LOCKED IN by Marcia Muller

Book Quote:

The situation with McCone was evidently much worse than when the medical professionals thought she was in a coma.

“I don’t understand why nobody noticed she was….in there,” Hy said. “Shouldn’t they have seen the eyeblinks and motion when they put saline solution or whatever it is they use to keep the eyes hydrated?”

“Initially she was in a coma; if the patient’s eyes are closed and hydrating normally, there’s no need to augment it. Anyway, now that we know she’s awake, as indicated by the good brain wave activity shown in the CT scans taken at SF General and here earlier today, our preliminary diagnosis is locked-in syndrome. ..”

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale (DEC 17, 2009)

Locked In, Marcia Muller’s 27th novel starring Sharon McCone, the owner of the San Francisco detective agency McCone Investigations, is somewhat of a departure in this enjoyable series started over 30 years ago (Edwin of the Iron Shoes). In her latest adventure, Sharon is attacked while entering her office building late at night after her car breaks down. She is shot and seriously injured by the intruder and becomes “Locked-In” where she is so paralyzed that the only thing she can move are her eyes. Her friends and family work together and separately as they look into their various cases to see who could have been responsible for Sharon’s attack while waiting and hoping to see if Sharon’s condition improves.

The books in this series are normally told in the first person perspective of Sharon McCone and although that still happens in this book (as we get to feel Sharon’s frustrations and other emotions that no one else hears), this book is also presented in several other third person perspectives. This includes Hy Ripinsky, Sharon’s long term lover and husband who of course is very concerned but who also has many resources from his own company. Sharon’s nephew and employee Mick Savage is also a key character as he not only uses his computer expertise to help in the various investigations, but also does field investigations for which he is not nearly as comfortable. Other perspectives are provided by Rae Kelleher, a long time friend of Sharon, and now part-time operative as she now usually spends more time writing novels and being with her husband (and Mick’s father) singer Ricky Savage. She comes out of semi-retirement to look into some of the cases that Sharon was working to see if anyone is a likely suspect. Other operatives working the case whose perspective is provided include newer operatives Julia Raphael and former FBI investigator Craig Morland. Of course other long time characters are present in the book, including Sharon’s other family members and other members of Sharon’s firm, but they are all presented from the perspective of the many characters mentioned previously.

Hy and the operatives work hard to solve the case of Sharon’s attack while continuing to work on the cases they been hired to do and that may hold the answer to Sharon’s attacker. Of course, they are all concerned for Sharon’s well-being and even use some of Sharon’s eye-blinking yes or no counsel during their visits. The reader of course is still getting Sharon’s perspective on all of these “conversations” as well as her frustration and concern about whether she will ever improve.

The many changing perspectives were not too difficult to follow especially since Sharon was still prevalent throughout the book. However, the various cases being followed by the different characters did at times get a bit confusing especially since they became related as the operatives looked further into the cases.

As I’ve stated in prior reviews, Marcia Muller is my favorite female author, although I generally prefer the earlier books in the series. I think some older fans of the series have not been as faithful but I think this series is still very good. This book, although different from others in the series since it has varying perspectives (and something she borrowed from her husband Bill Pronzini’s Nameless series) is still very enjoyable. Locked In is another great addition to the series.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 34 readers
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (October 15, 2009)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: We have reviewed many of Marcia Muller’s books in the past:

The Ever-Running Man

Vanishing Point

The Dangerous Hour

Dead Midnight

Cape Perdido

Cyanide Wells

Point Deception


Stand-alone Mysteries:

Sharon McCone Mysteries:

Elena Oliverez Mysteries

Joanna Stark Mysteries:


Written with Bill Pronzini:

December 17, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: California, Sleuths Series, y Award Winning Author

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