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, Paretsky grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. Educated at the University of Kansas and the University of Chicago, she worked afterwards in several Chicago business corporations. Her writing career began in 1977 and she has been the recipient of several literary awards.View Sara Paretsky's [ ''Fire Sale'' book talk] at the Library of Congress from 2/27/2007.

Selected Titles At Your Library

Indemnity only /
ISBN: 034093512X. OCLC Number:

Hodder,. London :. 2007.

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.

Deadlock /
ISBN: 0340935138. OCLC Number:

Hodder,. London :. 2007.

Boom Boom's body was found floating near the docks, chewed up and spat out by a ship's propeller. Friends since childhood, Vic and Boom Boom had a pact, they looked out for each other. Now a private eye, Vic wants to know exactly how Boom Boom died.

Killing orders /
ISBN: 0340935146. OCLC Number:

Hodder Paperbacks,. London :. 2007.

When Detective V.I. Warshawski begins an investigation of a three million dollar theft from a monastery, acid is thrown in her face, and she suspects she might be taking on the Vatican, the Mafia, and an international conglomerate.

Bitter medicine /
ISBN: 0340935154. OCLC Number:

Hodder Paperbacks,. London :. 2008.

Burn marks /
ISBN: 0739342495. OCLC Number:

Random House Audio,. New York :. [2007], ℗1990.

When Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski investigates a fire at a SRO hotel that leaves her aunt homeless, she becomes embroiled in a tangle of political corruption, arson, and murder.

Hard time :
ISBN: 1597771422. OCLC Number:

Phoenix Audio,. Beverly Hills, CA :. ©2006.

When V.I. Warshawski nearly runs over a battered and discarded woman who is lying in the street, she begins an investigation that takes her from the pampered world of a Hollywood star to a behind-the-bars look at a women's prison.

Total recall :
ISBN: 0440224713. OCLC Number:

Dell Pub.,. New York :. 2002, ©2001.

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.

Blacklist :
ISBN: 0141010231. OCLC Number:

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. New York :. ©2003.

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.

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

Verso,. London ;. 2007.

"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.

Sisters on the case :
ISBN: 0451222393. OCLC Number:

New American Library,. New York :. [2007]

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

Bleeding Kansas /
ISBN: 0451224485. OCLC Number:

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. New York :. ©2008.

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.

Hardball /
ISBN: 0399155937. OCLC Number:

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. New York :. ©2009.

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.

Body work /
ISBN: 0451413083. OCLC Number:

Signet Select,. New York :. 2011, ©2010.

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:

. .

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.

Critical mass /
ISBN: 0399160566. OCLC Number:

. .

"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."--

Brush back /
ISBN: 0399160574. OCLC Number:

. .

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.

Fallout :
ISBN: 0062435841. OCLC Number:

. .

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.


  • The Cartier Diamond Dagger-lifetime achievement award
  • The Golden Dagger
  • Mark Twain Award
  • Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, Oxford University
  • Ms. Woman of the Year
  • Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

    For professional writing projects, contact:

  • Dominick Abel Literary Agency, Inc.
    146 West 82nd St. 1A
    New York, NY 10024

    Phone: 212-877-0710
    Fax: 212-595-3133

    For speaking engagements, contact:

  • Trinity Ray
    Tuesday Agency
    123 North Linn Street, Suite 2C
    Iowa City, Iowa 52245

    Phone: 319-338-7080

    For all other inquiries, contact:

  • Marge Ishmael
    Assistant to Sara Paretsky