City of Sharks

Written by Kelli Stanley
Review by Diane Scott Lewis

Miranda Corbie works as a private investigator in San Francisco in the months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. She takes on her last case before heading into the Blitz of England to search for her mother. Louise Crowley is a beautiful secretary who works for a local publisher. Someone sent her threatening letters, then tried to push her in front of a street car. After her boss is found murdered, Louise is a suspect.

Miranda delves into who would want him dead. Louise is caught up in lies and a notorious connection tied to Alcatraz prison. Did she kill her boss to steal a “tell-all” on the prison? Miranda moves through society and sleaze to find out.  Famous authors of the time, and columnist Herb Caen pepper the story. I wonder at the historical context: Olivier and Leigh never filmed a movie about Horatio Hornblower. And William Saroyan’s hometown is Fresno, not San Francisco.

The writing is choppy, but Miranda is an intriguing character, a female PI—with a shady past— in a world of men. A noir story in the style of Dashiell Hammett.