Opening with a map of Soledad County, and a terse, shocking phone call deft mystery writer Marcia Muller hooks readers and then speedily reels them in for an intriguing journey to unlock the past. With more than 30 novels to her credit and the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award pocketed, she's a skillful weaver of tales shrouded in mystery and suspense.
Apparently a believer in fast starts Ms. Muller begins her story in Minnesota with a ringing telephone. When Matt Lindstrom answers a voice identifies himself as a Wyoming law officer and asks whether Matt is married to Gwen Lindstrom. Once Matt says that he is, there is this startling message: "Her car was found in my jurisdiction.....Nothing wrong with the vehicle, but there were bloodstains on the dash and other signs consistent with a struggle. A purse containing her identification and credit cards was on the passenger's seat."
A body is never found but Matt is branded as a murderer, and his professional career is soon in ruins. Fast forward to 14 years later, and another phone call. This time an anonymous caller tells Matt that his wife is quite alive, and "very cognizant of what she put you through when she disappeared." Further, the voice said she's living in Cyanide Wells under the name of Ardis Coleman.
Disbelieving but desperately wanting answers Matt heads for the West Coast.
California is a lush state that can be both breathtakingly beautiful and threatening. The same might be said of the Golden State's Soledad County, especially Cyanide Wells. Today that community is home for those with a penchant for the avant garde. In yesteryear it was a gold mining town whose residents found that their water supply had been laced with cyanide.
Matt arrives here in hopes of finding Gwen, clearing his name, and exacting a pound of flesh for what he has suffered.
What he finds is Carly McGuire, a woman with a past of her own, and a snarled web of deception that he may or may not be able to untangle.
Marcia Muller never disappoints, as is shown once more with "Cyanide Wells."
- Gail Cooke