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Vanishing Point Hardcover – Jul 10 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; 1 edition (July 10 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892968052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892968053
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,504,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 26 2006
Format: Hardcover
Long-time fans of the series will enjoy many elements of this book: Sharon and Hy finally marry; Sharon's birth mother and adopted mother meet one another; Sharon's agency expands with some new operatives; and Rae finds herself back doing some detection. In addition, there's a dark, detailed plot that builds from a very old, cold case.

One of the strengths of this story comes in Ms. Muller's deft handling of so many past characters and weaving them the on-going story line. It adds a rich texture to the book that builds depth. That texture is nicely developed also by Ms. Muller's strong ability to build a sense of place as almost another character in the story.

The cold case is quite complex and requires an extensive investigation using many resources. But it's not a classic mystery in that you'll be able to put three clues together in the beginning and figure out who did what to whom. Instead, you'll be able to figure out the next plot development in the procedural about 5-15 pages ahead of time.

The book's main drawback comes in its unappealing characters. Most readers like either sympathetic characters or disgusting villains. This book lacked both. The characters were either completely flat, highly superficial or just plain selfish. But there was nothing about them to attract our interest other than the role they played in the plot development.

Authors often have to choose between developing their plots and their characters. While we get lots of character development concerning the missing Laurel Greenwood, it's ultimately unrewarding. The plot's needs won, but it’s an unsatisfying victory.

The book's overall theme is about what it takes to make a good marriage. I thought that element was done well. I especially appreciated the nods to Bill Pronzini's nameless detective as part of that message.

But any long-time fan will enjoy the book. New fans should go back to the beginning of the series and delay this book.
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By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 16 2006
Format: Audio CD
During her third year at the University of Michigan Marcia Muller's creative writing prof said she would never be a writer because she had nothing to say. How wrong he was! To date she has penned 32 novels and several short story collections. Among her most popular (and plentiful tales) are those featuring detective Sharon McCone, and here's the 24th, sure to keep us glued to our CD players.

At long last Sharon has tied the knot with erstwhile suitor Hy Ripinsky (he, too, is an investigator). They haven't even unpacked after their honeymoon before Sharon is asked to look into the 22-year-old disappearance of an artist, Laural Greenwood. It seems she had gone off one day to paint an outdoor scene and never returned leaving a husband and two young daughters.

Now, of course, the girls are adults and daughter Jennifer wants to know what happened to her mother whom she describes as a model mom, devoted to her family. However, as Sharon begins to investigate she has reason to believe that Laural was not the woman Jennifer describes. In fact, she's beginning to believe that Laural might have been leading a double life and that her marriage was not all it might have been. This raises more questions, very personal ones in the mind of the newly wed Sharon.

Voice performer Susan Ericksen gives her usual sterling narration of this story of a marriage gone awry and a woman who mysteriously vanished.

- Gail Cooke
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Mayra Calvani - Armchair Interviews Dec 3 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Vanishing Point is the latest instalment in the Sharon McCone mystery series. This time, just as she agrees to marry her longtime love Ripinsky, McCone is asked to investigate the disappearance of Laurel Greenwood, a mother and artist who vanished from San Luis Obispo County two decades ago. Did the woman commit suicide? Was she murdered? Or worse yet--did she abandon her husband and two young daughters out of her own free will?

As McCone sets out to unravel one of the town's most mysterious, unsolved cases, a grim picture begins to emerge. Then things get more complicated when her client--Laurel Greenwood's daughter--also disappears. Is the story repeating itself all over again? Or is Greenwood's daughter searching for her own answers?

The Vanishing Point is a fine novel written by one of today's most popular mystery authors. Muller keeps an even suspense all the way to the end without too many overly commercial cliffhangers. The dialogue sparkles with authenticity. The best thing about the story, however, is how the author interweaves the mystery element with the psychological one. Sharon McCone is a very sympathetic private-eye--sharply intelligent and intrepid, yet with a soft spot for "kittens, puppies, children, [and] grieving widows." How can you not like a beautiful detective vulnerable enough to drool while sleeping in the back seat of a car during an investigation? Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good mystery with strong characterization.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Long-running series is still fresh July 19 2006
By Karen Potts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Marcia Muller began writing the Sharon McCone Mystery Series in 1977. Twenty-four books later, her heroine is still interesting and her plots and characters are more multi-layered and complex than ever. In this installment, McCone is called upon by a daughter to find her mother who disappeared over 20 years ago. Sharon's investigation is sandwiched between her marriage to Hy Ripinsky and a reception put on by her ever-dysfunctional family. Muller weaves these subplots nicely together with the mystery of the woman's disappearance in a book which should be pleasing to her many long-time fans.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Point Vanished Nov. 5 2006
By Barbara and Paul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have read every novel in the Sharon McCone series and have them all in my collection. When I found this book at Barnes and Noble and read the description I was giddy with anticipation. I wanted to read about the relationship between Sharon and Hy as man and wife. I was very disappointed.

