Critical Mass

Critical Mass

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780399160561
  • 480 Pages
  • G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Adult


Called a “career-crowning triumph”  and named one of the the top 50 mysteries and thrillers of the last 5 years by the London Sunday Times, Sara Paretsky is back with Critical Mass the latest entry in the VI Warshawski series, 

“Vic is at her stubborn, reckless, compassionate best in this complicated page-turner about selfish secrets passed down through generations. Paretsky has been on a roll lately, her long-running, trailblazing series at its most dynamic since the early days.”  —Booklist on Critical  Mass

V.I. Warshawski’s closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust.  Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder.  When Kitty’s daughter finds her life is in danger, she calls Lotty, who, in turn, summons V.I. to help.  The daughter’s troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the mad competition among America, Germany, Japan and England to develop the first atomic bomb.  The secrets are old, but the people who continue to guard them today will not let go of them without a fight.  



“This is Paretsky at her best, describing with a reporter’s eye and a painter’s vision the light and texture of a place. A scene that throbs with menace concludes with a shock. Yet the tension, palpable from the first page, is sustained and deftly heightened by brief flashbacks to a wartime and postwar world of shifting loyalties and dangers. …Warshawski, for her part, must confront not only killers but also crooked federal agents. Which she does, as always, without breaking her stride.” —The Washington Post
Critical Mass proves that this gifted author is still, justifiably, a star. …Paretsky has an impressive knack for weaving gripping history into her swift plot.”
                                                                        —The Seattle Times
“Sara Paretsky seems to have renewed creative energy, evident in pages that almost turn themselves.”
                        —Erie-Times News
“There are plenty of women among the ranks of genre authors, but not many like Sara Paretsky, whose intellectually lively mysteries featuring her gutsy Chicago private eye, V.I. Warshawski, are fired by political causes and feminist social issues….Paretsky makes us feel both her own love for science and her fury at the way women like Martina have been denied the pursuit of their passion.”
                        —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
“Readers don’t have to understand all the physics to get inside this riveting story.”
                        —Shelf Awareness
“With entombments, solved mysteries, loose ends neatly tied, good writing and a little bit of love, Critical Mass is a thoroughly satisfying read.”
Saint Louis Post-Dispatch
“Sara Paretsky mystery capers are always full of twists and turns, including surprising elements that this reviewer eagerly anticipates when reading her books. CRITICAL MASS is a complex family mystery that reaches from the past into the modern day, and is one of Paretsky’s best….It takes a character like V.I. Warshawski, who is willing to see justice served at any cost, to get to the truth. And this is exactly what has endeared Paretsky’s time-tested heroine to so many faithful readers.”
“A daring departure for Paretsky, combining her interests in women’s history, science and the Holocaust – and is a career crowning triumph.”
                        —The Sunday Times (London)
“Although she has been writing about Vic for more than 30 years, Paretsky always keeps the character fresh and believable. Vic feels the blows and tumbles she takes more than she used to, but she’s as relentless as ever. In Critical Mass, both Warshawski and Paretsky are at the top of their forms.”
Tampa Bay Times
“As usual, V.I.’s quest is fraught with plenty of danger and white-knuckle moments. … It is as much a breathless mystery as a historical delving into science and wartime academic politics. An intellectual mystery that will please the author’s many fans.”
Library Journal
“V.I. has a charismatic and blistering way of bringing old secrets to light.”  – Kirkus
“Stellar…Paretsky builds suspense by deftly weaving the contemporary narrative with flashbacks.”
                        —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Paretsky has been on a roll lately, her long-running, trailblazing series at its most dynamic since the early days.”
                                    —Booklist (starred review)


A V.I. Warshawski Novel
Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky


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