Review: The Spook Lights Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

Description (from cover):

‘In 1895 San Francisco, young debutantes don’t commit suicide at festive parties, particularly not under the watchful eye of Sabina Carpenter. But Virginia St. Ives evidently did, leaping from the foggy parapet at Sutro Heights in a shimmer of ghostly unnatural light. Then her body disappeared, creating an even more serious problem for the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services.
Sabina hadn’t wanted to take the assignment, but her partner, John Quincannon, insisted that it would serve as their entree into the world of the city’s ultrarich and powerful–and generate a mother lode of lucrative jobs. That meant money, and Quincannon loved the almighty dollar. Which was why, on his own, he was hunting the bandit who’d robbed the Wells Fargo office of thirty-five thousand dollars. The 10 percent finder’s fee was a potent lure.
Working their separate cases (while Sabina holds John off with one light hand), the detectives give readers a tour of The City, the way it was. From the infamous Barbary Coast to the expensive Tenderloin gaming houses and brothels frequented by wealthy men, John follows a danger-laden trail to unmask the murderous perpetrators of the Wells Fargo robbery. Meanwhile, Sabina works her wiles on friends and relatives of the vanished debutante until the pieces of the puzzle start falling in place.
Virginia’s erstwhile swain lives in Carville-by-the-Sea, a ramshackle collection of old trolley cars inhabited by the well-to-do bohemians. It is there that more spook lights come into play, and Sabina’s and John’s cases unexpectedly intersect–with the help of an oddly disguised gent, the shrewd “crackbrain” who believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes.’

My thoughts:

After reading the first book in this series, I had high hopes for this one. Nevertheless, they were not met. This book was disoriented and lacking in quality that the first had in droves. The conclusion was slip-shod and the mysteries’ supposed link was unbelievable. I was highly disappointed with this one as it barely made sense and was a complete waste of time. I’m glad it was only 250 or so pages, as I don’t know if I could have read much more than that. John got on my nerves as he was so focused on money and it was his driving factor. I mean come on. I swear that it mentioned the Wells Fargo robbery reward a million times. Yes, we get it. He wants the money and that’s all he cares about.
Sabina’s mystery wasn’t clearly described. So a girl commits suicide by jumping off a tower. Nothing in the conclusion explains the events. Random people die and aren’t linked clearly to the solution. Just a huge jumble of clues and events and nothing that fits together in a way that makes sense to the reader. If this is the product of award-winning authors, I am in shock. I expect more in my mysteries and the setting is really what drew me to this series in the first place. The first place used the setting to its advantage and showcased historical San Francisco in it. This one doesn’t really acclimate the reader to the wonder that was San Francisco in the 1890’s.
This was a majorly disappointing read. I am half tempted to skip the rest of the series if this is the way the books will be. I can’t read books that absolutely make no sense. Maybe it made sense to the authors in their head, but on paper and to the reader it is utter chaos. All-in-all, not worth the time to read this one. So glad I got this one for the library and didn’t actually purchase it. I would have been even more upset then.

Overall Rating: 1.5

Title:  The Spooklights Affair
Author:  Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
Series:  Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #2
Publisher:  Forge Books
Publication Date:  December 3, 2013
Pages:  254 
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.

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