Shot in the head by an unknown assailant, San Francisco private eye Sharon McCone finds herself trapped by locked-in syndrome: almost total paralysis but an alert, conscious mind. Since the late-night attack occurred at her agency's offices, the natural conclusion was that it was connected to one of the firm's cases. As Sharon lies in her hospital bed, furiously trying to break out of her body's prison and discover her attacker's identity, all the members of her agency fan out to find the reason why she was assaulted. Meanwhile, Sharon becomes a locked-in detective, evaluating the clues from her staff's separate investigations and discovering unsettling truths that could put her life in jeopardy again. As the case draws to a surprising and even shocking conclusion, Sharon's husband, Hy, must decide whether or not to surrender to his own violent past and exact fatal vengeance when the person responsible is identified.
Bestseller Muller's harrowing 27th mystery to feature San Francisco PI Sharon McCone (after 2008's Burn Out) opens with a bang: returning to her office late one night, McCone is shot while interrupting a burglary. When she wakes up in the hospital, McCone is fully conscious but “locked in.” Paralyzed, she can communicate only by blinking her eyes. Muller articulates this chilling conceit with painful realism, even citing the popular French memoir about the locked-in syndrome, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Narrative duty falls on McCone's motley crew of co-workers and other series regulars like her husband, Hy Ripinsky. Each chapter, told from a different perspective, provides another clue in a convoluted case that includes multiple murders, a sex scandal in city government and the inevitable coverup. While this approach can be hard to follow at times, it provides Muller ample opportunity to showcase her strength at characterization. (Oct.)