Sharon McCone has decided to throw herself into work so she can get past her brother's suicide, but the wrongful-death suit she is working on hits too close to home. It's a civil case in which the family of a young 'zine em-ployee claims his suicide was the result of his company's treatment of him. In his final journal entry, Roger Nagasawa describes his fatal plunge from the San Francisco Bridge as being "swept away from sadness." With the help of her friend, J.D. Smith, McCone investigates the InSite offices and soon learns of its publisher's less-than-professional activities. She also learns that Roger had been afraid for his life since he was a witness to computer espionage. Faced with the death of her friend, Smith, and the sudden disappearance of Roger's associate, McCone must keep one step ahead of the game and solve this mystery-or else become the next victim.
Muller and her private eye Sharon McCone have come a long way since Edwin of the Iron Shoes (1977), which introduced McCone and inspired a generation of female mystery writers. Since then Muller's writing has become richer and her novels more complex, with many startling changes in the socially conscious San Francisco detective's life. This is Muller's best yet, with a case that parallels a personal tragedy McCone is trying to understand her brother Joey's recent suicide. Roger Nagasawa, scion of a wealthy Japanese-American family, has killed himself. Roger's heartbroken parents plan to sue his employer, a hip online magazine, for wrongful death because of rumored brutal working conditions. As usual in McCone mysteries, greed and corruption lie beneath the surface. First, Jody Houston, Roger's friend to whom he'd revealed illegal financial activities at the magazine, disappears. Then Max Engstrom, Roger's maniacal boss, tells Sharon that someone is sabotaging his business and one of his backers has vanished. More deaths ensue. After McCone retrieves Roger's computer files detailing his discoveries, she's almost killed. Muller deftly uses familiar devices electronic embezzlement and shady real estate deals in a convoluted but provocative plot. Her love of San Francisco is evident from her vivid descriptions of the city and its history. Although her villains are often obvious, she delves deeply into the human psyche for motivation. Readers will be thoroughly satisfied. (June 19) Forecast: That this Mystery Guild main selection marks the 25th anniversary of the series should attract extra media attention, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the author will be making personal appearances. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Grand Central Publishing
June 30, 2003
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