City of Whispers by Marcia Muller. Or telegraph brief.

City of Whispers
Recommended for: devot Muller fans only
Read on February 02, 2013, read count: almost once
★★

Using rough draft as final copy. Telegram style beginning. Author tired. Tweets as chapters?

I enjoyed the early Sharon McCone mysteries, but it appears that our relationship may be heading toward the end. This latest installment–number 29–reads more like the draft of a manuscript than the highly polished page-turner she is capable of writing.

Shifting narrative between Mick, her nephew/computer genius operative; Darcy, her drug-addled half-brother; and McCone is used in a listless attempt to develop tension. Unfortunately, only Darcy develops any distinctive voice and the changes do little to build mystery. Sharon’s motives for involvement in the search for her half-brother are spurious, and the mystery surrounding him mundane. While that had potential in an era of serial killers and assorted psychopaths, the writing fails to develop any sense of menace or danger, except perhaps, one scene mid-book. Once the solution becomes clear, the over-reaction of all main characters (spoiler) is a challenge to belief. I found myself thinking I can’t believe anyone cares. Really? (view spoiler) I have a hard time believing this is a legitimate solution to anyone except Randy Quaid.

An integral part of many mystery series is the setting. Landscape lends itself to identity, plotting and atmosphere and can become a cornerstone of a great series. Think Spenser and Boston, Scudder and New York, Warshawski and Chicago, Robicheaux and New Orleans. San Fransisco, one of my favorite cites, should shine in a mystery series, but Muller seems content to drop landmarks into the plot without regard to describing atmosphere, almost if she was writing a shorthand draft.

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I found her desultory description disappointing, especially in a book spent tracking a homeless man–the ideal opportunity to let setting shine.

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Muller is a good author, honestly. It’s not for nothing that she’s a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, and that four of her books have been nominated for Shamus awards and one a winner. Just not this one. Unfortunately, both McCone and Muller seem to be suffering from ennui, making this a time-waster. Take a pass on this one and try her earlier books.

Two. Stars.

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About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Mystery and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to City of Whispers by Marcia Muller. Or telegraph brief.

  1. One day, I will get to San Fransisco. It’s on my bucket list 🙂

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