Book Review: The Body Snatchers Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

The Body Snatchers AffairThe Body Snatchers Affair
A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #3
Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
Forge, January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3176-2

In this historical mystery, San Francisco private detectives Sabina Carpenter and her partner, John Quincannon are working separate, but closely related cases. Sabina has been hired by a wealthy society matron whose husband’s body has been stolen from their private mausoleum and held for ransom. John is searching for a woman’s husband whom she suspects has fallen victim to Chinatown’s notorious opium dens. Strangely enough, his case also connects to a body snatching, that of a recently deceased Chinese tong kingpin. The danger in John’s investigation becomes severe when not only the husband is murdered, but John, too, is almost killed.

Meanwhile, complications between the detectives are ongoing as Sabina is dating an eligible bachelor from a prominent San Francisco family and John, who desires Sabine for himself, is terribly jealous. Add in an enigmatic Englishman who insists he’s Sherlock Holmes and the whole affair becomes even more mysterious.

The book is competently written as you would expect from these writing partners, but having read other Carpenter and Quincannon stories, this one seems to fall a little short. I could’ve solved Sabina’s case from the moment she first met her clients, and John’s investigation, though interspersed with more action, was almost as easy. Sherlock Holmes was, and remains, the biggest mystery, while the romance in the book seems forced.

I do love the setting and all the impeccably researched historical aspects. The reader gets a real sense of how old San Francisco used to be, not only as a background setting, but as to how people went about their lives in those days.

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