The Ever-Running Man
A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller
Review: Mixing her personal and professional lives leads to complications for private investigator Sharon McCone in The Ever-Running Man, the 25th mystery in this long-running series by Marcia Muller.
The Ever-Running Man is comprised of two storylines, neither of which seems fully developed, that have been cobbled together to create one of the more disappointing entries in this series. The first of these, a tale of mistaken identity, is basically used as a red herring to the second, a tale of a vendetta.
McCone's husband, Hy Ripensky, is a partner in an ultra-secretive security firm with two other men with whom he had worked years earlier transporting goods throughout the Middle East and southeast Asia. The firm's offices have been the target of bombing attempts, and McCone has been hired to look into the matter. When one of the partners is killed, the authorities initially believe there is a connection to the bombings, but McCone thinks otherwise. Her staff discovers someone else with the same name as the dead partner and a connection between them, and she sets out to prove that the murder was independent of the bombings. The major problem with this scenario is that it is purported to be a case of stolen identity, yet no evidence is presented to indicate how the man whose name was "stolen" was ever harmed in any way or suffered any material or personal loss. As written, the murder victim adopted another man's name in the past and they led completely separate lives. Half of the book is devoted to this investigation which seems intended primarily to serve as filler for, or a diversion to, the mystery of the man who has been seen running from the scene of several of the bombings.
The bombings investigation is to some extent more interesting, though no more credible. Here, McCone suspects something in her husband's past may be motivating the bomber. The author, who has created such a wonderfully complex and richly drawn character in Sharon McCone, one that has grown and evolved during the series, convincingly relates the personal turmoil McCone faces during her investigation. But there are all sorts of plot points that just don't seem to fit. For a company obsessed with security, it's never made clear how the culprit managed to locate the firm's safe house (where McCone just happened to be staying) to place a bomb. For someone with a vendetta against the partners, using explosive devices seems particularly impersonal, rather impractical, and somewhat arbitrary. Why not target the partners directly? The use of bombs seems to be a convenient literary approach for adding sensational elements to mask an otherwise weak plot.
Fans of the series will want to read The Ever-Running Man for the ongoing development of series lead Sharon McCone who is truly among the best characters created in mystery fiction. Those readers looking for an intriguing investigation that showcases McCone's skills are better off picking up one of the earlier books.
Acknowledgment: Grand Central provided an ARC of The Ever-Running Man for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Bughouse Affair
Forge Books (Hardcover), January 2013
ISBN-13: 9780765331748; ISBN-10: 0765331748
Location(s) referenced in The Ever-Running Man: San Francisco, California
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The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller — A Sharon McCone Mystery
Publisher: Warner Books
Publication Date: July 2007
List Price: $24.99