Ice and Stone by Marcia Muller

Ice and Stone, the 34th installment in Marcia Muller's prolific Sharon McCone series, begins with a disclaimer from the author. Muller writes that this novel was written well before the historic and tumultuous 2020, and as such, there is no mention of the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly, the strife of police brutality and the undeniable impact of the Black Lives Matter movement was not on the forefront of Muller's mind as she concocted this story. Nevertheless, readers will no doubt find the themes of racism and prejudice to permeate the fabric of the book. As I read this note, I was struck by just how long racism has infected our country. For this book to be conceived before the historic year that brought the struggle of racial tensions and systemic racism front and center into most of our lives only further illustrates just how long this issue has been part of our existence. 

Normally a murder of any kind rocks a community. Surely the remains of two indigenous women in the wilderness of northern California would spark some kind of concern. Sadly though, this incident is just another in a long line of similar cases in the area. Each time investigators are called in, and each time they are ruled as isolated events. Despite all evidence to the contrary, officials seemed satisfied to believe that the murders of indigenous people in the same area have nothing to do with each other. They are quickly brushed off and fall away into the long line of cold cases. 

Private investigator Sharon McCone refuses to let these cases rest. When most other officials are perfectly okay with letting these murders be brushed aside, McCone is eager to see justice be served. We learn that she's recently discovered more about her own heritage and has found a kinship with the women who have been murdered. She is hired by a group of native women to investigate these horrific crimes and finally put the matter to rest. McCone begins an undercover operation to investigate the truth behind the crimes, an operation that sees her unearth secrets of the community that she's planted herself within. She'll have to work fast though. You see, she fits the exact profile of the very women she's been sent in to investigate the killings of. If she doesn't find justice soon, she may find herself as the killer's next victim. 

This was the first book by Marcia Muller that I've read, and I don't think that you need to have read the other 33 books in the series to fully enjoy this one. That being said, I do think it would be interesting to read some of the earlier books to see how the main character has evolved over time, especially since the first novel was released in 1977. Muller writes a compelling murder mystery filled will small-town politics, questionable characters, and racially driven crimes. I shared in McCone's frustration with the authorities more comfortable looking the other way than dealing with the reality of the bold racism that was motivating the crimes within their jurisdiction. For her part, Muller expertly balances the social commentary with a breakneck mystery that equally kept the pages turning while taking on a deeper meaning. Through the lens of the events that have unfolded over the last couple of years, I found her story to take on an even more urgent and timely tone. When a book like Ice and Stone allows you to be entertained while also commenting upon larger issues, you really can't go wrong. 

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads

(2021, 41)

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14 Responses to “Ice and Stone by Marcia Muller”

  1. I haven't read this author before, but this mystery does sound like a good one. It's sad though how often murders of indigenous women go uninvestigated and unsolved in real life.

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    1. It really shined a light on an issue that I wasn't that familiar with.

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  2. That sounds like it would be a good read.

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    1. Having never read her work before, I didn't know what to expect. It was a pleasant surprise!

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  3. There are over 5700 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) across the USA and Canada - it's a serious and heart-breaking problem. </3

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    1. That number is staggering! I didn't realize it was such a problem. I'm glad books like this one are doing there part to make more people aware.

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    2. I follow Delores Schilling on Twitter - she and her husband Vince do a lot of work to raise awareness on this & other issues facing Native peoples. You should check them out if you have time :)

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    3. I will have to give her page a follow. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I do like when a mystery can be entertaining and relevant to the larger issues we now face. I'm always on the hunt for a good mystery and I like the sound of this one. I'll check it out!

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    1. I do too. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

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  5. That is an incredible run - 34! This author has been writing this series for almost my whole life.

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    1. Right? It is an astounding run for a series!

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  6. Weird that I've never heard of this author who's been writing for so long. I'm always on the lookout for good mystery series, so I'll have to take a closer look at this one. I do have some OCD tendencies where series are concerned, though—I HAVE to start with book one even if you don't really HAVE to start with book one!

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    1. I usually try to start with the first book too. That's the problem with series. I never feel like I have enough time to faithfully read them.

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