There is a body artist who works in a Chicago night club. She permits customers to paint her naked body on stage. Her image is posted on a web-cam. Then, she sells the images to the public.
V.I. Warshawski witnesses an ugly scene when a young painter creates intricate designs on the body artist. An intoxicated man makes accusations and is asked to leave the club. As Vic is leaving the club she witnesses the intoxicated man and the painter having a shouting match.
That woman is murdered and the man, Chad Visneski, is accused and arrested for the crime.
Chad is a vet who fought in Iraq. His father tells Vic that Chad suffers from PTSD but Chad's father doesn't think that his son would gun down an innocent woman and he hires Vic to clear his son's name.
Vic finds that the owner of the club was having financial difficulties and borrowed from Anton Kystarnik. This enabled Kystarnik to gain an interest in the club and demand certain things.
Vic turns up a lead on the body artist, Karin Buckley. Vic wants to see of Buckley knows anything about what is going on at the club.
The plot is complex and tightly connected and readers will be entertained.
Spoiler (Vic hires a number of Iraq vets and a question arises about U.S. contractors being issued faulty equipment by their employers who also sold some of this equipment to the government. Then the employers tried to bribe the families of the fallen employees so they wouldn't discuss what went on in Iraq.)
A number of the minor characters are interesting. One Iraq vet is staff sergeant Marty Jepson. He seems like the perfect son that most readers would dream of having. Another old friend of Vic's enters the scene. Mr. Conteras arrives and his appearance adds a realistic and personal touch. Clara Guaman is a character that the reader sees develop through the course of the novel.
The novel was overly long and could use a bit of tightening but I rate it four stars because of the issues the author deals with, the excellent description of Chicago, the layered plot and the engaging characters.
Sara Paretsky continues to compel her readers to confront uncomfortable truths about American society. In Body Work, she takes on the evils of war, corrupt corporate scheming, PTSD, and the exploitation of women. VI is hired by the father of an Iraq combat veteran, accused of murdering a young woman outside a seamy nightclub. Vic’s cousin Petra has taken a job there, and Vic’s familiar with the current act, in which patrons are invited to paint upon the body of a naked woman. … more
A shooting in Chicago is nothing new, certainly not to V.I., who is hired by a veteran's family to clear his name after his arrest for the murder of a performer known as the Body Artist. As V.I. seeks answers, her investigation will take her from the North Side of Chicago to the far reaches of the Gulf War.