Sharon McCone is hired by her husband's security firm to track down 'the ever-running man,' a shadowy figure who has been leaving explosive devices at their various offices. She doesn't have to search for long. When McCone narrowly escapes an explosion at the security firm's San Francisco offices, she catches a glimpse of his retreating figure.
The ever-running man is dangerously close--and anyone connected to the firm seems to be within his deadly range. To complicate matters, McCone is forced to question her intensely private husband, Hy, about his involvement in some of the firm's dark secrets. The history of corruption may jeopardize their marriage, but uncovering the secrets of the firm may be the only way she can save her husband's life, and her own.
After 25 books in 30 years, the novelty of a female private eye such as MWA Grand Master Muller's Sharon McCone has worn off, but McCone has only gained luster since her original appearance in Edwin of the Iron Shoes (1977). The San Francisco investigator is in top form as she unravels a case that may unravel her marriage. When Renshaw & Kessell International, a maverick corporate security firm dealing in contingency plans for kidnappings and hostage situations, hires McCone after a series of bombings has damaged its facilities, she starts by looking into the checkered pasts of the firm's co-owners. Readers may find the collateral damage that threatens to tear apart McCone's private life as involving as the search for the bomber, who soon moves from demolition to murder. Muller delivers the complete package, an absorbing mystery with a familiar and evolving cast and enough grit to give it satisfying substance. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
July 11, 2007
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Excerpt from The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller
"Here's what we have on the ever-running man," Hy said.
He dropped the fat file on my desk and sat in one of the clients' chairs, stretching out his long legs and crossing them at the ankle.
I poked the file with my fingertip. It was at least three inches thick, with multicolored pages. "This is the job you mentioned last night at dinner?"
"And why's he called 'the ever-running man"
"Long story. Maybe you should read the file, and then we'll talk."
I shook my head. "I'd prefer an overview from you first."
Momentarily he looked disconcerted, running his fingers through his thick, dark blond curls. A handsome man, my husband, with his hawk nose and luxuriant mustache and intelligent brown eyes. Normally self-assured, too. But he seldom dealt with me on a professional basis; I'd contracted a few times with Renshaw & Kessell International, the security firm in which he was a partner, but I'd reported to either Gage Renshaw or Dan Kessell. Sitting in my clients' chair and having me set the terms was something Hy wasn't altogether prepared for.
To put him at ease, I motioned to the file and said, "Facts, reports, other people's insights--they're static. Why don't you fill me in, make the situation come alive."
He nodded. He was primarily a hostage negotiator, not an investigator, but he understood the process. "Okay. You asked . . . ?"
"Why you call him the ever-running man."
He steepled his fingers under his chin. "Because every time anyone's seen him he's been running away, and because we've been chasing him for two years. It seems he's capable of running forever."
"And why are you chasing him?"
"He has a vendetta against RKI. As you know, we've got offices in most of the world's major cities. Some are large--New York, Tokyo, Paris, Chicago. Some're medium-sized--Atlanta, Toronto, Sydney, Munich. And others're staffed by one or two people who refer clients to the nearest large office and provide support for our operatives when they're working in the area. There's a complete list of them, along with contact information, in the file."
"And the ever-running man . . . ?"
Hy stood and began to pace, hands clasped behind his back. "It started two years ago last month. January seventeenth. The auto industry and allied businesses were cutting back on corporate security, and we'd downsized our Detroit area office in Farmington Hills. We had only three people working there. On the seventeenth, the office manager was putting in overtime. There was an explosion, and she was killed."
"The cause of the explosion?"
"Something to do with a leaking gas line--at least that's what the police said. We weren't satisfied with their investigation, so we sent an operative back there to ask around. A woman who was working in an office across the street noticed a man running away from the building a few minutes before it blew, but it was dark and she couldn't see him very well."
"You took that information to the police, of course."
"And they said yeah, sure, thanks a lot. And back-burnered the case."
As Hy continued speaking, he unclasped his hands and began making the wide, swooping gestures that are characteristic of those who fly airplanes. I had never had that mannerism before I became a pilot, but now I caught myself employing it with increasing frequency. It gave me the illusion I could soar even when earthbound.
"Okay," he said. "We put it down as a one-time occurrence. But a month later there was another explosion in a small office in Houston. In the middle of the night, so nobody was killed, thank God, although a witness who was returning home late saw a male-sized figure running in the vicinity. The HPD said the explosion was deliberately rigged, and the FBI was called in, but they never came up with so much as a suspect."