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Cyanide Wells: A Novel [Hardcover]

Marcia Muller
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 16 2003 Muller, Marcia
When Matthew Lindstrom's wifeGwen disappeared, his comfortable life was destroyed by suspicion and innuendo. But 14 years later, Matthew receives an anonymous phone call saying Gwen is alive-and well aware of what her disappearance has done to him. Now, Matthew is on his way to Soledad County in Northern California in search of vindication. Once he arrives, he is shocked to discover Gwen has a new name, Ardis Coleman, and is living with her lesbian lover, Carly, and their daughter,Natalie. Deciding to confront his ex-wife, Matt shows up at her home only to find a bloodstained hallway-and no sign of Ardis or Natalie. Together Carly and Matt form an unlikely alliance in their search for the missing pair. But as they dig into Ardis' life, they discover a twisted plan-one that leads to a final confrontation that may prove fatal to all of them.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Anthony-winner Muller delivers another stand-alone (after 2001's Point Deception) set in northern California's fictional Soledad County that fails to measure up to her bestselling Sharon McCone series (Dead Midnight, etc.). After being unjustly suspected of murdering his missing ex-wife, Gwen, Matthew Lindstrom moved from Minnesota, where he taught college photography, to British Columbia, where he operates an excursion boat. When 14 years later an anonymous phone caller tells him Gwen is living in Cyanide Wells, Calif., as Ardis Coleman, Matt goes there to find her and clear his name. Hired by the local newspaper, which has won a Pulitzer for a series on the murder of a gay couple penned by the erratic Ardis, Matt discovers that his ex-wife is in a lesbian relationship with hot-headed newspaper editor Carly McGuire, with whom she shares a mixed-race daughter. When Ardis and the child vanish, Matt and Carly join forces to track them down. While Muller vividly paints the rugged northern California coast with its decaying towns and abandoned logging and mining areas now giving way to retirement communities, she leaves out her usual complicated characters and plot twists. Matt too easily gets the newspaper job, elicits confidences and uncovers secrets. The villains are pretty obvious, as is the secret behind the gay murders. Muller fans may prefer to wait for another McCone novel.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

A stand-alone story from the author of the Sharon McCone series. Matt Lindstrom leaves the life he has rebuilt in British Columbia to search for his ex-wife, Gwen. After she vanished from their California home, innuendo that he had murdered her ruined him, forcing his relocation. He discovers that she's in a Soledad County town called Cyanide Wells, living with a lesbian lover and an adopted child. When he goes there--For revenge? for solace?--he discovers she has taken off again, this time with the child. He and Carly McGuire, publisher of the county newspaper and Gwen's partner, perform an uneasy dance as they try to bring her back. Gwen has written a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the local murder of a gay couple, and in tracing the clues from it, from a passel of local secrets, and from Gwen's complicated emotional life, Matt and Carly uncover the depths of Gwen's duplicity to both of them. The relationship between these two prickly characters, male and female, straight and gay, is the most intriguing aspect of this somewhat overplotted but entertaining whodunit. There's also a genuinely cool use of the Web site, Librarians Index to the Internet ( GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars The Case of the Missing....something Nov. 16 2003
Muller has long been acknowledged as the mother the female hardboiled private eye subgenre, and when one has created and nutured as character as fleshed out and "alive" as Sharon McCone, it is disappointing when a stand alone book contains characters as unfleshed out, and even cartoonish as the people who populate "Cyanide Wells." She has created two potentially likeable characters in Matt and Carly, who team up to find what is up with the woman who both has considerable cost. When the truth about the missing woman is revealed, the reader is left with the feeling that the fatal flaw in each of the protagonists is they are truly lousy judges of character.
Muller returns to the North Coast of California, the fictional Soledad County, which in "Point Deception" stood in for the mismatched twins, Mendicino and Fort Bragg. She has captured a lot of the local color of those very different towns, yet even so, never conveys the outsider-local culture clash which has been a part of the area since I began to regularly visit there, which is for about thirty years. Still, it is clear that Muller knows the area very well, and that's fine....
However, the story just isn't a story. It is an outline, a few character sketches, and a concept, about as developed as the book the missing woman is supposedly writing. Also, from the various descriptions of gay culture in the area, I get the feeling this book was started 10 or so years ago, and was shelved and just changing the dates.
Admittedly, my opinion of this book has been colored by the awesomely horrible reading of this book, as released by Brilliance Audio....
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3.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Authors Are Slipping: Cyanide Wells Nov. 6 2003
Instead of a Sharon McCone mystery, Marcia Muller has crafted a very different kind of mystery than normal. The result ultimately works in that it keeps the reader tuning the page but this reader certainly missed Sharon.
Fourteen years ago, days before they were to be divorced, Gwen Lindstrom vanished. As happens in most cases where disappearance and/or foul play is suspected, suspicion quickly fell on the unlucky spouse. In this case, it was Mathew Lindstrom that became an object of law enforcement and media interest. The fact that he initially lied to police about his whereabouts didn't help. That mistake brought increased police scrutiny in his small town and eventually national media interest. The resulting investigations and media presence destroyed his life, as he knew it.
