The economy of a North Coastal California village is threatened
when a water company targets the Perdido River as a prime source
for an innovative and experimental water transfer system. The
community is struggling to recover from the closing of a sawmill by
targeting the eco-tourism industry. A North Carolina water company
cuts a deal with the local owner of the defunct sawmill to use his
property to launch a project to suck water from the Perdido River
into huge bags, then float them down the coast to thirsty San
Diego. There will be no compensation to Cape Perdido, title town of
the book. The project would threaten the scenic river, change the
ecology of the area, and quite literally dry up the fledgling river
rafting and sport fishing industry in the region.
New York environmental attorney Fitch Collier, community relations
specialist Jessie Domingo, and investigator Eldon Whitesides have
been dispatched by a national environmental law firm to assist a
local group, Friends of the Perdido, in an attempt to halt the
Joseph Openshaw was raised on the small Pomo Indian reservation
outside Cape Perdido and has returned after college to work in his
hometown. Steph Pace, a high school chum of Joseph's, owns a local
restaurant and both are active in the Friends of the Perdido. As
the New Yorkers work with the locals to pull the community together
to save the river, old small town feuds simmer and the group starts
digging for reasons why the retired sawmill owner would sell out
his own town. When one of the New Yorkers mysteriously disappears
after long concealed evidence surfaces in a tragedy Joseph and
Steph were involved in twenty years earlier, Steph's business is
threatened and her life is in jeopardy.
Marcia Muller evokes a strong sense of place in Cape Perdido with
the foggy evenings, the tall, silent forests, and the roaring
lumber trucks rumbling down the single busy highway through the
heart of town next to the ramshackle businesses in the dying town.
The decaying sawmill hides more than ghosts from the past for the
locals and the outsiders.
CAPE PERDIDO is a stand-alone book, a departure from Muller's
Sharon McCone series, but fans will recognize the tight and
suspenseful plotting that has netted her many mystery-writing
awards over a long and successful career.
For outdoor enthusiasts and mystery lovers alike, CAPE PERDIDO
offers a chilling summer mystery leading to a fast-paced and
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 7, 2011