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

The Spook Lights AffairThe Spook Lights Affair
A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #2
Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
Forge, December 2013
ISBN 978-0-7653-3175-5
Hardcover

Set in 1890’s San Francisco, Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services, is unique in that the Carpenter of the agency is female. Smart, able, and relentless in her duties, Sabina Carpenter is a fine character, and more than capable of holding John Quincannon’s amorous tendencies at a distance.

Quincannon is not quite so sympathetic a character. Lots of flaws in this man, including the fact he’s a bit on the greedy side. He also does a lot of smirking, which does become annoying. He’s a good detective, though. A match for Sabina.

San Francisco is almost a character, as well, if one can call a city that. Muller & Pronzini set us down in the town and bring it alive for the reader. From the hell-holes of the Barbary Coast to upper crust socialites on Nob Hill—which brings us to this episode of these two detectives’ continuing escapades.

Sabina is investigating the disappearance of a debutante, who may, or may not have committed suicide while Sabina was watching. But why? That’s the question. Was she murdered? Leave it to Sabina to find out.

Meanwhile, John is hot on the trail of bandits who robbed a Wells Fargo office. With a 10% reward on the line, he’s determined to bring the culprits to justice. All does not go smoothly, of course, what with a character who claims to be Sherlock Holmes butting in. And the thieves themselves are only too ready to defend their evil-doing.

This is a well-plotted mystery appealing to readers who appreciate the old days, as well as those who usually plant their feet in the present day.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, February 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Spook Lights Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

  1. I found this to be a weaker entry in this series. the elements were all there but it seemed to drag in spots. Both the characters and plot seemed predictable which led to a general flatness and lack of suspense. I was disappointed in Pronzini and Muller as I generally enjoy their work and I hope they return to form in their next offering.

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