Hard Time continues Paretsky's series featuring V.I. Warshawski,an impoverished Chicago investigator whose penchant for offbeat criminal cases starts this time by almost running over a gaunt young woman left to die on a side street. With elements of the Chicago Police Force trying to pin vehicular homocide on her, and the accident report and corpse disappearing, it takes careful exploration to establish that the victim was a prisoner jailed because of a missing fifty thousand dollar necklace from her employer's home. Coincidentally, the same person owns the private, "for profit" prison that the victim had "fled." Being incarcerated in Coolis prison gives Warshawski a chance to investigate a ring of greed, sex, and power that invades the highest levels of the state. And with the help of her dog, Peppy, and her incorrigible downstairs neighbor, V.I. manages another triumph, and maybe a little tryst.
Hard Time is another chapter in the plucky life of this endearing heroine who can count on dear friends to help her stumble to success. Comments and observations about changes in the criminal justice system make reading this book an educational as well as recreational experience.
Reviewed by ks, 7/00. Other reviews by ks.