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MWA Grand Master Muller's richly layered 24th mystery to feature San Francisco PI Sharon McCone (after 2004's The Dangerous Hour) reminds us how much McCone has grown since she started as the lone investigator at a poverty law center in her first outing, Edwin of the Iron Shoes (1977). McCone now heads a well-respected agency with a talented staff and a strong track record. She maintains solid friendships with former colleagues, works hard to keep up with her large and complicated family, and recently surprised herself by agreeing to marry her longtime sweetheart, corporate security whiz Hy Ripinsky. Muller nicely plays the joy of McCone's new marriage against two others at the center of the present case, slowly revealing their rotten core. The story takes readers on a charming tour through the fishing villages of the California coast, while the tight, crisp plot surges relentlessly forward. The tension between light and dark, between surface happiness and hidden truths, raises this novel well above the common run of whodunits. (July)
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Returning from her honeymoon to a huge celebration, Sharon McCone, now head of her own detective agency, can't help but marvel at how different her life is from her days at the All Souls Legal Cooperative. But when it comes to mystery, there's still plenty to occupy her time. When she's approached to investigate a 22-year-old disappearance, Sharon sets her team to the task, and before long, they've picked up clues that suggest the woman in question wasn't exactly the devoted mother and wife her daughter remembers. As usual in Muller's mysteries, dialogue-driven narrative makes the story a quick read, and this time there's some underlying commentary about marriage, which dovetails nicely with Sharon's continuing anxieties about her future with new husband Hy. Suggest Margaret Maron's books to readers who like Muller. The settings may be different, but the interpersonal dynamics feel the same. Stephanie Zvirin
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