By Marcia Muller

Hatchette, November 6, 2012 ($23.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-446-57335-1

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Sharon McCone is not totally happy with the new digs for her investigative firm, All Souls Legal Cooperative, but the parking garage is a definite plus, and the elevator, although old and creaky, has a certain charm. She puts aside the unpacking to talk with a new client with a very intriguing story. Carolyn "Caro" Warrick was acquitted of murdering her best friend a few years ago, but many people believed her to be guilty, and her life has been on a downhill track since the trial.

Caro has come to Sharon because she has been asked to co-author a book about the case, and she wants to be sure the timeline and facts are correct. She does not say it, but Sharon believes she also hopes an investigation will exonerate her once and for all, and perhaps discover the identity of the real killer. Sharon is somewhat reluctant to take the case, but Caro says she will give the firm full access to all information and parties involved. She promises she will not lie, something which is a deal-breaker to Sharon. As soon as Sharon begins her investigation, she discovers that Caro has not kept that promise. Several of the people involved in the case, including her lawyer and her brother, tell Sharon things that differ from her client's version. When Caro is attacked and ends up in the hospital, she ceases to be a client, but McCone decides to continue the investigation.

There are several people who provide information, and any one of them are also potential suspects in the original crime. The attorney, who was a family friend, seems to be on Caro's side, and is apparently cooperating fully with the investigation. Her shrink has some uncomplimentary things to say about his patient, but he is not unsympathetic. A sleazy reporter does seem to have a vendetta against Caro. The ex-boyfriend who cheated on her with the murder victim is a real piece of work, but is he a killer? Caro's parents are cold and indifferent to their daughter and her two siblings, providing a clue as to why Caro is so messed up. Her brother and sister truly care about her, despite Caro's saying she rarely saw them. And what about the couple in the wine country, who claim not to know her, despite evidence to the contrary?

This is a rich, complex tale that takes the reader through the streets of San Francisco and up the California coast to the wine country and idyllic villages as the mystery unfolds. Evidence of money laundering and gun running is revealed as possible motives for the crime. Someone very much does not want this case to be solved, and Sharon suffers a tragic loss because she will not be warned off. Muller's mysteries are always excellent, and this is one of the best of the series.

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