City of Whispers (A Sharon McCone Mystery)
“Ms. Muller’s plotting is masterful, with her sure-footed, economical storytelling—even with the changes of narrator from chapter to chapter—supporting the plot as it glides easily along. And that takes some great writing.”
Sharon McCone tires more easily than she would like. Recovering from locked-in syndrome—almost total paralysis with an alert, conscious mind—has been tough. But she can’t say no to family, and when an email from her ne’er-do-well half-brother Darcy Blackhawk pops up, she’s willing to help.
What’s he doing in San Francisco? Their mom says last she heard about him, he was living under a bridge not far from her in Boise.
It’s exciting to find a maiden author, someone you can watch develop. Nevertheless, it’s comforting to read a master. Marcia Muller published her first mystery featuring Sharon McCone in 1977 and is one of the founders of the hardboiled female private investigator genre. Ms. Muller ages Sharon vividly, from her early days as a staff investigator at the All Souls legal co-op to her current successful PI business on Pier 24. Now she has three homes and a husband and flies planes.
It’s also enjoyable to visit reoccurring themes—the foghorns of San Francisco Bay are as richly depicted as Mick Savage, the-computer-whiz-turned-operative. Rae Kelleher has a small role, sadly, more as Sharon’s sister-in-law, not as an operative of the agency.
Sharon and Mick follow the clues, which include an heiress who volunteered at a homeless shelter and Darcy’s erstwhile companions. Darcy may be too much of a will-o’-the-wisp character around which to base a novel—we get his plight; fewer chapters from his point of view might have been prudent.
But that’s a small matter. Ms. Muller’s plotting is masterful, with her sure-footed, economical storytelling—even with the changes of narrator from chapter to chapter—supporting the plot as it glides easily along. And that takes some great writing.