- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (1 Dec. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780446573337
- ISBN-13: 978-0446573337
- ASIN: 0446573337
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,325,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
City Of Whispers (Sharon McCone Mysteries) Hardcover – 1 Dec 2011
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"Top-notch mystery and more from one of the genre's Grand Masters." "Library Journal""
Here is Marcia Muller's stalwart heroine Sharon McCone facing unprecedented challenges in an explosive new novel.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
City of Whispers is another of Marcia Muller's explorations of unusual mental conditions. In this case, Sharon McCone's half brother, Darcy Blackhawk, is at the end of a long slide downhill into addiction and emotional meltdown. Near the bottom, he reaches out to Sharon with an e-mail message that draws her into a search for him. Unable to help himself very much, Darcy becomes a pawn in a bigger game that's slowly revealed through the novel. In the course of searching for Darcy, we gain added insights into Sharon's relationship with her family and Mick Savage's true motivations in life. In the background are untimely deaths, violence, and extreme danger. Sharon and Mick work together to unravel mysteries that seem to be connected to Darcy's plea.
The story has a nice subtext of how often we ignore those who need help because we just don't notice them . . . or don't notice they need help. In addition, it raises the nice moral question of how much we should do for other people, especially if we don't like them and find it unpleasant to be near them. It's unusual for detective fiction to raise such nice questions, and I upgraded the rating a bit for that.
The mystery and detection are stretched out a bit to allow time for more character development. As a result, the book feels a little padded and slow. That didn't bother me, but if you like very fast-paced, linear stories, this book could be annoying to you.
Those who will like this book best are people who enjoy learning more about Sharon and her family. The novel is rich in that dimension, and Marcia Muller does her usual masterful job of juggling a large number of characters without dropping any of them. If you are a long-time fan of the series, it would be a mistake to skip this book.
An example of the stupidity. At the finale a bomb explodes, nearly killing some of the good guys when they rescue a kidnapped victim. Neither the reader nor victim nor good heroes now of it beforehand, so no suspense has been build. Why did the villain build the bomb? No reason at all. Just so there could be a nice explosion in the end.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
My only quibble in the Coming Back review was with the amount of white space in the slim volume - a personal distaste over wasted paper and shorted readers. Well, I'm delighted to report that here there is [almost] no white space. If a chapter ends on a verso (left) page, the next chapter starts on the next recto. Cheers for Ms Mueller and press.
But - as I'm sure you have already concluded - nothing much good is coming in a review that speaks first of plateaus and then of consistent ink distribution.
Back in the 90s Muller saw McCone into a fascinating middle-age in four wonderfully rich novels - A Wild and Lonely Place, The Broken Promise Land, Both Ends of the Night, and While Other People Sleep. And then Muller promptly fell into the crevasse of the unlikely with Walk through Fire, the Hawaii book. She recovered immediately, but, while the subsequent books were always good, they were never quite as good as that quartet.
With Locked In, however, Muller scaled the proverbial fresh heights, offering us multiple points of view, allowing all of McCone's friends the chance to build their own narratives even as they worried about Sharon's fate. I liked the change so much that I was glad to see it continued in Coming Back, even though the strategy flirted with the superficial in so short a novel.
But with City of Whispers - as I abandon both circumlocution and metaphor to speak baldly - we have only less and less about less and less. The shifting narration requires a great deal of introducing, leaving precious little room for any sort of development of character, of plot, or of suspense.
I've always liked the way that Muller makes family of friends without neglecting more conventional family members - and the adoption surprise only made that richer on every level. But now she seems to have fallen yet again, this time into stereotype. Happy families, as Muller knows, are _not_ all alike, but she seems less sure about unhappy family members, trading the ne'er do well absent brother for the ne'er do well emailing half-brother. And the choppy chapters, meant, perhaps, to generate suspense, generate instead the suspicion that Muller has run out of material.
No, no, no!
I hope I'm wrong. This is a wonderful series and may yet take us all to that uncharted pinnacle - the exciting adventures of a woman who actually turns 60. (And yes, I'm lending Muller the third star against the next installment.)
Also, Sharon McCone has lost her map of San Francisco, although you would think that she would know the city pretty well by now. Fort Mason is not near California and Lyon as stated on page 23. I got completely lost trying to follow Sharon as she roamed about the city because her directions did not make sense.
I greatly hope that Ms Muller recovers quickly and returns to her former style of writing.
"City of Whispers" is the latest installment in the long-running Sharon McCone series. Sometimes an ongoing series like this one can get stale, but this book shows there are still interesting tales left to be told about Sharon's adventures. The story is told from alternating points of view: Sharon, Sharon's nephew Mick Savage, and Darcy. This keeps the story moving, builds suspense, and keeps the reader interested in what is going to happen next. I was intrigued about what was really going on with Darcy and the two murder cases.
