brushback300The group had a rather odd reaction to this book – while we mostly enjoyed it, we sure had a lot to complain about.  We found V.I. to be a mostly strong, smart, and likeable character, but she sure got into some bad situations.  We’re not sure how she supports herself because she doesn’t really have any paying clients and she doesn’t seem all that good at what she does.  She’s a bit incongruous with her odd interests and living situation, and she’s a bit of a bulldog.  And not in a good way.

We liked the flavor of Chicago and there was a general agreement that the gritty city was portrayed true to life.

The mystery was interesting enough, though a little confusing.  But we learned that the confusing city politics and neighborhood loyalties were also true to life.

Joan didn’t understand the chapter titles and we generally agreed that there was a lot of unnecessary description which only bogged down the story.

The characters were what kept us engaged and boy, were there a lot of characters!

Favorite – Mr. Contreras; V.I.; Jake was just decoration.  Mr. Villard, the Cubs guy; Bernie, even if she was just a fuse.

Least – Bernie was declared to be useless.  Stella, Anne, Rory, Frank, Father Cardinale.  The cop was awful and unnecessarily snarky.  And then he left V.I. in a terrible neighborhood.  Stella Guzzo was wonderfully awfully awful.  As was Betty Guzzo.  They’re like peas in a pod.  Viola, the girl with the missing brother.  What a whiny little thing.  We wanted to smack her, knowing she wouldn’t smack back.