by Margaret Maron
(Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-29498-9)
From the books cover...
“A small caliber slug sends a prominent lawyer into permanent retirement amid a bonfire of blackmail papers- but the “respectable” practice hid a capricious, greed-driven attorney with more than one habeas corpus in the closet. Sigrid Harald finds a filing cabinet full of suspects brimming with motive...a snug 30's literatus with a wicked past and a pile of bills...a long-dead movie star...the drug addict who kidnapped a baby to replace a dead one...and a Cinderella story with a different twist...You will forgive me for the the book's own description, but rarely do I see someone who likes using “...” more than I do, so I had to.
Now Sigrid must wade through a flurry of forged documents, trust funds, and contested annuities to find the one missing file...the one marked “M” for murder.”
I have only read one other book by Maron, Sand Sharks, which is one of the books in her Deborah Knott series set in North Carolina, and I must say that this book was so different in tone and feel that it was difficult to remember it was written by the same author. This time the series is set in NYC...which is a good thing... and our protagonist is police detective Sigrid Harald. A lawyer has been killed and the killer left behind a pile of half burned file, the blue files of the title. It seems he was doing a nasty little side business in blackmail, so there is no shortage of interesting suspects.
As to my comment about the tone of this book. This book was published in 1985, the third in this series...and it feels like it, which is not necessarily a great thing. Maron's style in this book seems much smaller, more quiet, less descriptive, almost a little dark somehow. On the plus side, Sigrid is an interesting character, even if we do not learn a great deal about her in this book, and as I said, I am always a fan of books set in NYC. The whole little sub-plot about her difficulties finding a new apartment in the city was quite nice.
Bottom line, a nice solid little mystery, well written, pretty interesting if not outstanding among books in the genre.