Pay Dirt serves up a mystery where past and present collide in a Kansas community as a PI unravels a missing person’s case.

4-STAR REVIEW: PAY DIRT by Sara Paretsky

The Description

V. I. Warshawski Series: Book 22
Publication Date: April 16, 2024

Legendary detective V.I. Warshawski uncovers a mystery with roots dating back to the Civil War in this edge-of-your-seat thriller from New York Times bestseller Sara Paretsky.

V .I. Warshawski is famous for her cool under fire, her intelligence, her humor, her unflinching courage, and her love of good coffee. But even the strongest people sometimes need a break to recharge, so her friends send her to Kansas for a weekend of college basketball where Angela, one of her protégées, is playing. And that’s where trouble finds V.I.

Sabrina, one of Angela’s roommates, disappears and V.I. agrees to try to find her. Finding a missing person in a city where she knows few people and doesn’t have her trusted contacts is hard, but not as hard as the brutally negative reaction to the detective from some of the locals. When V.I. finds Sabrina close to death in a remote house, she lands herself in the FBI’s crosshairs and faces a violent online backlash. The men running the county’s opioid distribution are also not happy.

Discovering a dead body in the same house a few days later, V.I. is pitched headlong into a local land-use battle with roots going back to the Civil War. She finds that today’s combatants are just as willing as opponents in the 1860s to kill to settle their differences.

V.I.’s survival depends on keeping one step ahead of players in a game she never intended to play, before the clock runs down.

The Review

Private investigator Victoria “V.I.” Warshawski still has vivid nightmares about her last case, which also led to her fiancé accepting a work assignment on another continent.

In an effort to jump back into a routine, she accompanies friends to a basketball game in Kansas, away from her familiar Chicago landscape. Author Sara Paretsky uses this as the foundation for the 22nd installment in the V.I. Warshawski series, featuring Warshawski as the main character. Pay Dirt starts with V.I. getting pulled into a missing person’s case while in Kansas.

Told in first person, the story soon takes a darker twist when V.I. discovers a drug addiction connection. Far from her resources, she must navigate hostile police officers, along with the local criminal community.

With a definite cozy mystery undertone, the storyline evolves to include unreported campaign contributions and diaries from one of the community’s founding families, sparking racial debate and data farming.

The cast of characters—past and contemporary—is included at the end of the story. As someone new to the series, I didn’t feel a deep connection to V.I., although I couldn’t quite put my finger on anything specific that was wrong.

Pay Dirt serves up a mystery where past and present collide in a Kansas community as a PI unravels a missing person’s case.Buy Links

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About The AuthorHailed by the Washington Post as “the definition of perfection in the genre,” Sara Paretsky is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including the renowned V.I. Warshawski series. She is one of only four living writers to have received both the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. She lives in Chicago.



Amy Wilson
Amy Wilson
My name is Amy W., and I am a book addict. I will never forget the day I came home from junior high school to find my mom waiting for me with one of the Harlequin novels from my stash. As she was gearing up for the "you shouldn't be reading this" lecture, I told her the characters get married in the end. I'm just glad she didn't find the Bertrice Small book hidden in my closet. I have diverse reading tastes, evident by the wide array of genres on my Kindle. As I made the transition to an e-reader, I found myself worrying that something could happen to it. As a result, I am now the proud owner of four Kindles -- all different kinds, but plenty of back-ups! "Fifty Shades of Grey" gets high marks on my favorites list -- not for character development or dialogue (definitely not!), but because it blazed new ground for those of us who believe provocative fiction is more than just an explicit cover. Sylvia Day, Lexie Blake, and Kristin Hannah are some of my favorite authors. Speaking of diverse tastes, I also enjoy Dean Koontz, Iris Johansen, and J.A. Konrath. I’m always ready to discover new-to-me authors, especially when I toss in a palate cleanser that is much different than what I would normally read. Give me something with a well-defined storyline, add some suspense (or spice), and I am a happy reader. Give me a happily ever after, and I am downright giddy.


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Pay Dirt serves up a mystery where past and present collide in a Kansas community as a PI unravels a missing person’s case.4-STAR REVIEW: PAY DIRT by Sara Paretsky