"The thing about Sara Paretsky is, she's tough--not because she observes the bone-breaker conventions of the private-eye genre but because she doesn't flinch from examining old social injustices others might find too shameful (and too painful) to dig up." --The New York Times Book Review
"Doctors take days off--why not PIs?" V.I. Warshawski demands. But when America's hardest-working private eye goes clubbing, a stranger is shot and dies in her arms.
V.I. has been visiting Club Gouge, Chicago's edgiest nightspot, where a woman known as the Body Artist turns her naked body into a canvas for the audience to paint on.
The show attracts all kinds of people, from a menacing off-duty cop to Ukrainian mobsters and Iraq war vets--and V.I.'s impetuous cousin, Petra. A tormented young painter shows up, too, and the intricate designs she creates on the Body Artist drive one of the vets into a violent rage.
When the painter is shot, the cops figure it's an easy collar--PTSD vet goes off the rails, stalks then kills young woman. But the vet's family hires V.I. to clear his name, and the detective uncovers a chain of ugly truths that stretches all the way from Iraq to Chicago's South Side.