V. I. Warshawski
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|V. I. Warshawski|
|First appearance||Indemnity Only (1982)|
|Created by||Sara Paretsky|
|Portrayed by||Kathleen Turner|
|Aliases||Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski|
|Family||Anton "Tony" Warshawski (father)
Gabriella Sestrieri (mother)
|Spouse(s)||Dick Yarborough (ex-husband)|
Victoria Iphigenia "Vic" "V. I." Warshawski is a fictional character in a series of detective novels and short stories written by Sara Paretsky. She is a gritty, independent private investigator from Chicago. Aside from one short story, The Pietro Andromache, all of Warshawski's adventures are written in the first person.
Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski, called "Vic" by her friends, is the daughter of Italian-born Gabriella Sestrieri and Polish Anton "Tony" Warshawski, a former Chicago Police Officer. Gabriella died of cancer when Vic was in high school; Tony died ten years later in 1976, implying that Vic was born circa 1950. We also learn from Blood Shot (published as "Toxic Shock" in the U.K.) that Vic was last at her high school some 20 years previously, making the setting of this story in 1988, the year of the book’s publication. In an interview, Sara Paretsky pointed out that Warshawski aged in real time.
Vic grew up on the Southeast Side of Chicago, in the shadow of shuttered steel mills and factories. After earning a law degree at the University of Chicago and a short stint as a Public Defender, she became a private detective specializing in white-collar crime. She is divorced from corporate lawyer Dick Yarborough and has no children.
In most novels, Vic is drawn into murder cases connected to white-collar crime and regularly ends up pursuing cases that affect her friends, estranged family, or those she feels are being bullied by the upper crust of Chicago.
Hot-tempered, sarcastic, and fiercely self-reliant, Vic prefers T-shirts and jeans and sleeps in the nude, but she can dress stylishly if necessary. She hates to admit being scared or vulnerable. Her capable and willful personality has led fans and literary critics to consider her one of the few feminist detectives. She loves opera and classical music, often singing arias and playing her piano in times of stress. She stays trim despite a ravenous appetite and favors multi-course ethnic meals with good wine. She often indulges in big, greasy breakfasts and Kielbasa sausage sandwiches.
She shares two dogs, Peppy and Mitch, with her neighbor.
In addition to one failed marriage, Vic has had a few lovers over the years. Some of them appear in more than one book, even after the relationship has ended.
Her closest friend is Viennese physician, Dr. Charlotte “Lotty” Herschel, who treats her various illnesses and combat-related injuries.
(Note: Because the novels and short stories span a large number of years and there are changes at the end of each one, some characters do not appear as the novels progress, or do not appear until later novels. Characters listed here appear in at least two novels.)
- Carol Alvarado, a nurse at Dr. Herschel's clinic
- Sal Barthele, statuesque owner of the Golden Glow bar
- Freeman Carter, V. I.’s legal counsel on retainer
- Salvatore Contreras, downstairs widower neighbor and slightly overbearing friend
- Terry Finchley, a police detective whom V. I. interacts with regularly
- Darraugh Graham, an extremely important and long-standing client
- Dr. Charlotte “Lotty” Herschel, close friend and perinatologist at Beth Israel Hospital; formerly had her own clinic as a general practitioner
- Max Loewenthal, Lotty’s significant other; executive director of Beth Israel Hospital and an art and music aficionado
- Bobby Mallory, police officer and friend of V. I.’s father Tony
- John McGonnigal, police officer who regularly interacts with V. I.
- Mary Louise Neely, an officer in the Chicago P.D. who provides a significant amount of assistance to V.I. over time
- Conrad Rawlings, a detective in the Chicago P.D.
- Murray Ryerson, reporter at the Herald-Star newspaper; V. I.’s longtime friend and sometime rival
With year of first publication:
- Indemnity Only (1982)
- Deadlock (1984) Basis of the film V.I. Warshawski, starring Kathleen Turner
- Killing Orders (1985)
- Bitter Medicine (1987)
- Blood Shot (1988) Published as Toxic Shock in the UK.
- Burn Marks (1990)
- Guardian Angel (1992)
- Tunnel Vision (1994)
- Hard Time (1999)
- Total Recall (2001)
- Blacklist (2003)
- Fire Sale (2005)
- Hardball (2009)
- Body Work (2010)
- Breakdown (2012)
Short Story Collections
- Windy City Blues (1995) Published as V.I. For Short in the UK.
- V.I. × 2 (2002)
Only Deadlock has been turned into a movie, V. I. Warshawski, with Kathleen Turner in the title role. The film, which took many creative liberties with Paretsky's character, was meant as a franchise for Turner, but those plans were scrapped when it was not a commercial success, grossing only $11.1 million domestically.
BBC Radio 4 has produced four radio dramas based on the series. The first two, Deadlock and Killing Orders, feature Kathleen Turner reprising her movie role, with Eleanor Bron as Dr. Charlotte “Lotty” Herschel. The third, Bitter Medicine, stars Sharon Gless as Warshawski and in the fourth, "Publicity Stunts," http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer Warshawski is accused of murder and, with all eyes upon her, goes after the truth before the law closes in on her.
- Warshawski was highlighted in volume 12 of the Case Closed manga's edition of "Gosho Aoyama's Mystery Library," a section of the graphic novels (usually the last page) where the author introduces a different detective (or occasionally, a villain) from mystery literature, television, or other media.
- In the Flash animated Internet cartoon, Homestar Runner, V. I. Warshawski is mentioned on Version 10.2 and Version 16.2 of Marzipan's Answering Machine.
- Blood Shot
- "Author Sara Paretsky". Saraparetsky.com. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2010-10-05.
- "V.I. Warshawski: A Surveillance Report". Chicago Sun-Times. July 28, 1991.
- Martin, Nora. (1996). "In the business of believing women's stories": Feminism through detective fiction (Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton) (M.A. thesis) Wilfrid Laurier University
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