Cover Image: Circle in the Water

Circle in the Water

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Member Reviews

Circle in the Water is the latest entry in Marcia Muller's decades-old series featuring private investigator Sharon McCone. McCone and her husband and business partner Hy Ripinsky now reign over a large firm that provides domestic and international security services, although Hy was called away several times in the story to other US states to negotiate with people who were holding victims and police at bay; this made no logical sense to me as there could not have been NO other trained negotiators who weren't on or closer to the scene. But back to the novel. In this installment, McCone and company are hired to find out who is causing vandalism on private streets in the city, which, of course, leads to a more complex case. The action felt forced and McCone seemed to rely on her highly trained and loyal staff to do carry out mundane tasks that were well below their capabilities. Compared with Sara Paretsky's long-standing heroine V. I. Warshawski, who vigorously pursues a case mostly on her own in the new (2024) novel Pay Dirt, McCone seems much less hungry to be engaged in the case, and, in fact, to really be engaged in the case, and thus the book seems short and forced. McCone fans will want to read Circle in the Water, nonetheless. Readers new to the series may have more difficulty identifying the many characters who have been part of the team for what seems like forever. This series may have run its course. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

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Very good addition to the Sharon McCone series. All the regulars are here and the story is a good one. As I was reading, it was as though the pages were turning themselves and wouldn’t let me stop. Fast reading.

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Circle in the Water: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller finds Sharon working a complicated case involving private street ownership. In San Franciso, there are more than 200 streets that are owned by private individuals or entities. As these streets are not city property, they are lucrative targets for land speculators and others.

As the book opens, it is almost midnight Halloween, and Sharon McCone is on a stake out. Being a co-owner of the agency with her husband, Hy Ripinsky, who is currently overseas, she is out in the rain so that she does not have to fool with trick-or-treaters and somebody else does not miss a party or spending time with their kids this dark night. The rain fits her mood. One that she has been in for months now. A mood that she can’t really explain to herself or others that have noticed.

She is on Rowan Court trying to prevent another vandalism attack. McCone & Ripinsky International has been hired by the wealthy homeowners on the street to stop a rash of vandalism that has been happening to their homes and vehicles. Not just stop it, but identify the culprits and why they are doing it. One of their members has been reaching out to other folks and have discovered that this sort of thing is happening on other private streets, rich and poor, across the city.

Soon McCone finds things are linked across various neighborhoods. Events start to move forward and become deadly.

Circle in the Water: A Sharon McCone Mystery is a complicated and often slow-moving read. At least a third of the book, if not more, consists of reminisces of previous cases and things that happened to McCone, Hy, and many others in the past, and an acknowledgment and recognition of how far all those involved have come in the here and now. While it never is formally expressed here that this is the last book of the long running series, it is certainly read that way to this reader.

It is also a good read. The case is complicated and chugs along at a semi steady pace between the many memories of the past. If Circle in the Water: A Sharon McCone Mystery is the final book, it ends the series well.


My ARC reading copy came from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, via NetGalley with no expectation of a review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2024

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McCone has been hired to track down who is targeting the private streets of San Francisco. This is a short book. It felt more like a novella than a full length novel. The epilogue also makes me wonder if McCone and Rypinsky might be retiring soon. But, back to this installment in a favorite long running series. Other than feeling like it was too short, the ending was too neat and tidy and fell together much too easily. I wish we'd gotten about 40 more pages with more of the conclusion and unwind. I don't feel like any of the stories brought up during the course of the book were fully developed. To me, this book felt like the Christmas card letter you get from someone you used to communicate with regularly and now only get annual updates. I guess I'm being whiny because this is my 36th adventure with McCone and I want to spend more time with her!

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Circle in the Water by Marcia Muller is the latest Sharon McCone mystery which centers around all the little know privately owned streets in San Francisco. Sharon and her company take on a case of vandalism for a homeowners group of one of these streets, they end up with much more than petty crime. As usual, this book is a good read, as is all the series. One becomes invested in Hy and Sharon and all their relatives and friends.

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Several areas of privately owned streets in San Francisco have joined together to hire Sharon McCone to find the culprits of pranks happening on their streets. As the pranks get more dangerous, Sharon is almost killed, and one of the home owners is killed. The case becomes quite complicated, and Sharon has her work cut out for her as she searches out the person who is responsible.

I have been reading this series for many years, and am amazed at Muller's ability to keep coming up with great plots! I thank Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with an ARC.

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This was a great book. I loved every paragraph, every sentence and every word of this masterpiece! I read it in 12 hours, which is a lot for me to do! It had everything and more laid out in the novel! I sure hope There is more to come from this author! I am totally hooked!

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Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the copy of Circle In The Water by Marcia Muller. I didn't realize until I finished this book that the author has been writing this series since 1977! This is a cozy mystery set in San Francisco, and I loved the local color. If you're looking for an easy, fun, and fast read this book is for you.

