POINT DECEPTION by Marcia Muller
Mysterious Press - July 2001
ISBN: 0892966904 - Hardcover
Police Procedural

Reviewed by Barbara Buhrer, MyShelf.com
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A woman stands by her disabled car on a lonely highway hoping some motorist passing by will stop, but no one does. When her body is found floating in the river, raped and murdered, many who passed her are stricken with guilt. When two women disappear, suppressed fears and suspicions of the townspeople emerge. Thirteen years ago 8 people had been killed in nearby Cascade Canyon. The murders were never solved.

Soledad County sheriff's deputy Rhoda Swift is assigned to investigate. She is fighting private demons. She was the first on the scene of the mass murder 13 years ago when she was on the force only a few months, and feels that her inexperience contributed to the murders being unsolved. Also on the scene is New York writer Guy Newberry, whose best selling books have studied other troubled towns. He is researching Signal Port for his next book. He also has a private demon; his guilt about the death of his wife, Diana. At first Rhoda feels that Guy's probing will jeopardize her investigations, but gradually realizes that there is more likelihood of success with collaboration. The fear of the townspeople seems justified when the present troubles appear to be rooted in the past murders.

This is a thriller. The suspense begins with the first chapter and continues to build. The plot is well-constructed and complex. The characters are real people, made interesting by sketches of their background. The atmosphere of fear and distrust in the community is well drawn. The story is told with two parts: one part the voice of the murdered woman, and the other that of Rhoda and Guy, which makes it most intriguing. This is one of Muller's masterpieces.

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