gangbangers, fundamentalists, and teenage moms who inevitably draw the detective into their family woes.

Ghost Country.
ISBN: 1299005233. OCLC Number: 843023672

Delta,. .

Guardian angel /
ISBN: 9780385299312. OCLC Number: 24105936

. .

After her golden retriever has puppies, and her yuppie neighbors put them to sleep while dog-sitting, V.I. uncovers a corporate network of murder and corruption.

Hard time
ISBN: 9781444761542. OCLC Number: 812688183

Hodder,. .

Multimedia conglomerate Global Entertainment has purchased the Chicago Herald-Star, forcing the paper's staff to scramble to stay employed. Reporter Murray Ryerson, V.I.'s longtime friend and sometime rival, manages to reinvent himself as the host of a television show on Global's network. On her way home from a party celebrating Murray's debut, V.I. almost runs over a woman lying in the street. Stopping to help, V.I. soon learns that her Good Samaritan act will drop her squarely in a boiling intrigue. In a case that forces her to go head-to-head with one of the world's largest providers of private security and prison services, a case that exposes dark hidden truths behind the razzle-dazzle of the entertainment industry, V.I. will be ahead of the game if she gets out alive.

ISBN: 9781101133828. OCLC Number: 495795583

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. .

When V.I. Warshawski is asked to find a man who's been missing for four decades, a search that she figured would be futile becomes lethal. Afraid to learn that her adored father might have been a bent cop working for the Chicago P.D., V.I. takes the investigation all the way to its frightening end.

Indemnity only /
ISBN: 034093512X. OCLC Number: 85897784

Hodder,. .

Meeting an anonymous client on a sizzling summer night is asking for trouble. Especially when the client lies and tells V.I. Warshawski he's the prominent banker John Thayer, looking for his son's missing girlfriend. But V.I. soon discovers the real John Thayer's son - and he's dead. As V.I. begins to question her mysterious client's motives, she sinks deeper into Chicago's darker side: a world of gangsters, insurance fraud and contract killings. And while she must concentrate on saving the life of someone she has never met, it becomes clear that she is in danger of losing her own.

Killing orders
ISBN: 9781501282881. OCLC Number: 936412447

. .

It begins as a $3 million heist from a Dominican priory. It spirals into a case of lethal complexity that may unite big corporate conspirators, Chicago's underworld bosses and the Church itself in a very unholy trinity. V.I. Warshawski's job is to find out for sure ... even though it's clear she might die trying.

Love and Other Crimes :
ISBN: 9780062915542. OCLC Number: 1143826960

. .

In "Miss Bianca," a young girl becomes involved in espionage when she befriends a mouse in a laboratory that is conducting dark experiments. Ten-year-old V.I. Warshawski appears in "Wildcat," embarking on her very first investigation to save her father. A hardboiled New York detective and elderly British aristocrat team up to reveal a murderer in Chicago during the World's Fair in "Murder at the Century of Progress." In the new title story, "Love & Other Crimes," V.I. treads the line between justice and vengeance when the wrongful firing of a family friend makes him a murder suspect.

Shell game /
ISBN: 9780062435866. OCLC Number: 1037887778

. .

"Sara Paretsky follows her instant New York Times bestseller Fallout--her most widely read novel in years--with an extraordinary adventure that pits her acclaimed detective, V.I. Warshawski, against some of today's most powerful figures. Legendary sleuth V.I. Warshawski returns to the Windy City to save an old friend's nephew from a murder arrest. The case involves a stolen artifact that could implicate a shadowy network of international criminals. As V.I. investigates, the detective soon finds herself tangling with the Russian mob, ISIS backers, and a shady network of stock scams and stolen art that stretches from Chicago to the East Indies and the Middle East. In Shell Game, nothing and no one are what they seem, except for the detective herself, who loses sleep, money, and blood, but remains indomitable in her quest for justice"--

Sisters on the case :
ISBN: 9781436247962. OCLC Number: 457224461

New American Library,. .

Presents twenty mystery stories from various writers, including Sue Henry, Barbara D'Amato, Carolyn Hart, and Sara Paretsky.

The Guardian Angel
ISBN: 9600040003675. OCLC Number: 1078557065

. .

Total recall :
ISBN: 0440224713. OCLC Number: 50845458

Dell Pub.,. .

While investigating a case of insurance fraud perpetrated on a poor family from Chicago's South Side, private detective V.I. Washawski is called in to assist her dear friend and mentor, Dr. Lotty Hershel, who is faced with the appearance of a mysterious man who may have a terrifying link to Lotty's past and dangerous implications for her present.

Tunnel vision
ISBN: 9781444761504. OCLC Number: 811731196

. .

Stubbornness has landed private eye V.I. Warshawski in big trouble at her Chicago office. With her grand old Loop building set to be razed, she's become a hold-out tenant amid frayed wiring and scary, empty corridors. Then she finds a homeless woman with three kids in the basement, and before she can rescue them, they disappear. Worst of all, she's been implicated in a murder -- after the body of Deirdre Messenger, a prominent lawyer's wife, turns up sprawled across her desk--Amazon website.

Windy city blues
ISBN: 9781543641554. OCLC Number: 993971845

. .

It's strictly friends and family as V.I. Warshawski, makes return appearances in a collection of stories that bring new meaning to 'ties that bind.' Decked out in her silk shirts and no-nonsense Attitude, V.I. is out to make a living by the skin of her teeth.

Women on the case
ISBN: 0307425762. OCLC Number: 497838579

Dell Pub.,. .

26 stories ... featuring female sleuths.

Words, works, and ways of knowing :
ISBN: 022633774X. OCLC Number: 952338681

. .

ACrime writer Sara Paretsky is known the world over for her acclaimed series of mysteries starring Chicago private investigator V.I. Warshawski, now in its seventeenth installment. Paretsky's work has long been inflected with history--for her characters the past looms large in the present--and in her decades-long career, she has been recognized for transforming the role of women in contemporary crime fiction.--Words, Works, and Ways of Knowing--Rounding out the book, leading religious scholar Amanda Porterfield provides an afterword discussing where Paretsky's work fits into the contemporary study of religion. And in a sobering--sometimes shocking--preface, Paretsky paints a picture of what it was like to be a female graduate student at the University of Chicago in the 1970s. A treat for Paretsky's many fans, this book offers a glimpse of the development of the mind behind the mysteries.

Writing in an age of silence /
ISBN: 1844671224. OCLC Number: 84151426

Verso,. .

"Paretsky explores the traditions of political and literary dissent that have informed her life and work, against the unparalleled repression of free speech and thought in the USA today. In tracing the writer's difficult journey from silence to speech, she turns to her childhood and youth in rural Kansas, then evokes Chicago--the city with which she has become indelibly associated--from her arrival during the civil-rights struggle in the mid-1960s to her literary creation, the south-side detective V.I. Warshawski. Paretsky traces the emergence of Warshawski from the shadows of the loner detectives that stalk the mean streets of Dashiell Hammett's and Raymond Chandler's novels, and in the process explores American individualism, the failure of the American dream, and the resulting dystopia. Both memoir and meditation, this is a compelling exploration of the writer's art and daunting responsibility in the face of the assault on US civil liberties post-9/11"--Publisher description.