Sharon McCone’s latest adventure finds her holed up on husband Hy’s small family ranch located near the tiny high desert town of Vernon, CA. Supposedly, Sharon was there to decompress from the stresses of running her successful investigative agency, put the trauma of violence behind her and decide where to go next. A midlife crisis compounded by severe depression left Sharon barely able to function until the death of a troubled Paiute woman drew her attention.Every instinct told Sharon to stay out of it, that this was part of what she was trying to get away from, yet she couldn’t walk away from helping Ramon, Hy’s long time ranch manager. The murdered woman was one of Ramon’s relatives and his niece has disappeared without a trace. Sharon’s Native American heritage and Hy’s family ties enable her to gain the town peoples trust as she begins taking an active role in the unfolding investigation. With a rising body count, Sharon uncovers an insurance policy, ties to Vegas and a dark family secret that someone will do anything, including kill, to keep deeply buried.
Fans of the Sharon McCone series will enjoy seeing this side of the popular character as she struggles to redefine her life and solve a string of murders in the process. Native American stereotypes, dysfunctional families and trust are the prominent issues that Muller handles with a deft touch, just skirting overplaying Sharon’s character. Although the anticlimactic ending will leave some readers feeling cheated and the serendipity with which her career choices are resolved are a bit too convenient to ring true, this is still a smooth, well-written mystery.