Monday, October 26, 2009

Marcia Muller: Locked In

Marcia Muller has been chronicling the life of Sharon McCone since Edwin of The Iron Shoes way back in 1977. What has kept the series at the forefront of contemporary detective fiction has been the growing depth of the writing and Muller's observations on character and milieu.

I'd be remiss if I didn't note the way Muller has frequently varied McCone's circumstances. The regular characters around McCone have changed and multiplied over the years. McCone got her pilot's license. Her love life has changed occasionally too. None of these turns has been gratuitous. They have evolved with McCone evolving over the thirty years and the twenty-six books in which she's shared her life with us.

All that said, there's never been as radical a departure in the McCone canon as LOCKED IN. Here we have McCone shot in the head early on and lying near death in a hospital--what the docs call locked-in syndrome--able to communicate only by blinking.

So it's up to the regular cast including Hy Ripinsky (Sharon's husband), Julia Rafael and Mike Savage, McCone's often unreliable nephew--these and a few others are McCone's "legs" as they rush to discover who shot her. Give the number of cases she's worked on over the years. it could have been anyone. But blinking in response to questions McCone aids the investigation.

As much as I've always admired McCone's first person voice, I'm also a fan of her work in third person going back to The Tree of Death (1983) and The Cavalier in White (1986). And her expertise with third person is stronger than ever here as her friends tear through the night for the truth. The third person also allows Muller to give us richer backgrounds on the regular cast--we're seeing things now through their eyes rather than Sharon's.

This is a fine, exciting and novel novel. An essential addition to Marcia Muller's body of work.


Todd Mason said...

Wow. I've been getting the impression that Muller was looking to wrap up the McCone series, but that's certainly one way to go out with a literal bang. I'll be looking forward to where they go from here.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have always enjoyed her work-a really memorable series.

Brendan DuBois said...

Wow. Twenty-six books... as my mom would say, God bless her...