This week we continued with private eye novels, talking about the first V. I. Warshawski novel, Indemnity Only and a later Sharon McCone mystery, The Broken Promise Land. There was discussion about how these books fit into the women’s movement, the risks that the detectives take, the role of their relationships and decisions not to have children. The question was raised as to whether they are meant to be based on the characters of the male loner detectives of Marlowe and Hammet.
I have read all of Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone mysteries and was happy to re visit this title that is set in the world of country music. The case involves threats that are made to country star, Ricky Savage, who is married to one of Sharon’s sisters. Long term readers of the series will enjoy the family updates while, readers new to the series, can still enjoy the book. Of note though, Sharon has various relationships before hers with Hy; these are told in earlier books.
The V. I. books are classics in their field. They are written by a very well educated author who loves Chicago and makes the place almost another character in the series. This book showcases V. I.’s first case. I found that I enjoyed the Muller book more. If you read both, let me know what you think.
From Publishers Weekly
Muller surpasses herself with this vigorous and trenchant mystery thriller, exploring stardom and family life, ambition and revenge, loneliness and conflicting loyalties. In her 17th appearance (after A Wild and Lonely Place and Wolf in the Shadows), the continuously evolving San Francisco PI Sharon McCone, now the head of her own small firm, learns from her brother-in-law, country music megastar Ricky Savage, of increasingly incoherent anonymous notes being sent to his unlisted address, all asking the same question: “Whatever happened to my song?” Agreeing to investigate, Sharon is propelled into both the twisted, oversized world of celebrity and the more intimate devastation occurring within her sister Charlene’s family. At the Savage mansion in San Diego hills, Sharon and her lover, security specialist Hy Ripinsky, find the family in turmoil, with Ricky and Charlene, who has found someone new, on the verge of divorce. As the threats escalate to include the six Savage children, safeguards are breached and Ricky’s manager is injured in a shooting. With Ricky’s major tour approaching, Sharon links the notes to an aspiring singer with whom Ricky had a one-night stand in Texas years before, a woman who pursued him so relentlessly he sent two of his band members, now deceased, to rough her up. While Sharon’s associate and friend Rae Kelleher is increasingly involved in tracking down the Texas singer-and with Ricky-Sharon wonders if she and Hy might also be drifting apart. Leading Sharon into the rocky psychological terrain of families, Muller gives her meticulously plotted story, with its absorbing picture of the music industry, a commanding emotional authenticity. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From a bookseller page:
Meeting an anonymous client late on a sizzling summer night is asking for trouble. But trouble is Chicago private eye V. I. Warshawski’s specialty. Her client says he’s the prominent banker John Thayer. Turns out he’s not. He says his son’s girlfriend, Anita Hill, is missing. Turns out that’s not her real name.
V. I.’s search turns up someone soon enough—the real John Thayer’s son, and he’s dead. Who’s V. I.’s client? Why has she been set up and sent out on a wild-goose chase? By the time she’s got it figured, things are hotter—and deadlier—than Chicago in July. V. I.’s in a desperate race against time. At stake: a young woman’s life.