MARCIA MULLER “The Holes in the System.” Rae Kelleher #2. First appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 1996. Reprinted in Detective Duos, edited by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini (Oxford University Press, 1997). Collected in McCone and Friends (Crippen & Landru, softcover, 2000).

   From what I have been able to determine, this is the second story in which Rae Kelleher, Sharon McCone’s assistant at the All Souls Legal Cooperative, gets the top billing. I do not believe that there was a third one, but as I’ve only discovered an earlier one after this review was first posted, I could very easily be wrong again. (See comment #3.) No matter. I just finished reading this one, and it’s a good one.

   Rae is asked to look into a case brought to them by the Texas-born owner of a pawn shop in San Francisco by the name of the Cash Cow. It seems that he has recently hired a young deaf and mute boy he found on his doorstep, and he would like to find the boy’s mother, who has disappeared.

   Even though Rae tells the story, fans of Sharon McCone should know that not only does she shows up to help crack the case, but this time around we get to see her through the eyes of someone else, one who considers her a mentor as well as a boss, and a friend.

   What we also get is a mystery story in which some detective work is actually done, has its amusing moments, and as a bonus, is a story in which the mean streets that Raymond Chandler talked about come into play as well. Quite an accomplishment for a tale only 22 pages long!