Sharon's point of view of the investigation makes up the backbone of the book. Sharon is the main character, so it is always interesting to see the case through her eyes. Sharon is a complex character. She is independent, but is learning to deal with her new health-related limitations. She can be prickly, but is a caring person and continues with her search for Darcy, who she doesn't necessarily like, but keeps looking because he's family and it's the right thing to do.
Having a number of the chapters told form Mick's point of view works well. Mick is impulsive, smart, and likeable and adds some needed fun into the series. He and Sharon have a bit of a role-reversal in this book with Sharon doing some of the computer research and Mick investigating in the field. They seem to gain a new appreciation of what the other one contributes to the agency, and the reader gets to see them in new situations.
The few chapters told by Darcy are helpful in the overall story since the reader gets to experience what he is thinking and feeling. However, because Darcy is so disoriented, either from drugs or mental illness, his chapters are confusing and sad. While these chapters play an important part in the book, they are often challenging to understand, and a bit frustrating.
Many of the important supporting characters from prior books are included, but aren't present throughout the entire book. Sharon's friend, former assistant, and now sister-in-law Rae is a favorite character of mine due to her intelligence and outspoken manner. She shows her usual spunk, but makes too brief of an appearance in the book. Rae's housekeeper Mrs. Wellcome makes some very insightful and helpful observations about some of the people involved in the investigation. Her curiosity, along with her eavesdropping skills, would make her an interesting addition to future investigations. Fan's of Sharon's husband Hy Ripinsky may be disappointed to see he isn't involved a lot at the beginning of the story, but will be glad to see he plays an important role toward the end.
There are a few political comments in the book, and some come across better than others. Opinions in reference to 9-11 flow smoothly and fit in with the subject being discussed. Others, such as criticism of a specific TV network, seem random and don't add to the story.
In spite of this, I enjoyed this installment and look forward to upcoming books in this series. I have followed the series for several years, but new readers would also be able to enjoy the book. However much of Sharon`s back story and details about the many wonderful supporting characters aren`t included in this book and require reading some of the earlier books in the series. If you aren't familiar with Marcia Muller, but enjoy Sara Paretsky or Sue Grafton, then you will want to add "City of Whispers" to your reading list.
This book was provided to me by NetGalley, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.
McCone receives and email from Darcy Blackhawk, her half brother, with the message "Help me. I'm in SF." Although Darcy has dyed his hair green and he leaves twisted plastic straws to mark his trail, he is not easy to find. Along the way, McCone connects his disappearance to a young woman who was murdered a few years earlier. As she tracks down the woman's friends, she stumbles upon dead bodies instead.
Sadly, the book does not hold up to the others in the series, especially the early ones that established Muller's reputation and earned her the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. There's not much mystery, suspense or character development. A few regular characters from other books in the series are mentioned in passing, even though they don't appear. Other regular characters are included in just a few paragraphs, but serve no useful role in the story. When the motive behind Darcy's disappearance was eventually revealed, it seemed somewhat contrived. I give the book two stars for mystery and four stars because I enjoy Muller's writing and commentary, so the overall score is three stars with a hope that the next book in the series will be better. Muller has written some excellent stand-alone books where she is not constrained by having to include an ongoing cast of characters. I'd much rather read a Marcia Muller stand-alone than the next installment of a series that may have run out of steam.
That began to change with "Locked In." That's when she switched from first person point of view to shifting narrator point of view. It may have worked for that book, but even then I didn't like it. It slows the story down without adding insight about the characters or events of the plot.
Usually, once I start reading a Sharon McCone book, I can't put it down until I finish it. I still haven't managed to wade all the way through this one even though I had it on preorder and it downloaded to my Kindle on the date of publication.
It was hard to become interested in the plot because the people telling the story didn't seem interested in what was happening. It was obvious that Sharon didn't really care what had happened to her brother and was only going through the motions of finding him for her mother's sake. It was obvious that Mick didn't like him at all. It was obvious that her brother was mentally beyond caring about Sharon or himself. If the main characters in the story are either uninterested, uncaring, or oblivious, how is the reader supposed to care? Before I was even halfway through, I clicked to the last chapters to find out how it ended. I keep trying to go back and read the middle, but I just don't care about her brother, either. I want the sense of danger and adventure I found in "Wolf in the Shadows" or "A Wild and Lonely Place." Why bother to have Sharon McCone come back from her serious injury if she was going to come back as this dull, lifeless, stick figure caricature of the person she once was?