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Cape Perdido [Mass Market Paperback]

Marcia Muller


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Book Description

July 1 2006
- Muller's McCone series has consistently received strong reviews from national publications, including the "New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, and USA TODAY, among others. "Dead Midnight was published by Warner in 7/03 and hit the "Los Angeles Times bestseller list, grossing over 76,000 copies.- Marcia Muller is the recipient of the Private live Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award. All the Sharon McCone novels and Muller's two previous stand-alones were Main Selections of The Mystery Guild.- "Wolf in the Shadows (Warner, 2001) was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Boucher Award.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (July 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446614998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446614993
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 10.6 x 16.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,026,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

MWA Grand Master Muller delivers a relatively routine stand-alone, a murder mystery with an environmental veneer, which falls short of the quality of her acclaimed Sharon McCone series (The Dangerous Hour, etc.). When a greedy North Carolina corporation seeks to harvest water from a quiet California lumber town—the Cape Perdido of the title—Jessie Domingo, a public and community relations consultant, and Fitch Collier, an arrogant and difficult attorney who specializes in water rights, team up to help the community fight the interloper. The conflict between the townspeople and the company rapidly escalates after a sniper takes a shot at one of the huge bags to be used to transport the water. The lingering shadow from a decades-old unsolved murder connected to many of the local players in the dispute complicates Domingo's work and leads to even more violence. Less than compelling characters and a pat ending mark this as an uncharacteristic lapse for Muller, who hopefully will return to form with her next book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Like Cyanide Wells (2003), this stand-alone mystery from the creator of the popular Sharon McCone series draws much of its appeal from its rustic, beautiful Northern California setting. A small tourist community, dependent on fishing and boating, is under siege. A -water-exporting company has petitioned the state for rights to literally bag the water from the Perdido River and haul it to drought-plagued communities in the southern part of the state. Tempers are hot, and seasoned environmentalists have stepped in to help the locals fight the commercial interlopers. Suddenly events spin out of control, and two activists disappear. Using the alternating perspective of four characters, Muller teases out the relationship between the present-day struggle and a terrible secret from the past. There is little here in terms of tone, style, and atmosphere that will seem new to Muller's regular readers, but the carefully measured plot revelations, which gradually expose the ways in which past and present are entwined, prove more than enough to keep both longtime fans and newcomers spellbound to the finish. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's just me, but this wasn't a pageturner Oct. 3 2005
By M. C. Crammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I liked this book less than others I've read by Marcia Muller, which have been in the Sharyn McCone series. I suspect that the missing McCone accounts for some of this dissatisfaction. There's really no single person who is the detective in this book -- rather, the story focuses on a half-dozen people in short chapters, which have the name of the character at the top of each chapter.

I never really engaged with anyone in the book, either positively or negatively, but the plotting and writing were fairly good.

The story involves a conflict in Northern California over water rights to a river. A megacorporation is trying to get permission to pump the river water into a very large bag and tow the bag to southern California, which needs water. The locals think syphoning off the water will ruin the environment, not to mention the tourist trade on which their economy depends. I kept waiting for someone to get killed, chapter after chapter, so I'd get to the usual murder mystery, but it's not that kind of book (although there is a murder in it).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Town Threatened by an Old Secret and a Water Grab Aug. 1 2005
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Cape Perdido is an interesting variation on a familiar mystery theme -- the lone detective against the town and its secrets. In Cape Perdido, a small town's residents find their livelihoods at risk when an out-of-state firm bids to drain the Perdido River and ship the water off to Southern California in large water bags. What little money comes into the town is from tourists . . . who are drawn by the river and the nearby shore.

It's the 11th hour and New York consultants have been brought in to organize a defense by building on the local resistance efforts. But the consultants don't seem to be on the same page. The local resisters are also in conflict with one another. What they have in common is a disregard for Timothy McNear who is facilitating the water grab . . . after having shut down the town's mill just a few years earlier. But McNear and several of the resisters seem to have a hidden mystery in common. What are they hiding?

As the story evolves, you will find yourself puzzled by what's going on and why . . . but not any more puzzled than any of several of the characters are. Ms. Muller provides a variety of narrators and points of view to show just how confusing the situation really is. She holds the key back until right before the end . . . in a telltale clue that suddenly ties all the ribbons together.

For me, the book worked quite well as a story and as a mystery. My main complaint against the book was that I didn't find myself feeling very sympathetic to any of the characters until near the end. Without that sympathetic connection, the plot details remained details . . . rather than a compelling story that required resolution for the "good" guys and gals.

You would think that a story about a corporation wanting to steal water rights would create automatic sympathy towards those who would lose benefits from having the water. It probably says more about how unsympathetic these characters are to say that such opposition didn't automatically make the potential "victims" attractive.

I am a fan of the Sharon McCone novels but find that Ms. Muller has painted herself into a story line that involves too many characters to be easy to enjoy. I'm sure she relishes operating with more freedom, and I think she used that unaccustomed freedom well in Cape Perdido. If she had created some more sympathetic characters, I would have delighted in the book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mueller's not-so-good is still pretty good!! Aug. 27 2005
By schnauzerlady - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As always, the environmental plot is of immediate concern and well researched - the technical points of the actual narrative get a bit tiresome though, with the abrupt, shifting points of view making it difficult to feel very sympathetic about the many characters we're introduced to. Not one of Ms. Mueller's best by any means, but a quick, enjoyable read and still better than your average off-the-rack fiction - the ending is a neat twist that makes the book satisfying.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Shall Set You Free Sept. 28 2006
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is one of Muller's few non-Sharon McCone mysteries, & it's very different from that series. While told chronologically, within each day are sub-chapters focusing on individual characters. Each time that character is revisited, the reader learns more about that character & others as well. There are several mysteries woven into the plot but the two main ones are the external--fight between local & NY "environmentalists" & a corporation wishing to export Perdido River water to LA--and internal--an unsolved old murder involving many of the main characters. Avoiding the pitfalls of a binary or black & white mentality, Muller skillfully rounds virtually all of her characters by revealing their shadow sides. Thus, this novel is more appealing to a mature reader especially one interested in reality & human psychology. Still, there is considerable action in it & the mystery (though difficult to unravel) is fairly presented. The environmental story shows the dark side of so-called environmentalists who would stop at almost nothing to win (both locals & New Yorkers) with the less-that-perfect heroine still a foil to them. There's a lot of role reversal too--some white hats turn dark while some black hats get lighter. The corporate coalition (including the man providing the right-of-way fares the same. Assumptions are, after all, the stock-in-trade of the mystery writer. True, the story starts out slowly, but it builds up speed--I couldn't put it down at the end. The denoument was a bit disappointing--even though I did (finally) figure out who the killer must be, but overall the book was an innovative, even remarkable achievement. If you are looking for a standard mystery, this may not be the book for you. But, if you are into characterizations, realistic depictions of people (vs. stereotypes), this book may very well speak to you. If you have any secrets, this tale of a skeleton closet may strike a chord. It also has a message: keeping secrets may seem okay on the surface, but it's a loser in the long-term. The Truth can set you free.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eco murders July 10 2006
By Beverley Strong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Jessie Domingo is an ecologist who has been flown in from New York to a small town on the northern California coast, to help locals in their fight against a huge corporation who has claimed the right, under Californian law, to collect the town's water in massive rubber bags, which would be towed to more arid areas, for a huge profit. Old crimes, old vows of vengeance for real or imagined grievances, all come to the fore as greed battles with common sense. Old alliances break and old enemies join forces in this story of murder in a small community. Unfortunately, it just hasn't got the magic "it" factor which makes a book sing for me.

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