The plot line is basic and good. A daughter wants to find her mother who disappeared over twenty years ago. Closure is all she wants although her sister would just as soon let it be. Thus begins the chase all around the northern California coast, ending in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Whew! So little time was spent in San Francisco that the office people who I have come to know and adore, were virtually non-existent. Most of the conversation is stilted and the majority is done over the telephone. The cell phone being turned off is a recurring distraction. Is this supposed to have an allegorical meaning? I don't know.

Sharon's adopted mother and biological mother rate a paragraph or two in the novel. Hy appears once or twice and I highly doubt that a newly married man would allow his wife to be so distant from him. Irregardless of their "evolved" relationship, I think it was cold on Sharon's part to proceed on her own when she has such available talent at the home office, just waiting for such an assignment.

My main complaint about this novel is there are two many one-dimensional characters. I got so confused as to who was who and how they were relevant to the story. I never got to "know" them and motivations were sometimes so closeted I was in the dark. There was a very good potential plot in the Mark Aldin/Ricky relationship and yet it was briefly dealt with in sentences. His death was related by phone call. (again, the phone)

Hence the title of my review, the point vanished. I was bored reading the book and just was not interested nor did I particularly care what happened to Laurel Greenwood. I don't think she was intelligent enough to do what she did and I do not think she was an artist. I will read the next book in the series and if it presents the same types of problems for me, I will probably give up reading them as I gave up on VI Warshawski years ago. When you don't like the main character, no point in reading the novel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Unraveling a Tangled Skein of Deception Sept. 26 2006
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Long-time fans of the series will enjoy many elements of this book: Sharon and Hy finally marry; Sharon's birth mother and adopted mother meet one another; Sharon's agency expands with some new operatives; and Rae finds herself back doing some detection. In addition, there's a dark, detailed plot that builds from a very old, cold case.

One of the strengths of this story comes in Ms. Muller's deft handling of so many past characters and weaving them the on-going story line. It adds a rich texture to the book that builds depth. That texture is nicely developed also by Ms. Muller's strong ability to build a sense of place as almost another character in the story.

The cold case is quite complex and requires an extensive investigation using many resources. But it's not a classic mystery in that you'll be able to put three clues together in the beginning and figure out who did what to whom. Instead, you'll be able to figure out the next plot development in the procedural about 5-15 pages ahead of time.

The book's main drawback comes in its unappealing characters. Most readers like either sympathetic characters or disgusting villains. This book lacked both. The characters were either completely flat, highly superficial or just plain selfish. But there was nothing about them to attract our interest other than the role they played in the plot development.

Authors often have to choose between developing their plots and their characters. While we get lots of character development concerning the missing Laurel Greenwood, it's ultimately unrewarding. The plot's needs won, but it's an unsatisfying victory.

The book's overall theme is about what it takes to make a good marriage. I thought that element was done well. I especially appreciated the nods to Bill Pronzini's nameless detective as part of that message.

But any long-time fan will enjoy the book. New fans should go back to the beginning of the series and delay this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Another superb mystery from Muller July 17 2006
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Private Investigator Sharon McCone has just returned from Carson City, Nevada, after surprising herself and her large circle of family and friends by eloping with longtime significant other, the dashing Hy Ripinski. They attend a hastily arranged reception and the champagne is still bubbly when Hy is called away on business and Sharon is cornered by her friend Rae to dig up a cold case for a friend.

Sharon's PI business is booming. She has come a long way from the Lost Souls agency in the 1970s. She has expanded her investigative staff to handle all the new business piling up, even during her brief escape to Nevada. Digging into the 22-year-old sudden disappearance of Laurel Greenwood --- wife and mother of two small daughters --- is not at the top of her priority list.

She agrees to interview the now-grown daughter and is given a large retainer and reluctantly consents to talk to authorities and other family members. It is quickly apparent that things don't quite add up. As the case unfolds, the daughter vanishes as suddenly and mysteriously as her mother. Members of Sharon's extended family find themselves entwined in the mystery that begins to point away from suicide or murder to something more sinister. Meanwhile, Sharon and Hy's unconventional marriage, off to anything but an idyllic start, seems downright stable and normal compared to the fractured relationships among the family members of the missing woman.

The complex emotional relationships that surface are skillfully woven into the plot, which twists and turns like the scenic wine country roads along the Northern California coastal region Sharon travels as she embarks on the search.

Laurel Greenwood may be one of Marcia Muller's more complicated and interesting characters, and she treats the complexities of Laurel's troubled past with page-turning intrigue. McCone fans can look forward to Muller's increasingly polished style of storytelling, and they will be treated to a travelogue of some of America's most beautiful country.

--- Reviewed by Roz Shea


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