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Sara Paretsky (born June 8, 1947) is a modern Americanmarker author of detective fiction.

Life and career

Paretsky was born in Ames, Iowamarker and raised in Kansasmarker, graduating from the University of Kansasmarker with a degree in political science. She did community service work on the south side of Chicagomarker in 1966 and returned in 1968 to work there. She ultimately completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago; her dissertation was entitled "The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New Englandmarker Before the Civil War." She also earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Married to a professor of physics at the University of Chicago, she has lived in Chicagomarker since 1968.

The protagonist of all but two of Paretsky's novels is V.I. Warshawski, a female private investigator. Warshawski's eclectic personality defies easy categorization. She drinks Johnnie Walker Black Label, breaks into houses looking for clues, and can hold her own in a street fight, but also she pays attention to her clothes, sings opera along with the radio, and enjoys her sex life.

Paretsky is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel. The Winter 2007 issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection is devoted to her work.

Like the plots of other mystery writers including Dick Francis and Robert B. Parker, Paretsky's plots are based on the traditional formula: someone is murdered in the early pages to conceal a crime (which often involve important corporations and their business in Paretsky's novels), and more killings follow, culminating with Warshawski herself narrowly escaping being killed in a climactic confrontation with the murderer. As with Francis, the lack of variety in Paretsky's storylines is compensated for by rich details about the lives and businesses of Paretsky's characters. And, as in Parker's novels, local color abounds, in Paretsky's case including traffic on the Stevenson Expressway and the perennial travails of the Chicago Cubs.

Sara is an alum of the Ragdale Foundation.


  • Indemnity Only (1982)
  • Deadlock (1984)
  • Killing Orders (1985)
  • Bitter Medicine (1987)
  • Blood Shot (1988)
  • Burn Marks (1990)
  • Guardian Angel (1992)
  • Tunnel Vision (1994)
  • Ghost Country (1998) - non-Warshawski novel; ISBN 978-0385333368
  • Hard Time (1999) ISBN 0-385-31363-2
  • Total Recall (2001) ISBN 0-385-31366-7
  • Blacklist (2003) ISBN 0-399-15085-4
  • Fire Sale (2005) ISBN 978-0739455944
  • Bleeding Kansas (2008) - non-Warshawski novel; ISBN 978-0399154058
  • Hardball (2009)

Short story collections
  • Windy City Blues (1995)
  • V.I. x2 (2002)

  • Writing in an Age of Silence (2007) ISBN 978-1844671229

As editor
  • Women on the Case (1997) ISBN 978-0440223252
  • Sisters On the Case (2007) ISBN 978-0451222398


  1. Clues: A Journal of Detection 25.2 (Winter 2007). Ed. Margaret Kinsman. Theme issue on Sara Paretsky

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