THE BUGHOUSE AFFAIR by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

bughousePUB. INFO: Forge, January/November 2013
FORMAT: Hardcover, Paperback, E-book
GENRE: Historical Mystery
SETTING: California, USA, 1894
SERIES: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery, book 1

From Publisher: In The Bughouse Affair, the first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations. Sabina's case involves the hunt for a ruthless lady "dip" who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables at Chutes Amusement Park and other crowded places.

Quincannon, meanwhile, is after a slippery housebreaker who targets the homes of wealthy residents, following a trail that leads him from the infamous Barbary Coast to an oyster pirate's lair to a Tenderloin parlor house known as the Fiddle Dee Dee. The two cases eventually connect in surprising fashion, but not before two murders and assorted other felonies complicate matters even further. And not before the two sleuths are hindered, assisted, and exasperated by the bughouse Sherlock Holmes.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a quick, decent read. I like that there were two mysteries going on that turned out to be connected and John and Sabina each got to work on one and came together at the end to compare notes. Both mysteries were interesting to me and it was a surprise to me who the real killer(s) was/were.

John's a bit arrogant and normally I like that in the male lead but I didn't like it in him. He was clearly jealous of Mr. Holmes' superior detective skills. I'm not sure how I feel about Sabina. With no backstory on them I feel as if I don't 'know' them and feel like I accidentally skipped the first few chapters of the book or something. Hardly any backstory was given on them other than they've known each other for three years and that she's a widow. I need to know all about lead characters. I like that both of them weren't above illegal activities by breaking into homes to look for clues. It seemed a bit out of character for Sabina to do that.

As for the Sherlock Holmes impostor, I don't like that the authors added a famous fictional character to their own story. I do like the idea of a meddling detective sticking his nose in their business but they should have created their own original character. Seems like he was in a race with John to solve the murders. John met him at someone's home. He doesn't know him at all yet proceeds to tell him all about his findings as an investigator, tells him what he's learned about the burglar. That's unprofessional and doesn't make sense to me. The impostor could have been the culprit for all John knew. That's like a police detective telling strangers about a case he's working on or other nondetectives involved in the same case.

I look forward to reading the next in the series, The Spook Lights Affair, and seeing if Sabina ever gives in to John's advances toward her. It would be nice if this series turns into historical romantic suspense.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

No comments: