THE SPOOK LIGHTS AFFAIR by Marsha Muller and Bill Pronzini

spook lightsPUBLISHING INFO: Forge Books, 12/2013
GENRE: Fictional Historical Mystery
SETTING: California, USA, 1895
SERIES: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #2
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: In 1895 San Francisco young debutantes don’t commit suicide at festive parties, particularly not under the eye of Sabina Carpenter.  But Virginia St. Ives evidently did, leaping from a foggy parapet in a shimmer of ghostly light. The seemingly impossible disappearance of her body creates an even more serious problem for the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services.

Sabina hadn’t wanted to take the assignment, but her partner John Quincannon insisted it would serve as entrée to the city’s ultra rich and powerful. That means money, and Quincannon loves the almighty dollar. Which is why he is hunting the bandit who robbed the Wells, Fargo office of $35,000.

Working their separate cases (while Sabina holds John off with one light hand), the detectives give readers a tour of The City the way it was.  From the infamous Barbary Coast to the expensive Tenderloin gaming houses and brothels frequented by wealthy men, Quincannon follows a danger-laden trail to unmask the murderous perpetrators of the Wells, Fargo robbery. Meanwhile, Sabina works her wiles on friends and relatives of the vanished debutante until the pieces of her puzzle start falling into place. But it’s an oddly disguised gent appearing out of nowhere who provides the final clue to both cases—the shrewd “crackbrain” who believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes.

MY THOUGHTS: Slight spoilers ahead. I’m so disappointed in this story. It started out so good and interesting but became too far fetched. John and Sabina own a private investigation business and like in the previous book in this series each was working on a separate case that turned out to be connected. Why couldn’t they have worked cases that are unrelated in book two? My interest waned when the ‘ghostly sightings’ came along but that, thankfully, turned out to be something other than what we were lead to believe. I give the authors’ credit for originality regarding the suicide/ghostly activity but the story just wasn’t believable because of those things, IMO. I think what happened with the suicide was ridiculous and just not likely to have really happened. There was really no good reason for eighteen year old Virginia to want to do that anyway.

The whole robbery plot being connected to Virginia’s case wasn’t something I’d suspected. The Sherlock Holmes imposter made a very brief yet helpful appearance then went on his merry way. Not a fan of his character but since his time was so brief in the story, I didn’t mind him. John is still letting it be known he’s interested in Sabina but she’s still not interested in him that way. A new man has come into her life so we’ll have to see where that goes in the next installment.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

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