RogerBW's Blog

The Cheshire Cat's Eye, Marcia Muller 17 October 2014

Third in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private investigator in San Francisco. McCone investigates the murder of a painter and decorator in a rough area that's being gentrified.

The research background for this book, and it does sometimes come through in big lectures, deals with the Victorian houses of San Francisco, the "painted ladies" that were psychedelically redecorated in the 1960s.

It's all fairly fast-paced, but the writing sometimes feels a little detached, taking a step back rather than throwing the reader into the visceral situation. I think this is a deliberate stylistic choice, because in the rare scenes of physical violence everything's much more immediate, and for me it works quite well. McCone is less of a hard-nosed neurotic bitch than some of her later imitators, and comes over as someone one might even enjoy having as a friend.

While it was published in 1983, this feels like a very 1970s book: racial tensions are everywhere, and from the way things are hedged around and explained it's clear that Muller was breaking expectations by including a homosexual character who wasn't limp-wristed and promiscuous. McCone's boyfriend, a homicide lieutenant, is very much a 1970s man, a patronising and chauvinistic blowhard whose appeal to the protagonist frankly eluded me.

There's a pleasing call-back to a significant character from the first book, Edwin of the Iron Shoes, but no prior knowledge is needed to enter the series at this point; in part because it's been imitated so often, the setting is thoroughly familiar, occupying the borderland between hard-boiled and cosy.

Followed by Games to Keep the Dark Away.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Ask the Cards a Question | Series: Sharon McCone | Next in series: Games to Keep the Dark Away

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1