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Years ago, I read the Sharon McCone mysteries regularly. She was one of the first fictional tough female PIs. Then school, work, life interfered and I got away from reading them. It’s been a while since I picked one up and Sharon has come a long way from her first book in 1977 when she was a San Francisco PI, on staff at a legal cooperative. She is married and in partnership with her husband, has her own agency with staff and resources, including a plane. There are 30+ books in the series.

In this case, there has been vandalism on some of the privately owned streets (who knew some were privately owned?) in the city and Sharon has been hired to find the culprit. Her investigation puts her in danger as she doggedly pursues the truth

Not a heart racing thriller, this is more a solid mystery procedural. It is a fast read and taps into some of the present difficulties in SF with housing prices and homelessness.

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I enjoyed this installment but wished there was more of a mystery. I think this series may have run its course, but it was nice to revisit Sharon.

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This was an amazing book. I highly recommend it to everyone. Great characters and a great plot. I will be looking for more books by this author. The book is superbly written. Lots of twists, turns and shocking turns of events. Quickly becoming a go to author for me!!!! If you love to read a book and be shocked by the ending then check out this author for sure. You will love this book and this author

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Another good book in the series. Plot and characters interesting. I recommend reading series from the beginning

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After 47 years in the PI business, Sharon McCone continues to solve crimes in San Francisco. The first McCone novel, Edwin of the Iron Shoes, was published in 1977, and it is generally accepted that along with Sarah Paretsky and Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller first established the hard-boiled female PI with her introduction of Sharon McCone.

Muller published her historical novel just before the other women, and indeed she deserves the honor of being the first to start the movement of tough female investigators. Circle in the Water is Sharon McCone’s 36th outing in the streets of San Francisco and unlike the rest of us, Sharon has only aged a handful of years!

Muller still writes in a hard-boiled, traditional style after all these years about her protagonist, who now has left the All Souls Cooperative and has an Investigation firm of her own. In Circle in the Water, Muller again dives deep into the character of San Francisco and details the unique traits of the private streets in the city which are being vandalized. Soon the pranks turn deadly when one of the inhabitants turns up dead.

The reader learns a lot about the more than 200 private streets in the city; many are alleyways but some are gorgeous and exclusive neighborhoods. Apparently, given the real estate values in San Francisco, people are willing to kill to conquer the unique market. And as usual, McCone is on the streets getting knocked out and shot at, even with a company full of staff investigators.

Muller is comfortable reading as you know the style and pretty much what is going to happen. The author is 78 years old now — I am not hoping for something other in her novels than what I have always gotten. Quick, hard-boiled stories with an obvious ending. I read Muller not for the inspiring prose or the clever new plot lines but for the years and years of good solid mysteries she has given the reader. I have enjoyed following Sharon McCone from her first days as an investigator to owning her company and finally getting married and settling down. I sometimes wonder if I should have counted how many times she has been hospitalized after 47 years of danger! I do expect McCone to live to fight another day. My rating 3 of 5.

This ARC title was provided by Netgalley.com at no cost, and I am providing an unbiased review. Circle in the Water will be published on April 23, 2024.

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Another great mystery in this series, Marcia Muller does not disappoint! Her stories are like a gift you unwrap one layer at a time.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

I enjoy thinking how authors develop their stories, and there must be a tale behind this real estate dream of exclusive San Francisco enclaves targeted for crimes ranging from mischief to murder...

I was excited to discover a new Sharon McCone mystery, and Marcia Muller is a highly engaging and entertaining mystery writer.

I greatly enjoyed this entry to a winning series, check it out!

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Sharon McCone is undertaking vandalism in SF which leads to murder and corruption. This is part of a series. Not great as a standalone as there is some background of characters that is pertinent. That being said, I haven't read any of her recent novels but caught up quickly. Lots of historical background that could be alleviated. Not crazy about the inclusion of homelessness either. I can watch the news! It was a quick read but I'm not sure if it was one of Muller's best. Thank you to NetGalley for the arc copy.

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I loved it! I've been reading this series from the start so I've known and loved these characters for decades. McCone is actually near her old territory for much of her investigation which dredges up many nostalgic moments. It had me dwell on my own memories of my past when I was reading those early novels! Excellent series!

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I’m a huge Sharon McCone fan, so of course I loved catching up with the gang. I found this a little thin. McCone investigates mysterious happenings in some privately owned streets in San Francisco. Of course, murder and plot twists follow.

McCone fans will enjoy it, but definitely not a good stand-alone or first read.

Thank you Netgalley for a visit with Sharon.

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I've read them all! Sharon just keeps finding ways to get into hot water in the city by the bay. Another great story involving land deeds (she's always learning some historical treasure). Fast read!

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3.5 stars - I rounded up - for this book from one of my all-time favorite series. I have been with Sharon McCone from the beginning and this book felt like a homecoming as so many regulars made appearances. I loved the ending where we learn where most of our favorites end up - it does feel like it was the final book although I hope not and look forward to many more. The storyline for this book was just OK to me as it was a bit disjointed but I did like how things played out, especially bringing in all of the operatives. The book was comfortable and nostalgic but all in the best way. I appreciate receiving an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley.

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