These kinds of serial novels are always easier to get into if you've been a fan all along, but I have to say, I got into the story, pace, and rhythm of Fire Sale fairly early on. Maybe part of it is the main character, who is obviously so flawed, and doesn't mind revealing this to the reader. The more she annoys the world around her, the more I seemed to like her. I found a lot of her jaded, sardonic asides to be pretty amusing, as well as her no-holds-barred approach to her job...a fresh, tough perspective on femininity that we need more of in this world.
I find it interesting that Sarah Paretsky herself comes from such an erudite and academic background. It's a bit confounding why she would spend her literary career concentrating on a character who is so unlike her, and in a genre that doesn't always get much literary respect. Maybe she just seized upon a purpose in life...she simply wanted to create some kind of fresh and dissident voice in a largely male-dominated genre. She seems to have succeeded at it, in a way that is entertaining, real, and completely unpretentious. If that was, indeed, her goal, then quite frankly, it's still a level of success that is beyond most writers. Maybe there's a lesson in humility there for all of us.