Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini
In 1894 San Francisco, Qunicannon has been in business with Sabrina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton detective, for three years. Although they're business partners, he would like to be more, but the attractive widow has refused his advances. She does see through his tough exterior, though, to see the sensitive man. But, a recent news story by Ambrose Bierce finds Quincannon blustery. Bierce proclaims it a lie when a San Francisco visitor claims to be the late Sherlock Holmes who reportedly died three years earlier at Reichenbach Falls. Quincannon doesn't believe that Holmes was the greatest detective, and he's even angrier when the claimant foils Quincannon's attempt to catch a burglar. The man's pontifications only convince Quincannon that the man is nuts.
Quincannon is attempting to catch a burglar who is stealing from customers of the Great Western insurance company. Sabrina Carpenter has her own case, the search for a female pickpocket who has been targeting male customers at a local amusement park. The two cases seem to have nothing in common, but as the two detectives deal with escapes and murder, they find their searches leading in similar directions. Their cases may be frustrating, but not as frustrating as trying to deal with the "scrawny gibbering imitation" of Sherlock Holmes.
It's evident why Muller and Pronzini are masters. They deftly handle the historic San Francisco, the mystery, two fascinating private investigators, and the interesting addition of Sherlock Holmes. The Bughouse Affair is a serious story with comic moments. Anyone interested in historical mysteries or Sherlock Holmes pastiches will appreciate the latest effort of this wonderful team. Here's hoping we won't have to wait years for the next Carpenter and Quincannon mystery.
Marcia Muller's website is www.marciamuller.com
The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. Forge. 2013. ISBN 9780765331748 (hardcover), 276p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.