Review: The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

Description (from cover):

‘In this first of a new series of spirited historical mysteries set in 1890’s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake two apparently unrelated investigations.

Sabina’s case involves the hunt for a ruthless pickpocket who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables. She strikes most often at an amusement park, in torchlit pitchman’s bazaar, and among the crowds along the evening Cocktail Route.

Quincannon is after a slippery housebreaker who targets the homes of the city’s wealthy residents. Following the trail leads Quincannon to the infamous Barbary Coast, an oyster pirate’s lair, and a Tenderloin house of joy.

The cast of characters also includes a pair of receivers of stolen merchandise, a retired lady ‘dip,’ an alcoholic lawyer and his wife, a mysterious carriage driver–and a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes.

The two cases eventually connect in surprising fashion, but not before matters are complicated by two murders, assorted felonies, and the constant interference of the bughouse Sherlock–a shrewd ‘crackbrain’ who hinders, exasperates, and nearly outshines both Sabina and Quincannon with clever detective work of his own.

My thoughts:

I just wrapped up reading this book and trying to formulate my thoughts about this novel seem almost impossible at the moment. I think that is because it is late and I am a little bit tired. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this novel. A great read packed with action, likeable characters, a Sherlock Holmes ‘imposter’ and not one, but two mysteries. What lover of historical mysteries could ask for more? Not this girl, that’s for sure. I picked up this novel for two reasons: one the time period is one that fascinates me and it is a historical mystery. Simply put. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I have never even heard of these authors before, but let’s just say that I am now a loyal fan of this series.

Sabina Carpenter is a widow, an ex-Pinkerton spy and a woman who doesn’t let anything get in her way. She is heroine that is strong-minded and won’t take no for an answer. I really like these types of characters in my historical mystery books, even if these type of women were rarely seen in that time period. It is nice to be able to imagine that a woman could get away with the things Sabina does in this novel. John Quincannon is a tad bit arrogant and thinks that he is the master of solving mysteries. He doesn’t appreciate this ‘Sherlock Holmes’ encroaching on his territory and makes it a competition to solve the mystery before the alleged great detective. He is more of a act now, think later type of character and the partnership between him and Sabina evens out perfectly. They compliment each other well and make solving mysteries seem so much fun.

I was left guessing the solution to the two mysteries until the very end. There was a nice little twist that I didn’t see coming. This is a quick and light mystery and can be read easily in one sitting. I found it to be quite the page turner and I had a hard time putting it down to go to sleep. I will be continuing with this series because I like the characters, the historical setting and the writing of the authors. The story flows easily and captivates the reader from page one. A great read for historical mystery lovers who like kick-ass characters and a good story.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  The Bughouse Affair
Author:  Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini
Series:  Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #1
Publisher:  Forge Books
Publication Date:  January 8, 2013
Pages:  272
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s