Friday, March 22, 2013

The Bughouse Affair

 The Bughouse Affair, by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, is the first in their Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery series. This series is set in the nineteenth century in San Francisco and stars Sabina Carpenter (a former Pinkerton operative) and John Quincannon (an ex-Secret Service agent).

The time period allows for an interesting backdrop to the story. We get to see the Barbary Coast as it was at that time. There are even pirates and what we today would call whore houses, but back then were called houses of joy. And, yes, of course there are murders and robbery and thievery, and even piracy. There's even a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. But how can he be Sherlock Holmes? Holmes is dead … isn't he?

Carpenter and Quincannon remind me of Sherlock and Watson. Carpenter and Quincannon are working separate cases and don't work together often, but they employ the same methods of detection and deducing. When their separate cases come together, they join forces to solve both of the cases they were working.

I especially enjoyed seeing a female detective on equal footing of the male, which I suspect would have been unusual in this time period. The story and the characters are believable and strong. It doesn't take long to pick up on the lingo of the time and it's fun to trek along with them through the streets and bowels of early day San Francisco. They go and search many places that I, a wimp, would have avoided.

This has the makings of a new great series. So, if you like historical mysteries, get The Bughouse Affair and get in on it from the beginning.


I give The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini a rating of Hel-of-a-Story.
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by a publicist with Tor/Forge. I was asked if I would like to read the book. I said yes. I was not asked to write a review. But I did. I have never met Marcia Muller. Nor have I ever met Bill Pronzini. I have never met John Quincannon, nor have I met Sabina Carpenter. Okay, the last two are characters, not real people, although they seemed real as I read their story. In fact, I think perhaps Sabina and I are related. Cousins, once or thrice removed. I mean, we must be. Carpenter was my maiden name. If Muller and Pronzini ever set one of the series' books in Austin, I'll invite Sabina over for tea and barbecue. That's what cousins do.


  1. Looks a bit steampunkish on the it? Sounds like a fun story--and the debate over whether Sherlock is dead or not is unique, for sure! Love your disclaimer, as always!

    1. I don't think so, Elizabeth, although I'm not totally clear on what SteamPunk is.

  2. That does sound like a great start to a new series!

    1. I think it will be. If you like the Sherlock way of solving crime and you like that time period, you'd probably like this. It's a nice interaction between two investigators.

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  4. The cover looks like its from the new Oz movie (similar costumes). Your disclaimers always bring a smile. Have a wonderful week-end.

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Ann. I hadn't thought about that new Oz movie! It does have a similar look, at least from what I've seen on TV.

  6. A great disclaimer, as always! I like the idea of a female detective in that time period. I would think it'd make for some interesting situations.

  7. Nice review, Helen!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Mary Montague Sikes


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