cover image Till the Butchers Cut Him Down: A Sharon McCone Mystery

Till the Butchers Cut Him Down: A Sharon McCone Mystery

Marcia Muller. Mysterious Press, $18.95 (339pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-455-0

While Muller continues to reveal new facets of character in her San Francisco PI, Sharon McCone, this latest case, the 15th, is considerably tamer than the Mexican border skirmishing featured in her 1993 Edgar-nominated A Wolf in the Shadows. McCone has just left the All-Souls Legal Cooperative and opened her own business when an eccentric friend from her UC-Berkeley days, who now specializes in rescuing failing corporations, asks her to find out who is sabotaging his efforts to save a San Francisco shipping firm and threatening his life. T. J. ``Suitcase'' Gordon reports some odd accidents, but McCone suspects that the obsessively private man may also be paranoid. She meets Gordon's wife Anna, who could have been her sister (``we looked that much alike''), but then an explosion destroys the Gordons' secluded northern California home, leaving Anna dead. With Gordon in reclusive mourning, Sharon investigates two of his past projects, one in a revived Nevada ghost town and another at a moribund steel center in Pennsylvania. Unearthing possible revenge motives and another murder victim, she draws the killer's malevolent attention to herself back in San Francisco. A final, abrupt climax caps this adventure, whose cast--outside of always amiable Sharon, her eager, troublesome nephew/assistant and her barely glimpsed lover, Hy Ripinsky--is a generally unengaging lot. Mystery Guild selection. (July)