Book: Listen to the Silence

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Listen to the Silence: A Sharon McCone Mystery

Author: Marcia Muller
Publisher: Mysterious Press

For Sharon McCone, when one door opens, another shuts. In the midst of celebrating the joyous wedding of friends, she gets word that her father has suddenly died in San Diego. After making the sad journey home to help scatter his ashes, she also learns that her father quested that she, not any of her four brothers and sisters, be the one to sort through his personal effects. In a cardboard carton marked “Legal Papers,” McCone will discover why. A highly confidential document, long hidden, soon provokes a violent breach between McCone and her mother and sends McCone searching for the truth kept from her about the past. It’s a truth about four friends, a shattered love affair, and a violent murder. It’s a truth that no none wants her to find…

Now, from a reservation in Montana to locate Shoshone relatives to tracking down other kin at a sacred Indian lake in northern California, McCone will encounter old family secrets and modern disputes, an environmental lawyer in desperate trouble, and a ruthless developed who’s a bigot to boot. She will feel a widening reservoir of anger and fear opening up between herself and the people she knows and loves best. And when someone tampers with her car to leave her stranded in a hostile landscape and very much alone in a dark inner place, McCone may face both an identity crisis—and a killer—in a case that cuts close to the bone, transforms her soul, and threatens to send her to the grave.


Sharon McCone (A Walk Through the Fire, McCone & Friends, Both Ends of the Night, etc.) is used to solving problems. She’s been doing it for over 20 years in Marcia Muller’s pioneering and acclaimed series about the San Francisco PI. And thanks to her extended and occasionally dysfunctional family, she’s no stranger to the consequences of revealing the occasional skeleton in the closet. But her latest case is both personal and deeply devastating. After her father dies, Sharon discovers documents that have been hidden for her entire life and they launch her on a voyage of self-discovery. Intent on exploring her own past, Sharon travels from a Shoshone Indian reservation in Montana to a ghost town in northern California, and she becomes involved in a larger story of deceit—and murder.

Writing a series means treading delicately on a high wire between repetition and revelation. Having once created a character who will voyage through two or 10 or 10,000 books, an author must decide what facets of the character’s life will reappear as touchstones in each book, what items may be left by the wayside, how the past will inform the present, and how the present will indicate the future. With each new novel, the author reaches out to readers who may be comfortably familiar with the series and to readers who may be discovering it for the first time. There is no shortage of mystery writers whose series are immensely rewarding (think Sara Paretsky or Sue Grafton), but it’s a difficult balancing act nonetheless. With Listen to the Silence, Marcia Muller seems to stumble slightly, just enough to leave readers wondering whether a safety net is in order. It’s as if the burden of the past becomes too heavy for either character or author to support. Sharon seems a trifle flat, and Muller’s integration of family and familiarity seems forced and abrupt. A first-time reader would do well to seek out earlier volumes in the series, but confirmed Muller fans will still relish the intensity with which the novel plunges into deeply unsettling territory. —Kelly Flynn

Barnes and Noble

It really shouldn’t have come as such a shock. Two brothers and two sisters alike as peas in a pod, and Sharon McCone always the odd one out. The one who was as dark as her siblings were fair. The one who excelled in school while the others did not. The one whose life was always in order…until now. Because now Sharon McCone knows a secret that is sending her world into a tailspin, a secret that cuts to the heart of her very identity. And now, to get to the truth, she must journey back in time and bring stunning closure to the story of four friends, a shattered love affair-and murder. Only this time, it’s personal.

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