RogerBW's Blog

Where Echoes Live, Marcia Muller 18 March 2018

1991 mystery; eleventh in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private investigator in San Francisco. Out near the California-Nevada border, an environmental group is fighting the big mining company that's planning to reopen the old gold workings. But someone's playing dirty, and Sharon's brought in to find out what's going on.

But, thank goodness, this isn't a story about Evil Miners and Good Environmentalists. Or even the other way round. It is in a thinly-veiled copy of the real world, though; Tufa Lake and Promiseville are admitted stand-ins for Mono Lake and Bodie, but stand-ins that didn't have the big fights over them in the 1970s and 1980s and are still decaying in the 1990s.

It's immediately clear that something odd is going on, with reports of break-ins and mysterious watchers; this soon escalates to a body in the lake, mysterious Chinese businessmen, and disappeared landowners. It does all make sense in the end, and it even hangs together as a set of very disparate branches off a single plot, though if one particular witness had spoken up a little sooner the book would have been about half the length.

Sharon's personal life is still a major part of the story: her mother is on a family tour imparting big news, her relationship seems to be going nowhere, and while she has a certain amount of post-traumatic stress from the previous book the ongoing stress-inducer is that her friends and co-workers now see her as a Violent Person and shy away from her. This works pretty well, even if her self-analysis as a danger junkie doesn't entirely ring true.

Followed by Pennies on a Dead Woman's Eyes.

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