cover image Pennies on a Dead Woman's Eyes

Pennies on a Dead Woman's Eyes

Marcia Muller. Mysterious Press, $18.95 (297pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-454-3

The 13th Sharon McCone mystery brings good luck to readers as Muller's veteran San Francisco PI explores crimes of passion and politics as they were played out in the Bay Area during the pre-Beat 1950s. In an intricate plot, McCone agrees to help lawyer Jack Stuart, her colleague at All Souls Legal Cooperative, build a case he will retry in the legal profession's Historical Tribunal. Stuart will defend Lisstet Benedict, who was recently released from prison after doing time for killing and mutilating her husband's young lover in 1956. Benedict was convicted on the testimony of her then-10-year-old daughter, now Stuart's lover, who hopes a new trial will turn up evidence, clearing her mother and exonerating herself. McCone finds herself emotionally drawn into the decades-old crime, especially to the murder scene--a now-uninhabited Seacliff mansion that then housed the Institute of North American Studies, a conservative think tank where Benedict's husband worked. Anti-Communist sentiment and personal betrayal figure large in the resolution of the 36-year-old crime and contemporary deaths that its revisiting inspire. Vintage Muller. Mystery Guild dual main selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Book selection. (July)