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The Bughouse Affair: A Carpenter and…
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The Bughouse Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery (edition 2013)

by Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini

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855141,824 (3)14
Member:Kathy89
Title:The Bughouse Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery
Authors:Marcia Muller
Other authors:Bill Pronzini
Info:Forge Books (2013), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:(fiction) mystery, 1890s, San Francisco

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The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller

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John Quincannon, formerly of the U.S. Secret Service, and Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton operative, together run a private detective agency in Victorian San Francisco. Each of the business partners has taken the lead in the investigation for one of the agency's two current clients. Quincannon is looking into a series of thefts for an insurance agency, while Carpenter is hunting for a pickpocket working San Francisco's leisure spots. The detectives discover a possible connection between the cases, and they receive assistance (or rather, interference) from an unlikely source.

The first person perspective alternates by chapter between Carpenter and Quincannon. I listened to the audio version with a male and a female narrator. This doesn't work particularly well since Carpenter and Quincannon have a lot of conversations with each other. Each narrator ends up doing voice characterizations for both detectives. I was bothered by some historical inaccuracies. One of the characters buys a cone of ice cream a decade before their introduction at the Saint Louis World's Fair, and the same character visited the Chutes more than a year before they opened. The addition of Sherlock Holmes (supposed dead after his confrontation with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls) is superfluous. His presence gives me the impression that the authors weren't sure the Carpenter/Quincannon duo could carry the story on their own. There's nothing about the plot or the characters that would tempt me to continue reading this series. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 28, 2014 |
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. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes involving him and his clever sleuthing skills. The cast of suspects, informants and clients all added to the tale and were well fleshed out as well.

The world building and use of period language was very well done. The author(s) descriptions of both San Francisco and the people of this era came to life. The plot unfolded at a nice pace, and escalated towards the end with a few twists to my delight. I did figure out the case, before it was revealed and thought the how and why was clever. I found the terminology for criminals, and other creatures that inhabited the shadier streets to be fascinating. It does slow the reading pace as there are a lot of terms, suspects, places and facts to take it but it was such fun! I am looking forward to their next case.
I want to thank Tor/Forge for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review. Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer ( )
  kimbacaffeinate | Mar 30, 2013 |
Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini? Each of them is an accomplished and award winning mystery author, but they also happen to be husband and wife.

The Bughouse Affair is the first novel they've written together in over twenty years.

1890's San Francisco. Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton Detective Agency operative and ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon have joined forces and opened a successful detective agency of their own. Sabina is hunting for a female pickpocket who does more than nick wallets. John is on the lookout for a break and enter thief who is targeting the wealthy residents of San Fran.

This is a definitely a light hearted series. There's lots of banter between the two lead characters as well as some romantic tension. But, I felt I was just getting to know this pair, when another character was introduced - a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. He swears he survived his last encounter with Moriarty, is laying low in America and would like to observe the Carpenter/Quincannon Agency in action. As this is the first book featuring this duo, I thought the introduction of such a well known name and character a bit distracting. Although Quincannon swears this character is a 'bughouse' impostor, readers will recognize mannerisms, language and sleuthing abilities as written by Doyle.

The mysteries are not overly complicated but are 'cozy' in tone. I did enjoy the period descriptions and settings, including slang of this time period.

I chose to listen to The Bughouse Affair. There were two readers - Nick Sullivan and Meredith Mitchell. Sullivan has one of the most precise and clearest voices I've heard in a long time. His diction is excellent - every syllable of each word is easily distinguished. He did an admirable job bringing Quincannon to life, with lots of expression in his reading. He also did a good job with his reading of Holmes, including the accent. Mitchell's voice, although pleasant enough and well modulated, was too monotone for me. She is the more level headed of the two partners and perhaps a calming, even toned reader was chosen for this reason. She just never matched her partner for expression.

The book is written in opposite chapters - one for John, then Sabina. What I found puzzling was that each reader only read their character's chapter. So, when John is speaking to Sabina in one of 'her' chapters it is the female narrator reading all the parts. So, in effect you have two interpretations of each character. I think it would have been much better all round to have each reader do all of their character's lines, regardless of whose chapter it was.

This was an light listen for the drive back and forth to work.

(And this is a minor quibble, but I dislike having actual faces on the cover of a book. I prefer to paint my own mental images from the author's words, rather than a marketing department's idea of what the characters should look like.) ( )
  Twink | Mar 21, 2013 |
Former Secret Service Agent and Pinkerton detective team up to form a detective agency in San Francisco in the 1890s. There cases are investigating thefts for an insurance company and nabbing a pick-pocket and retrieving the stolen articles. The only thing that made this book interesting was is it or isn't it Sherlock Holmes interferring in their investigations. ( )
  Kathy89 | Feb 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765331748, Hardcover)

In The Bughouse Affair, this 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.

Fans of Marcia’s Muller’s bestselling Sharon McCone novels and Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective series will applaud this and future exploits from the annals of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:39 -0400)

1890s San Francisco. Former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, tackle two seemingly unrelated cases that are complicated by two murders and the interference of Sherlock Holmes.

(summary from another edition)

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