Select one of the keywords
Dead Midnight    by Marcia Muller order for
Dead Midnight
by Marcia Muller
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

When we last left Sharon McCone, she was resolved to track down her brother, Joey, who had seemingly fallen off the map. Joey's always been somewhat of a drifter, so finding him would be difficult at best, but Sharon was determined to do so. In Dead Midnight, Sharon has found her brother, dead by suicide. All he left behind is a note stating simply, "I'm sorry."

As Sharon grapples with the feelings of anger and guilt caused by her brother's death, she is offered a job that involves investigating another suicide. Roger Nagasawa's father is convinced that his son was driven to kill himself by stress caused by extreme overwork, and wants to mount a lawsuit based on similar cases in Japan. Sharon is unwilling at first to take on this case, due to the uncomfortable associations invoked, but agrees to later, partly to lay her own ghosts. As Sharon investigates, other motives for Roger's suicide become apparent, not necessarily having to do with work-related stress. While struggling to tie together the information that begins to flood her, Sharon gains a deeper insight into the reasoning behind people's actions.

Sharon's come a long way in twenty-five years of sleuthing, and seems more relaxed and laid back than in previous novels. She's still very active in her investigative business, even though she has lots of employees to take up the slack. New to the staff is Julia Rafael, a young woman who's had a somewhat checkered past - readers sense that there are intriguing storylines ahead with her. Interspersed with Sharon's increasingly convoluted investigation are events in the lives of her friends and colleagues, which give us a sense of who Sharon is in relation to them. We also are given lots of details of San Francisco scenery, which is always interesting reading.

Sharon McCone is a likeable character who at times can be brusque, but most often is a warm and caring person. She is also very liberal, in terms of both religion and politics, and at times the author seems to be saying, "See, this is how the intelligent woman should believe." However, readers don't have to agree with Muller's views to enjoy her writing style, which still makes her reigning queen of the tough, smart female detective genre.

The plot is exciting, but the story seems short and could use more depth, though it does move along at a crisp pace, keeping interest high until the end. The bad guys are obvious right from the beginning, but this type of detective story is more concerned with the reasons behind the actions, rather than whodunit. I do not consider Dead Midnight one of Muller's best entries (A Wild and Lonely Place, While Other People Sleep, There's Something in a Sunday), but the language and writing as always entertains and involves.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews