Review

City of Whispers: A Sharon McCone Mystery

by Marcia Muller

“Secrets, I thought. Most said money was the root of all evil, but in my experience it was secrets --- many of them not involving cold, hard cash,” thought Sharon McCone.

The theme and plot of CITY OF WHISPERS revolve around secrets. Secrets from the past as well as the present. Secrets that usually involve hurtful behaviors. Secrets that won't let people rest. And, as Sharon delves into the task of finding her half-brother, Darcy Blackhawk, she begins to reveal long-hidden secrets that make some very dangerous people extremely nervous.

"There is never a dull moment during one of [Sharon McCone's] cases."
 
Sharon McCone is one of the most interesting fictional private detectives in the genre today. From her longtime relationship with Hy Ripinsky, the love of her life, to her surprising reconnection with her Native American family, there is never a dull moment during one of her cases. Even when she was suffering from locked-in syndrome that resulted from being shot in the head, the fact that she could see and hear everything that was going on but was unable to move or speak made for an exciting story. And, just in case you haven't read any of her previous novels, Marcia Muller deftly fills you in on all the family dynamics early in the book.
 
CITY OF WHISPERS begins with Sharon receiving an email from Darcy. For years, he has been the problem child of Sharon's birth mother Saskia, a famous attorney for Native American causes. And now he has become Sharon's problem. The email says, “Help me. I'm in SF.” Although Sharon answers right away, there is no reply from Darcy. She assumes that he needs money and will get back to her. Yet she begins the daunting task of tracking him down, first through the Internet cafe where he wrote the note and then through following leads garnered from people in the area. The fact that Darcy is now sporting a head of bizarre green hair makes it a bit easier for people to remember him. She assigns her techie nephew, Mick Savage, to begin the search.
 
Unfortunately, Darcy proves to be elusive, and the fact that he has psychological problems as well as a serious drug addiction makes following the leads more difficult. When Sharon joins the search, she doesn't find Darcy but does discover a dead woman among the homeless who gather near a popular park. By learning her identity and piecing together more and more clues, the investigation leads to many secrets from her past that eventually brings it closer to finding Darcy.
 
Muller uses an interesting technique to differentiate her chapters. Each one bears the name of the person who is most prominent in that chapter. When it's Sharon's turn, she becomes the first person narrator. The chapters that involve Darcy reveal the confusion and fear swirling around in the young man's head. Fragmented thoughts from the past intertwine with current fears, and nothing makes sense. He is helpless and pitiful, but the reader is not sure why until the facts begin to be revealed. When the secrets come to light, unexpected truths are discovered. The final chapters are full of action and will keep you guessing until the end.
 

Reviewed by Maggie Harding on October 27, 2011

City of Whispers: A Sharon McCone Mystery
by Marcia Muller

  • Publication Date: October 26, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446573337
  • ISBN-13: 9780446573337