Private investigator V.I. Warshawski is strong and smart, and she needs both brawn and brains to solve this complex and carefully plotted mystery. Inspired by the true story of Europe’s women scientists who were involved in the desperate, multinational dash to develop the first atomic bomb. Critical Mass traces the sad story of atomic physicist Martina Saginor, a woman driven to forsake all for science during the days of World War II and the ramifications that reverberated through the generations. Although the story is set in the present, detailed flashbacks re-create an era of Nazi horrors and personal misdeeds.
A call from a close friend starts Warshawski on the search for Martina’s great-grandson, who appears to have gone missing from his job at a high-stakes energy technology firm. Seems easy enough until VI finds herself slogging through the dregs of a downstate drug meth house, decking drug dealers on Chicago’s west side and matching wits with a paranoid and housebound survivor of Nazi evil and mayhem. Every place Warshawski visits, the New York Times best-selling author Paretsky brings to life with precise detail – the feel, the look, the smell and often the horror.
Critical Mass is more than a story of intrigue fueled by betrayal, murder, theft and bitter rivalries. Entwined within the mystery, Paretsky draws a strong portrayal of the injustices that women endured and continue to face in the world of politics and science. “A career crowning achievement” says the London Times.