Sharon McCone, the successful owner of McCone Investigations, is at
the pinnacle of financial stability. She has remodeled a conference
room, complimented her staff on their most recent successes, and
promised to hire additional office help. But a frantic phone call
to her private office turns her world upside down. The police are
reading Miranda rights to one of McCone's operatives, Julia Rafael,
and haul the girl off to jail. She is accused of major credit card
Stunned, McCone refuses to believe that Julia has committed the
crime, despite her juvenile record. McCone's difficulties increase
when her business is implicated by a search of the premises. A
record of the ill-gotten merchandise is discovered in her firm's
storeroom. Civil litigation will destroy her reputation.
Julia languishes in jail over a weekend. McCone sets out to vilify
her employee and get to the heart of the matter. Political hopeful
Alex Aguilar has brought the charges against Julia. McCone sneaks
to the man's home address and interviews his neighbors. They speak
of a quite different personality than the one he projects publicly.
In addition, he has had a recent houseguest who elicits shudders
from other tenants. Another peculiar twist lies in the death of a
fund-raiser for Aguilar's Mission district business. When McCone
delves further into Julia's case files, she finds a connection to
criminal elements within the Mission district. Aguilar's name
remains near the surface of the facts she has unearthed.
Marcia Muller's THE DANGEROUS HOUR, the 23rd Sharon McCone mystery,
is tastefully written, with enough barely raw language to tempt,
but not cloud, the text. McCone is a classy lady, with an
outside-the-business love life to pursue. She has ignored her
lover's proposal of marriage, with a promise to think about it and
give him an answer soon. Business interferes with their romantic
consideration. Marriage plans rest on the back burner.
Two shootings (McCone's employees the targets), illegal gun
purchases, drug deals, and a dubious Hispanic man with the initials
R.D., revolve back to the accused girl's distant and recent past
history. McCone bulldogs the evidence, between curves and twists,
to her eventual solution. But will the information exonerate Rafael
and clear the clouds of suspicion surrounding her beloved firm?
Muller rounds out the intricate plot with a return to her heroine's
Wit abounds and characters become part of the reader's
consciousness. We really care about what McCone discovers, and we
get inside her emotional psyche throughout her quest for the truth.
She is a woman to admire but is common enough in both her strengths
and frailties to follow into the next Muller adventure.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 29, 2010