Sharon McCone (A Walk Through the Fire
, McCone & Friends
, Both Ends of the Night
, etc.) is used to solving problems. She's been doing it for over 20 years in Marcia Muller's pioneering and acclaimed series about the San Francisco PI. And thanks to her extended and occasionally dysfunctional family, she's no stranger to the consequences of revealing the occasional skeleton in the closet. But her latest case is both personal and deeply devastating. After her father dies, Sharon discovers documents that have been hidden for her entire life and they launch her on a voyage of self-discovery. Intent on exploring her own past, Sharon travels from a Shoshone Indian reservation in Montana to a ghost town in northern California, and she becomes involved in a larger story of deceit--and murder.
Writing a series means treading delicately on a high wire between repetition and revelation. Having once created a character who will voyage through two or 10 or 10,000 books, an author must decide what facets of the character's life will reappear as touchstones in each book, what items may be left by the wayside, how the past will inform the present, and how the present will indicate the future. With each new novel, the author reaches out to readers who may be comfortably familiar with the series and to readers who may be discovering it for the first time. There is no shortage of mystery writers whose series are immensely rewarding (think Sara Paretsky or Sue Grafton), but it's a difficult balancing act nonetheless. With Listen to the Silence, Marcia Muller seems to stumble slightly, just enough to leave readers wondering whether a safety net is in order. It's as if the burden of the past becomes too heavy for either character or author to support. Sharon seems a trifle flat, and Muller's integration of family and familiarity seems forced and abrupt. A first-time reader would do well to seek out earlier volumes in the series, but confirmed Muller fans will still relish the intensity with which the novel plunges into deeply unsettling territory. --Kelly Flynn
From Publishers Weekly
Boucher Award-winner Muller is back on form (after last year's somewhat disappointing and atypical A Walk Through Fire) in this latest entry in her deservedly popular series featuring PI Sharon McCone. In a personal twist, McCone has to crack one of her toughest cases yet: the mystery of her own life. Her father's death brings McCone not only sadness but the shocking revelation that she was adopted. The search for her birth parents takes her to a Shoshone reservation in Idaho, where an old man named Elwood Farmer offers cryptic advice. Armed with an old photograph in a buffalo-bone frame, McCone tracks down Saskia Blackhawk, the woman she believes to be her birth mother, only to see her put into a coma by a hit-and-run. Saskia, a lawyer, had been battling with Austin DeCarlo, a developer, over Spirit Lake, an area Modoc Indians consider sacred, but DeCarlo considers ripe for a resort. DeCarlo may be McCone's biological father, which would mean that her father may be trying to kill her mother. Meanwhile, professional troublemaker Jimmy D. Bearpaw seems happy to play on either side of the fence as long as he can make life hard for everybody. McCone must sort out the current legal tangles and ask some tough questions if she's to discover what really happened 40 years agoAand facing some important family truths may be harder than confronting a killer. Although Muller gives a long-ago murder curiously short shrift, she delivers an emotion-packed tale that adds new depth to her heroine. Mystery Guild main selection. (July)
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