A client asks V.I. Warshawski to check on a problem for his aging mother, who has seen lights on after dark in her now-abandoned mansion. Visiting the property at night, V.I. startles a teenage girl. Chasing her, she falls into a pond, where she has company: the body of black journalist Marcus Whitby.

When police quickly rule Whitby's death a suicide, his sister hires V.I. to investigate. Dismayed by lack of police concern and the stonewalling she encounters from neighbors, V.I. delves into the reason for Whitby's presence in the wealthy enclave.

She learns that he was fascinated by Kylie Ballantine, a dancer blacklisted in the 1950s, and that two people he may have talked to have also died suspiciously. Meanwhile, V.I. tries to find a safe haven for an Arab teen caught up in post-9/11 hysteria—with the suburban police, the FBI and the Chicago cops watching her.

This ambitious novel covers periods and events that haunt many still living. As always, Paretsky's hallmarks—dense plot, compelling characters, crackling energy—shine through. More than just a mystery, this book is as real as today's headlines. A must-read for fans. (Oct., 432 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Lorraine Gelly