When P.I. "Vic" Warshawski went to a local Chicago club to catch a music group, another act certainly got her attention. The "Body Artist", a woman who lets audience members come up and paint on her nude body, is the talk of the town. After a woman patron paints a flower design on the Body Artist, a vet in the audience goes into an angry tirade. Warshawski later sees the two arguing in an alley and not long after, the young woman is shot and ends up dying in Warshawski's arms. The young vet, Chad, is later arrested for her murder.
Chad's parents hire Warshawski to find the real murderer as they insist that although their son came back from Iraq very angry and moody, he would never murder anyone. Warshawski comes to the conclusion that Chad was set up as the circumstantial evidence is too pat for her liking. Who could have had it in for the both of them?
Delving into the case is like opening one box only to find another box inside and another box inside that. Every lead Warshawski chases down leads her deeper into another layer. Since the murdered woman's sister had been killed in Iraq and Chad did 4 tours in Iraq, Warshawski is convinced the answers stem from there even though she finds out Chad had no connection with the murdered woman or her sister. To make matters worse, the murdered woman's family will not talk about their daughter who died in Iraq. Somehow Warshawski has to make all the connections fit and this leads her to some very unexpected places.
Although this is the 14th in the Vic Warshawski series, it reads like a stand-alone. I 've read Paretsky before but it's been a while and I don't remember her books being this complex with such a layered plot. Excellently done with deep characterizations, lots of local color, realistic dialogue and numerous twists makes this one great read not to be missed. Since I had a hard time putting this one down, it gets a 4* rating from me.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Putnam through Good Reads.