Eventually, several years later, he wound up in Vancouver, British Columbia running a small charter boat business. That is until he got an anonymous call telling him that his wife is alive and happy while living well in Cyanide Wells, California. Before hanging up, his caller assures him that she knew full well what she was doing when she vanished leaving him to be investigated for her murder and enjoyed it.
Matt packs up everything and hits the road to Cyanide Wells. He has to see her for himself and he wants a confrontation with her as well as photographic evidence of her existence so that he can clear his name. While he gets a few pictures, before he can do much more, she flees from the area and takes her young daughter with her. Her lover, Carly McGuire is just as devastated as Matt was years ago. The two unite to find Gwen, her child, and the answers to several mysteries regarding Gwen as well as trying to figure out what is the cause of several seemingly unrelated strange events in the small town.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets and Lies Oct. 21 2003
Fourteen years ago, Matt Lindstrom's wife, Gwen, disappeared without a trace. As a result of the umbrella of suspicion that descended upon him from both police and the public at large, Matt relocated to Brisish Columbia and started a new life.
And then one day he received an anonymous call informing him that Gwen was very much alive and living in a town called Cyanide Wells, California.
Matt is, of course, compelled to travel to Cyanide Wells to see for himself. No sooner, however, than he discovers her new identity as Ardis Coleman, Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper reporter with a young daughter and a lesbian lover, she disappears again under ominous circumstances. Matt, afraid of becoming a suspect again, forms an unlikely alliance with Carly McGuire, newspaper publisher and Gwen/Ardis's lover, and together they launch a search for the missing mother and child. Their quest uncovers a masterful web of secrets, lies, and deceit perpetrated by Ardis, not the least of which is her connection to the sensational unsolved murder in Cyanide Wells whose coverage won her paper the Pulitzer.
This is a delightfully layered and intricately plotted novel of suspense and I wasn't real sure where the author was headed 'til we got there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars RIVETING SUSPENSE Sept. 13 2003
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Opening with a map of Soledad County, and a terse, shocking phone call deft mystery writer Marcia Muller hooks readers and then speedily reels them in for an intriguing journey to unlock the past. With more than 30 novels to her credit and the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award pocketed, she's a skillful weaver of tales shrouded in mystery and suspense.
Apparently a believer in fast starts Ms. Muller begins her story in Minnesota with a ringing telephone. When Matt Lindstrom answers a voice identifies himself as a Wyoming law officer and asks whether Matt is married to Gwen Lindstrom. Once Matt says that he is, there is this startling message: "Her car was found in my jurisdiction.....Nothing wrong with the vehicle, but there were bloodstains on the dash and other signs consistent with a struggle. A purse containing her identification and credit cards was on the passenger's seat."
A body is never found but Matt is branded as a murderer, and his professional career is soon in ruins. Fast forward to 14 years later, and another phone call. This time an anonymous caller tells Matt that his wife is quite alive, and "very cognizant of what she put you through when she disappeared." Further, the voice said she's living in Cyanide Wells under the name of Ardis Coleman.
Disbelieving but desperately wanting answers Matt heads for the West Coast.
California is a lush state that can be both breathtakingly beautiful and threatening. The same might be said of the Golden State's Soledad County, especially Cyanide Wells. Today that community is home for those with a penchant for the avant garde. In yesteryear it was a gold mining town whose residents found that their water supply had been laced with cyanide.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Character-driven mystery
Character-based. Does that make it 'literature,' by definition? Perhaps. Marcia Muller is one or our more artistic and literate mystery writers, and this is a good one. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Peggy Vincent
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best
I have read many of Marcia Muller's books and this one was not her best. It starts out very slow and I almost stopped reading it and put it away for another time but I desided to... Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Love Sharon McCone, Hated This Book
This book was really weak. The concept of the plot sounded good at the start --- lost woman reappears after 14 years, why did she run, what ghosts haunted her -- but the book never... Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2003 by Miss Terry Reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I read a different book
because I thought this book was weak and not up to Marcia Mullers normal standard of writing. The character development was extremely poor, we never really know what motivated the... Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2003 by chattyc69
3.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Booster Shot
Quick and painless. This is a reasonably twisty departure from Muller's Sharon McCone series, easy to take, atmospheric and "real. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Page-Turning
In a departure from her Sharon McCone series, Marcia Muller takes us on a journey into fictional Soledad Country. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2003 by SDRTX
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Mystery With Well-Developed Characters
Award winning author Muller takes readers on a journey filled with deception, secrets, and murder. Matt Lindstrom is owner and operator of an excursion boat in Port Regis, B.C. Read more
Published on July 26 2003 by Sheri Melnick
4.0 out of 5 stars A Revelation of Betrayal
Fourteen years before, photographer Matthew Lindstrom was accused of killing his wife, Gwen. The body was never been found.
Matt stood accused, but never convicted. Read more
Published on July 25 2003 by FictionAddiction.NET
Pairing performers Sandra Burr and J. Charles proves to be a champion idea as their combined reading gives a depth and richness to this audio of Marcia Muller's compelling... Read more
Published on July 24 2003 by Gail Cooke
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