Monday, January 23, 2012

Family Matters

City of Whispers by Marcia Muller.

A review by Marlyn Beebe.

It's hard to believe that City of Whispers is Marcia Mullers 29th Sharon McCone novel. It seems like just yesterday I was reading the wonderfully entitled Edwin of the Iron Shoes, the first in the series, published in 1977.

Generally considered to be the first modern female private investigator, Sharon has (unlike some other long-running series characters) grown and changed with time. She has a successful marriage, a successful business, and an ever-growing family. Having learned that she was adopted as an infant, Sharon found her birth parents, both of whom are Native Americans.

In City of Whispers, Sharon receives an email from her half-brother Darcy from an internet cafe in San Francisco. Informed by her mother that Darcy, who has continuing drug and mental issues, has never been in SF before, Sharon mounts a search with the help of her nephew, tech-wizard Mick. The pursuit of Darcy becomes much more complicated than Sharon expects, involving some of the city's wealthiest families.

At the beginning of the series, the story was told in the first person, from Sharon's point of view. Here, Muller includes some chapters written from Mick's and Darcy's viewpoint (though not in the first person) allowing the reader to view the same incidents through several pairs of eyes, as well as to experience things that Sharon does not.

Of course, opinions are divided as to whether or not Sharon's gorwth has been positive or negative. Some readers complain that too much of the action now takes place inside Sharon's head, that too much of the action is external, that it's wonderful to see Sharon happy in a stable relationship, that her husband is a cloying character. She might as well be a real person.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing me an e-book to review.


  1. Even though I haven't read her series in a while—because of lack of time, not interest—I admire the author's ability to keep the series going and to let her character evolve naturally. Nice review.

  2. One of the things I love about Sharon McCone, via Marcia Muller, are the people who have been a part of her life for decades. Even when time has passed between reading one of the books in this series, it's like getting caught up with old friends.

    I'm thinking this would be a good time to check in with them all.


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