Tag: Bitter Medicine

WWW Wednesday

Bonjour tout la monde: WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Worlds where we will answer the following questions.

  • What are you currently Reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

While this is a weekly meme, I think I’ll only be doing it when I’m just about to finish a book—and about to start a new one—which makes more sense, right?

What I’m currently reading:

I’m reading an ARC sent to me by Titan books, the first book in a SF trilogy, Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell, but I’m struggling. What should have taken me about 3 evenings to read, has taken all weekend, and we’re now Wednesday and I still haven’t finished it. It’s not that it’s a bad book, just not a great one. Frustrating to say the least.

What did I recently finish reading:

I just recently finished reading Bitter Medicine by Sara Paretsky, which was an excellent read. You can always rely on Paretsky and her V.I. Warshawski series to provide a thoroughly engrossing read.

What I plan on reading next:

I’m excited to read And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic this coming weekend which, truth be told, has been sat on my TBR for some time now. But, as I joined in to do the #OcTBRChallenge, in which you tackle left over books on your TBR, I’ve managed to read through a few. Some good, some not so great. But at least the pile is shrinking.

And you, what are you currently reading, or thinking of reading next?

Looking for a Criminally Good Read

I’ve read 3 books since the start of October, one was a short novella that was supposed to be a taut futuristic thriller—Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds—and let me tell you, it was anything but. I followed this up with two crime fiction novels. Of the two novels one was exemplary while the other, well, wasn’t.

Let’s start with Overkill (2019) a debut novel by NZ author, Vanda Symon, which was less than stellar, to say the least. The story features Sam Shepherd, a feisty young rookie cop, or so we’re told. However, the more I read about her the less I liked her. For me at least, she came across as whiney, petulant, and prone to fits of temper—she threw her phone … a lot!

After a while, this kind of behaviour becomes tiresome. Add in a cast of secondary characters that had about as much depth as the paper they were printed on, and a story full of plot holes, and it became dull very quickly. Worse, the author was want to lead the reader to conclusions, rather than let the reader come across them organically. And let me tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than being spoon-fed a narrative.

The other thing I found unnecessary was the need for a prologue centred around a nasty murder, which seem to be all about the shock value. It just read like hollow violence given how staid and boring the rest of the book was.

All-in-all, this was a plodding police procedural, with little or no depth of story or characters.


In stark contrast, the second crime novel I read, and one that was almost a palate cleanser, was Bitter Medicine (1987) by one of my go-to authors, Sara Paretsky. Her V. I. Warshawski detective series just goes from strength to strength. Each story is always so well-plotted and peopled with characters that really come across as fleshed out and always, all too human.

In Bitter Medicine, V. I. or, Vic to her friends, is wading her way—as usually—through a mess of leads over a fatal death of a pregnant young woman in hospital and the subsequent death of one of the doctors who treated her. I love how Paretsky takes the reader up and down the emotional highway, as Vic checks out one lead after another, piecing together how it was that Consuelo Alvarez, and her new born baby died. And how the brutal murder of Dr. Malcolm Tregiere ties in, if at all.

Of course, V. I. never solves the puzzle alone. She always relies on some great secondary characters to help her out along the way in the guise of her mentor, Dr. Lotty Herschel—who runs a women’s clinic in one of the poor areas of Chicago—and her reporter friend Murray Ryerson. Both are wonderfully written.

If you like your detectives smart-talking, hard-boiled, and female, then you can’t go wrong with a V. I. Warshawski novel.