cover image Wolf in the Shadows

Wolf in the Shadows

Marcia Muller. Mysterious Press, $18.95 (356pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-525-0

Alpha female of the pack of American PIs, San Francisco investigator Sharon McCone learns for herself how tough her readers have long known her to be in this, her 14th appearance. On a case that winds through her personal history, Sharon hides out in her childhood home near San Diego and crosses, not always legally, the U.S.-Mexican border to end up facing a future quite different than what she--or we--might have predicted. All Souls Legal Cooperative, long Sharon's employer, is assuming a corporate air; the partners want their unconventional investigator to move into a more administrative position. At the same time, her lover Hy Ripinsky disappears. She traces him to a slick security firm for whom he apparently agreed to deliver the $2 million ransom to the abductors of the CEO of a biotech company about to market a cancer drug. The drug, extracted from dolphin cartilage, has roused the fear and ire of environmentalist groups with whom Hy had once been associated. The high-tech security outfit is convinced Hy has stolen the ransom; Sharon, unsure of anything, says she'll find him and get back the money. Evading their suspicious operatives and the cops, she infiltrates southern California's community of illegals, makes some valuable friends and fierce enemies and learns in a final, breathtaking confrontation the full extent of her own resources. With a finely tuned secondary cast, well-drawn settings and a satisfyingly intricate plot held firmly in hand (except for a few moments of minor melodrama and some unnecessary foreshadowing), Muller keeps the spotlight on Sharon here. She shines. Mystery Guild selection . (July)