Book Review by Debbie Winkler
Target Age Group: adults
Private eye Sharon McCone was hired by All Souls Cooperative, a San Francisco legal services plan, to discover who was vandalizing a small street of antique shops when one of the antique dealers was found murdered in her own shop. Sharon had no idea who had killed Joan Albritton, a pleasant older woman whose main fault was talking to the dressmaker’s dummy, the stuffed German shepherd, and the little boy mannequin she kept in her shop, but she didn’t feel confident in the police’s ability to discover the killer. Especially after she met the unpleasantly patronizing Lieutenant Marcus who was in charge of the case. Uncertain of whether she would be paid for her work or not, but refusing to allow Joan Albritton’s killer to go free, Sharon starts her investigation.
Suspects abound, with Charlie, the junkman who ran the shop across the street from Joan’s, at the forefront. Charlie was Joan’s former lover, recently jilted for a wealthier man, and he was the one who had discovered the body and called the police. Then there was Cara Ingalls, a real estate mogul with ice running through her veins. She made no secret of the fact that she was glad that Joan was gone so that she could buy the land and force the antique dealers out. Of course, Cara was not the only one trying to buy the land so that motive could apply to any number of real estate speculators. And then there was the slimy bond bailsman and the slick “antique-style” dealer who kept popping up at every corner. Not to mention the puzzling Lieutenant Marcus, who was grateful for Sharon’s help and then pushing her aside the next. As Sharon takes more and more risks, she comes closer to solving Joan’s death, but she also comes closer to being murdered herself…
Edwin of the Iron Shoes is the first Sharon McCone Mystery and it was just okay. The book was well written, but the story was pretty simplistic and the characterization was pretty inconsistent. Sharon McCone is billed as this hard-boiled female private investigator, but I thought that she was pretty stupid myself. She took a lot of unnecessary risks and managed to solve the case more by being the only one around then following the clues properly. Also, I know that this book was written quite some time ago (I have the 1977 edition), but I have a hard time believing that the police ever invited female private investigators to look over the crime scene while the body was still there. With a stronger plot, more believe characters and some additional detail, this mystery would have been much better. Hopefully the series improves as it goes along…
This is an old-school mystery with a hardboiled private investigator. There are descriptions of dead people and death-defying leaps of logic, but nothing explicit or gory. There are no CSI-like descriptions of any type of fluids or cryptic clues, just a lot of talking to people and making deductions (whether mentally or in a notebook). Safe and clean. Recommended for ages 14 and up.