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Before V.I. Warshawski, there was Sharon McCone.
What is the Sharon McCone series about?
Written by American mystery author Marcia Muller and published since 1977, the Sharon McCone series is about a female private detective.
Based in San Francisco, Sharon McCone wanted to become a social worker but she discovered she had some talents in the field of investigation. She ended up working as a staff investigator for a legal co-op founded by Hank Zahn, a lawyer.
As the investigations and the years passed, the life and career of Sharon evolved, but she never stopped solving crimes, even in the direst of circumstances.
How to read the Sharon McCone Books in Order?
Every book in the Sharon McCone series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Edwin of the Iron Shoes – It’s Sharon McCone’s first case as staff investigator for All Souls Legal Cooperative. She knows nothing about antiques. But when elderly dealer Joan Albritton has been found dead, stabbed with an antique dagger. Ferreting out the facts will take Sharon from the chaotic jumble of the junk dealer’s establishment to a museum where San Francisco’s most elegant socialites gather.
- Ask the Cards a Question – Who would have wanted to kill Molly Antonio – the nicest woman in Sharon’s building? Madam Anya had warned Molly that the cards foretold evil. It’s all too close for comfort as Sharon McCone races against the clock to find the killer and clear her friend – Linnea Carraway – the prime suspect.
- The Cheshire Cat’s Eye – Investigating her friend’s murder, private eye Sharon McCone follows a trail into San Francisco’s glamorous architectural community in search of a very valuable clue–a Tiffany lamp adorned with the grinning face of a Cheshire Cat.
- Games to Keep the Dark Away – Suspicious deaths at an exclusive hospice, a missing social worker, a town full of secretive, hostile residents, and a body on the beach lead Sharon McCone down a deadly trail of secret lives and into mortal danger.
- Leave a Message for Willie – When a priceless collection of sacred Torah scrolls turns up at a San Francisco flea market, Sharon McCone is called upon to protect sidewalk sale kingpin Willie Whelan from a stalker and a band of fanatical killers.
- Double (co-written with Bill Pronzini) – A crossover with the Nameless Detective series. The “Nameless Detective” and Sharon McCone join forces at a San Diego private detective convention to investigate a case involving multiple murders, a crime ring dealing in smuggled fugitives, and bizarre, kinky lifestyles.
- There’s Nothing to Be Afraid Of – Believing that someone from the shadowy underworld in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district is trying to drive out the Vietnamese families living at the Globe Apartments, Sharon McCone finds suspects in a poet, a preacher, and a pornographer.
- Eye of the Storm – Private investigator Sharon McCone is lured away from her practice at the All Souls law cooperative to what she thinks will be a weekend “busman’s holiday”. But before her weekend can get underway, she walks into the eye of a storm and becomes the target of a murderous act.
- There’s Something in a Sunday – Private eye Sharon McCone takes on a routine surveillance as a favor to a long-time client of her employer, the All-Souls Law Co-operative. Soon, however, the routine case turns into a murder investigation and leads to San Francisco’s upper-class social activists.
- The Shape of Dread – Bobby Foster is going to the gas chamber. He’s already confessed to the murder of Tracy Kostakos. But two years after the crime, Tracy’s body is still missing and Bobby’s confession is full of holes. All Souls Legal Cooperative’s final appeal sends P.I. Sharon McCone into a labyrinth of death and deception where someone will kill to laugh last and get away with murder.
- Trophies and Dead Things – Investigator Sharon McCone probes the strange will of murder victim Perry Hilderly, who had disinherited his children to leave his fortune to four strangers and uncovers a tangled web of old secrets leading back to the Vietnam War.
- Where Echoes Live – Sharon McCone has been asked by a former colleague to look into the plans of a large corporation to reopen a gold mine near the Nevada border that could seriously endanger the ecosystem of the area. Following a trail of bizarre happenings, disappearances, and a dead body, McCone’s trail leads her to a Hong Kong industrialist . . . and a killer bent on large-scale destruction.
- Pennies On a Dead Woman’s Eyes – Feeling guilty for testifying against her mother more than thirty years ago in a trial for the murder of a wild San Francisco debutante, a young woman asks Sharon McCone to help reopen the case.
- Wolf in the Shadows – San Francisco sleuth Sharon McCone faces her greatest challenge when her boyfriend disappears while delivering a $2 million ransom for a kidnapped researcher.
- Till the Butchers Cut Him Down – T.J. Gordon has made millions as a corporate troubleshooter who creates profits and enemies while reviving failed businesses. From the moment he whisks P.I. Sharon McCone off in his helicopter, complaining of threats and sabotage, her life is changed. The trail of his past leads McCone from a Nevada tourist trap to a Pennsylvania steel town.
- A Wild and Lonely Place – Investigating a terrorist bombing at the Consulate of an Arab Emirate, Sharon is thinking only of the million-dollar-reward–until she meets the consul general’s daughter. When the girl disappears, Sharon risks everything to save her.
- The Broken Promise Land – Someone is bent on getting revenge on Ricky Savage, Sharon McCone’s brother-in-law, and a two-time Grammy Award-winning country singer. The danger escalates as Sharon realizes that more than one person has been playing underhanded games–and that the music industry is truly a broken promise land.
- Both Ends of the Night – McCone’s flying instructor Matty asks for help when her lover goes missing. Then, during an airshow, Matty’s plane suddenly crashes. Convinced this is not an accident, McCone follows a trail of leads and confronts the man who ordered Matty’s death.
- While Other People Sleep – San Francisco P.I. Sharon McCone suffers as an imposter takes over her credit cards and even her home, but when she is framed for a murder she did not commit, Sharon pulls out all the stops to find the woman responsible.
