I ended up borrowing this since the short stories go across different timelines. Once I found out that I didn't have to read this book in the order it appears in publication, I just scooped it up. I think that overall Sara Paretsky did a good job with these short stories starring VI Warshawski. There were two of them that I wish had been a bit longer and there was one that didn't work for me at all.
Introduction A Walk on the Wild Side: Touring Chicago with VI Warshawki-This was not a short story per se, it just gives a nice overview of Chicago and the area that our fictional character was raised and where she currently calls home.
Grace Notes (5 stars)-Once again we have a relative of VI that causes some trouble. I really did like this one since it gives us more background on VI's mother Gabriella. And I think that VI finally sees that her mother was not all that she thought she was with regards to her marriage to VI's father. I did like the overall mystery in this one though I have to say that I am surprised that VI was conned as well as she was since she goes to a default don't trust anyone position most times.
The Pietro Andromache (3 stars)-This one is told from the POV of Max Loewenthal who is Lotty's long time lover. I have to say that it really didn't go with the rest of the book since those stories are told from VI's POV. This story deals with Lotty being accused of murder when she accuses someone else of stealing a piece of sculpture from her family during the Holocaust. It definitely made me think of Max and Lotty differently. Also VI turns into Hercule Poirot in the end when she reveals all. That's not her character's style at all so it didn't work for me.
Strung Out (4 stars)-Back to VI's POV in this one. She is given a free ticket to see an up and coming tennis star that of course then leads to murder. VI is asked to figure out who killed the tennis star's father since the whole thing can lead to a cloud for the tournament. I did think that in the end that VI had the right of it with not holding back any evidence she found that lead to the murder. I often think that most of VI's high school and college friends that do that rah rah we are feminists so no woman anywhere can be in the wrong is crap.
At the Old Swimming Hole (5 stars)-This actually had a sad ending to it. An old friend of VI's gets caught up in something that VI does her best to untangle. I can see why this case ends up haunting her based on the ending. I wish that it could have been a bit longer though. This one and "Grace Notes" would have been great as longer stand alone books.
The Maltese Cat (2 stars)-Sorry I didn't like anyone in this short story and I actually called crap on VI for getting as overly involved as she did. I don't know what Paretsky's ultimate thought process was for this one. It just didn't work and the flow was pretty bad from beginning to end.
Settled Score (2 stars)-VI was acting like a brat in this one from beginning to end. A niece of Lotty's is charged with murder when her lover turns up dead. VI is reluctant to get involved though everyone asks her to investigate. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered and the true murderer is revealed. I just didn't think the ending actually resolved anything. And I really didn't get why VI was acting the way she did in this one. I felt like I was missing something here.
Skin Deep (3 stars)-This one includes VI's favorite bartender (who I adore) so that was enough to get me to raise this to 3 stars. The coincidence in this one was laughable though. As was the murder method. It was fairly short though.
Three-Dot Po (3 stars)-Once again this was a weird short story. I felt like I was missing some pieces in this one. I wish that I had gotten a better sense of the secondary characters in this one (friends of Vic and one that is eventually murdered). I liked the dog in this story more than any humans running around.
The Takamoku Joseki (3 stars)-Honestly this one was a bad story to end on. I would have flipped it around and made Grace Notes be the anchor story or even The Old Swimming Hole. This one was all over the place and not really believable to me.