Marcia Muller, Author . Mysterious $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-89296-781-0

Anthony-winner Muller delivers another stand-alone (after 2001's Point Deception) set in northern California's fictional Soledad County that fails to measure up to her bestselling Sharon McCone series (Dead Midnight, etc.). After being unjustly suspected of murdering his missing ex-wife, Gwen, Matthew Lindstrom moved from Minnesota, where he taught college photography, to British Columbia, where he operates an excursion boat. When 14 years later an anonymous phone caller tells him Gwen is living in Cyanide Wells, Calif., as Ardis Coleman, Matt goes there to find her and clear his name. Hired by the local newspaper, which has won a Pulitzer for a series on the murder of a gay couple penned by the erratic Ardis, Matt discovers that his ex-wife is in a lesbian relationship with hot-headed newspaper editor Carly McGuire, with whom she shares a mixed-race daughter. When Ardis and the child vanish, Matt and Carly join forces to track them down. While Muller vividly paints the rugged northern California coast with its decaying towns and abandoned logging and mining areas now giving way to retirement communities, she leaves out her usual complicated characters and plot twists. Matt too easily gets the newspaper job, elicits confidences and uncovers secrets. The villains are pretty obvious, as is the secret behind the gay murders. Muller fans may prefer to wait for another McCone novel. Mystery Guild Main Selection. (July 16)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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