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The Bughouse Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery Hardcover – January 8, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Both past Mystery Writers of America Grand Masters, Muller and Pronzini combine forces for a historical mystery set in the San Francisco of 1894. John Quincannon, a former Secret Service agent, and Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton operative, have a successful detective agency in San Francisco. Sabina is searching for a pickpocket who preys on visitors at the Chutes Amusement Park and other crowded areas of the city. Quincannon is after a burglar who breaks into the homes of the wealthy. His search takes him to the bars and bawdy houses of the Barbary Coast and the boat of an oyster pirate. A strange man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes keeps offering his less-than-welcome assistance. Fans of Muller’s Sharon McCone series and Pronzini’s Nameless Detective novels will enjoy this trip to San Francisco in an earlier era. Those who enjoy historical mysteries are in for a particular treat with this delightful story featuring two intrepid detectives who solve their cases using different but equally effective methods. --Barbara Bibel


“Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini have brought together the distinctive personalities and differing investigative styles of their fictional snoops. The result is a team [Sharon McCone and the Nameless Detective] that is as memorable as Nick and Nora Charles.... When they combine forces, they double our pleasure.” ―San Francisco Chronicle on Double

“Muller and Pronzini are a duo who make beautiful mystery music together.” ―Atlanta Journal Constitution on Double

“A virtuoso performance by two virtuosos....” ―Norfolk, Virginia Pilot on Double

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Product Details

  • Series: Carpenter and Quincannon (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; First Edition edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765331748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765331748
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

MARCIA MULLER has written many novels and short stories. Her novel "Wolf in the Shadows" won the Anthony Boucher Award. The recipient of the Private Eye Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award and the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award - their highest accolade - she lives in northern California with her husband, mystery writer Bill Pronzini.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
As an avid fan for decades of both authors' works, I was disappointed in their Bughouse Affair. Yes, the period details and language were compelling. Yes, the detectives were compelling characters, too, but I do not understand why the character of Holmes had to be introduced at all. It's as if the authors weren't secure enough in their characters that they had to rely upon this literary trick to redeem them. The Holmes character was a stereotype and annoying, a device that some hack author would use, not Muller and Pronzini. If I want to read Holmes, I'll read Holmes. The use of this device, for me, detracted from the originialty of the authors' refreshing new characters in this period piece. Why not, for example, flesh out one of the police officers, corrupt or not, to act as foils or allies of the detectives? Or introduce one of their former Pinkerton or Secret Service colleagues? So many of the characters were orignal and unique--why did they bother with this Holmes device? Very disappointing.
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Format: Hardcover
The Bughouse Affair the first book in a new historical mystery series set in San Francisco during the 1890's offered up interesting characters and two cases that become intertwined. The tale features former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon, a former secret service agent who together have opened their own detective agency. I quickly became caught up in the mysteries and the character claiming to be none other than Sherlock Holmes himself.

The detective offices of Carpenter and Quincannon have two cases they are working on. He is working on a case for an insurance company where a series of burglaries involving insurance holders leads them to believe someone has gotten a hold of their client list. She is trying to catch a clever pickpocket who is robbing people at Chutes Amusement Park and affecting their business. The two cases seem completely unrelated but clues begin to make them fear otherwise. While trying to apprehend the housebreaker, Quincannon is detained by a man professing to be the dead man Sherlock Holmes. The tale that unfolds was suspenseful, witty and reminded me of old detective novels.

Muller and Pronzini did an excellent job of introducing us to Carpenter and Quincannon. I got a real sense for these quirky detectives, and found them to be amusing and confident. I loved how Holmes unnerved them, especially the overly confident, easily ruffled Quincannon. Sabina is still morning the loss of her husband, a former detective at Pinkerton and he has made his feelings for her well known. I found their banter to be delightful and funny. While there is no romance in this first book, the possibility is there. Holmes or whoever this man is was perfectly portrayed as the pompous, long-winded detective himself.
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Format: Hardcover
I originally picked this book after a book search for Sherlock Holmes directed me to it. Not so much.

Authors Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini have started an interested series starring Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon as owners of a detective agency in 19th century San Francisco. In this particular tale, an insurance company seeks their assistance after a series of robberies of prominent homes. At the same time, the owner of a local entertainment park hires the duo after a number of visitors are pick-pocketed. They divided the work and the tale evolves.

The beauty of the book rests in the authors' descriptions and evolution of San Francisco and the Bay Area during the time period. Although the mystery is entertaining and well ascribed, the addition of Holmes does little to advance the mystery and seems to open the gate for further adventures of the three. Holmes is in the US, by the way, after a respite from solving cases and mysteriously vanishing in Switzerland.

Carpenter and Quincannon make interesting partners. She, a former Pinkerton Agency operative; and he, a former Secret Service agent, have joined forces after her husband's death. Having them manage through an evolving attitude towards women and each other makes for interesting observations. The beauty of this book is not so much with the mystery...although it is certainly entertaining and well managed, but rather lies in their descriptions and incorporation of San Francisco and its melting pot of people and conditions.

The book read quickly, and the plot moved smoothly and consistently. I liked the tale and the characters and especially liked the historical narrative. In the late 1800s, San Francisco was a metropolitan city with international flavor. I suspect we will enjoy more of their escapades as they grow the Carpenter and Quincannon Professional Detective Services.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For thirty-some years, Marcia Muller has authored over 35 novels--three of them in collaboration with husband Bill Pronzini--seven short-story collections, and numerous nonfiction articles. Together she and Pronzini have edited a dozen anthologies and a nonfiction book on the mystery genre. In 2005 Muller was named a Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America, the organization's highest award. Pronzini was named Grand Master in 2008, making them the only living couple to share the award (the other being Margaret Millar ad Ross Macdonald).

"The Bughouse affair" takes place in the 1890's in a San Francisco area setting. The story features an otherwise unlikely partnership in a detective agency by one Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton detective - "Pink Rose" and John Quincannon a former secret service agent. Together they run the Carpenter and Quincannon Detective Agency. The drama begins with two seemingly distinct cases, each pursued separately by the respective detectives. In the one case, Sabrina is after a pick-pocket and Quincannon a burglar. As the plot thickens, the illustrious detectives find themselves at the root of two mysterious murders; and to the detective's chagrin, the perpetrators are seemingly uncovered by none other than the renowned Sherlock Holmes.

The thread of circumstantial evidence finds its way to be exposed in much the manner that Mr. Holmes would aspire had Mr. Doyle written the composition. To this end the mystery was plausibly solved though the participation of Sherlock Holmes seemed altogether unnecessary, however quaint. In all, the novel was a fun read, with some comical banter and light hearted confrontations.
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