MARCIA MULLER – Till the Butchers Cut Him Down. Sharon McCone #15. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1994; paperback, 1995.

   I was rooting for Wolf in the Shadows to win an Edgar because I think Muller is long overdue for awards recognition, even though I didn’t think it was one of the stronger in the series. When you look at writers with as many as 15 books about the same character, though, few have maintained her quality of output.

   Sharon has made one of the biggest decisions of her life, and decided to leave All Souls Legal Cooperative and strike out on her own as a private investigator. Not completely, though — her office is still in the same building among her old friends. Another old acquaintance, this one from her Berkley daya, becomes hre first client. Once a dealer in dope, exam papers, false ID’s and other such needed college paraphernalia, now he is a corporate turnaround specialist worth millions. He thinks someone is trying to kill him and ruin his business, and he wants Sharon to find out why.

   As is so often the case, the explanation for the present lies buried in the past, and she finds herself going back in time to Nevada and steel-town Pennsylvania in her quest. And there is always her enigmatic lover, Hy, and the question she has about his past and their future.

   I think Muller has returned to her old form here. It’s a “formula” hard-boiled PI tale, but enhanced by the continued growth and evolution of McCone as a character, and by Muller’s straightforward and very effective storytelling. I continue to think that Sharon McCone is one of the best realized protagonists in detective fiction, and that Muller is one of the best and most consistent practitioners of her craft.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #14, August 1994.