on August 4, 2002
In 1956 Lis Benedict, a wealthy socialite, was convicted of murdering her husband's young mistress, Cordy McKittridge. Thirty-six years later, she is released from prison and goes to live with her daughter Judy, who testified against her at the trial. The daughter feels that her mother may not have been the murderer after all, so she requests a re-trial in the Historical Tribunal, a group which tries to redress old wrongs. Private Investigator Sharon McCone is asked to help with the case for the defendant, which is being prepared by the All Souls' Legal Cooperative, where Sharon works. Fearing that the trail is too cold to follow, Sharon interviews anyone who had any connection to the deceased or the supposed murderer. Tales of love and politics rise to the surface and Sharon begins to piece together a theory as to the real murderer's identity. This book is very suspenseful and had me guessing the murderer's identity up to the end. As usual, there is a complex plot and Muller does a masterful job of tying up all of the loose ends.
on August 29, 2000
This is the 13th "Sharon McCone mystery" I've read, so it goes without saying that I basically find these stories entertaining. This one has an involved plot about the bloody 1956 murder of a society girl. Lis Benedict has just been released from prison after serving 36 years for the crime and her daughter, Judy, has convinced Jack Stuart to take the case before the Historical Tribunal. Some anonymous threats suggest that somebody doesn't want the case re-opened.
The story kept me turning pages to find out what would happen next, so it was a good read. There are, however, a few downsides to this one. Ms. Muller spends a lot of space trying to give it a dark, mystical mood. What with all the foggy settings, mysterious shapes, foghorns in the night, and dark forebodings of PI McCone, the rather unsurprising ending is something of a letdown. Also, Ms. Muller is a traditional San Francisco liberal, which is her privilege, but she increasingly wears hers personal attitudes on her sleeve. The story would have benefitted from having forty or fifty pages of murky scenery and Ms. Mullers' soapbox preaching edited out. As it is, the story rambles here and there.
That said, it was still good enough to keep my curiosity up all the way through. Good enough for four stars in my estimation.