- A Walk Through the Fire – While investigating sabotage on the set of a controversial film in Hawaii, San Francisco sleuth Sharon McCone, in her latest mystery, finds a violent world of long-buried family secrets, drug dealing, political machinations, and murder.
- Listen to the Silence – In the aftermath of her father’s death, Sharon McCone uncovers a family secret – she was adopted. She now faces her most urgent quest – to find her birth parents. To her dismay, this takes her to the heart of a feud where murder, undisturbed for years, is now overlaid with fresh violence.
- Dead Midnight – Struggling to deal with her brother’s suicide, Sharon McCone takes on a wrongful-death case that hits all too close to home in which a grieving family is suing a company for the suicide of a young employee, but as her investigation leads her into the cutthroat, high-stakes world of computers, she discovers that there may have been more to the death than meets the eye.
- The Dangerous Hour – One minute Sharon McCone is riding high with her detective agency expanding, her bank account growing, and her only “problem” is a marriage proposal from her lover, Hy Ripinsky, that’s kicking up her longtime fears of commitment. The next minute, in the time it takes for a single phone call to bring bad news, she stands to lose everything.
- Vanishing Point – McCone is hired to investigate one of San Luis Obispo County’s most puzzling cold cases. A generation ago, Laurel Greenwood, a housewife, and artist, inexplicably vanished, leaving her young daughter alone. Now, new evidence suggests that the missing woman may have led a strange double life. But before McCone can penetrate the tangled mystery, she must first solve a second disappearance that of her client, the now grown daughter of Laurel Greenwood.
- The Ever-Running Man – Sharon McCone is hired by her husband’s security firm to track down “the ever-running man,” a shadowy figure who has been leaving explosive devices at their various offices. She doesn’t have to search for long. When she narrowly escapes an explosion at the security firm’s San Francisco offices, McCone catches a glimpse of his retreating figure. The ever-running man is dangerously close.
- Burn Out – Traumatized by a recent life-or-death investigation, Sharon McCone flees to her ranch in California’s high desert country to contemplate her future. That’s where murder and traces of violence at a deserted resort lead her across the desert and into Nevada, and finally to a remote and isolated ranch, where the danger lies closer than she expects…
- Locked In – 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.
- Coming Back – As Sharon struggles to regain control over her body, she wants everything to go back to normal but realizes that it may not be possible to return to her old life. But when Sharon’s friend from physical therapy goes missing, she must call upon those closest to her to find out the truth behind the disappearance.
- City of Whispers – Sharon McCone receives an e-mail asking for help from her emotionally disturbed half-brother Darcy Blackhawk. She replies… but gets no response. As Sharon digs deeper, she discovers that Darcy sent his message from an Internet café in San Francisco. Sensing that her brother is in terrible danger, Sharon begins a search for him throughout the city.
- Looking for Yesterday – Three years ago, Caro Warrick was acquitted for the murder of her best friend Amelia Bettencourt, but the lingering doubts of everyone around Caro are affecting her life. Sharon McCone is confident that she can succeed where other detectives have failed, but when Caro is brutally beaten right at Sharon’s doorstep, the investigation takes on a whole new course.
- The Night Searchers – When new clients Jay and Camilla Givens come to Sharon McCone with Camilla’s stories of devil worshippers performing human sacrifices in San Francisco, the detective is skeptical. However, when she discovers that Jay is involved with the treasure hunting group The Night Searchers, she starts looking into what exactly he and the other participants are up to after dark.
- Someone Always Knows – Settled into their new home after they lost their house in a fire, and fully established in their new shared offices, private investigator Sharon McCone and her business partner husband, Hy, are finally starting to feel comfortable. That calm is shattered when Hy’s former colleague, Gage Renshaw – a shady troublemaker whom they presumed dead – reappears.
- The Color of Fear – When a knock on the door in the middle of the night wakes Sharon, she’s wholly unprepared for the horrifying news: her father has been the victim of a vicious attack. Elwood had been visiting Sharon for the holidays when he was set upon by a mob of angry young men. Now he lies in a coma, hovering between life and death.
- The Breakers – Sharon gets a request from her former neighbors the Curleys. Their daughter, Chelle, hasn’t answered their calls in over a week. A house flipper, Chelle has been living at her latest rehab project: a nightclub known as the Breakers, now converted into a run-down apartment building. There’s something sinister about the quirky space, and Sharon quickly discovers why.
- Ice and Stone – When the bodies of two Indigenous women are found in the wilderness of northern California, it is only the latest horrific development in a string of similar crimes in the area. Despite all evidence to the contrary, officials rule the deaths isolated incidents, which soon join the ranks of countless other unsolved cases quickly dismissed by law enforcement. In a town where too many injustices are tolerated or brushed under the rug, only a few people remain who refuse to let a killer walk free. But Private Investigator Sharon McCone is one of those few. She is hired by an organization called Crimes against Indigenous Sisters to go undercover in Meruk County—a community rife with secrets, lies, and corruption—to expose the truth.
Short Story Collections
- The McCone Files – From the death of a clown in Diablo Valley to the disappearance of a young socialite on the Golden Gate Bridge, from the murder of a teenage gang leader in San Francisco to the drowning of an aged Japanese herb-gatherer, and from streets filled with juvenile runaways to the quietness of a mausoleum… Published in 1994.
- McCone and Friends – Contains three stories told by McCone herself, as well as a novella and a short story narrated by the agency’s investigator Rae Kelleher, a story from the viewpoint of its office manager Ted Smalley, an investigation conducted by McCone’s nephew Mick Savage, and one by her long-term lover Hy Ripinsky. Published in 1999.
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