Sara Paretsky

Best known as the creator of the groundbreaking female detective protagonist V.I. Warshawksi, Sara Paretsky steps away from the PI in Bleeding Kansas, which is part historical fiction, part modern-day, small-town melodrama. The novel is set in Lawrence, a college town full of fascinating anti-slavery, pro Civil Rights history, which Paretsky plumbs as she examines the "what's wrong with Kansas?" phenomenon. The story centers on the part local, part big-city (read: mostly liberal) Grellian family and the conservative Schapens who rile up their neighbors with their judgmental busy-bodying. Throw in lesbian Wiccans, the "Perfect Red Heifer," and an Iraqi soldier, and families hurtle toward inevitable conflict and upheaval. Although sometimes a little overwhelmed by the multitude of supporting characters and families involved, the plot moves along quickly and is filled with observations about everyday Kansan life.
Fri., Jan. 4, 7 p.m., 2008

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