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The Bughouse Affair (A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #1)

3.15  ·  Rating Details ·  886 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
In 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 vict
Hardcover, First, 272 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Forge Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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David Monroe
There are many things wrong and I could nit-pick. There are many things I enjoyed, too. The main problem for me, is that this is the fourth in Bill Pronzini's Quincannon series and first in the Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery, jointly written with his wife - noted mystery author, Marcia Muller. For me and I'm sure for many readers, it was our entree into these characters. So why add the extra distraction of including the most famous fictional Detective in modern history? In the Carpenter/Quinca ...more
I was really disappointed in this book. I love the Sharon McCone series, and I've read a couple of the Nameless Detective books by Pronzini and liked them as well, so I had high hopes for this one.

It seems that with the current vogue for "period mysteries," there seems to be a huge emphasis on the "period" and not so much on the "mystery." Fairly weak stories, characters who aren't particularly compelling, but loads of details to show how much the author has researched the period. For me, at lea
Sep 02, 2013 Ed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bill Pronzini/Marcia Muller mystery fans
This fun outing is the collaborative effort of husband and wife Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller. A burly, tough Scotsman John Quincannon and a former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter run a private detective partnership in San Francisco late in the nineteenth century. I don't if Bill and Marcia wrote the male and female protagonists respectively, but the narrative is a seamless read if they did. I liked the historical details and vivid realistic setting besides the two protagonists. The minor ...more
Jul 28, 2013 Marcie rated it it was ok
The best thing about this book is the cover, seriously. There they stand, looking all turn-of-the-century steampunk with feisty, spunky expressions on their faces, this male/female team of private detectives working in 1890s San Francisco. I think there's actually enormous potential for these characters, and that is the obvious intention suggested by the promo on the cover identifying this as the FIRST in, I'm sure, a long series as a "Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery."

My main gripe is this: Use
Feb 11, 2013 Sue rated it liked it
Recommends it for: historical mysteries, cozy mysteries readers s
This is book one in a new series from Marcia Muller and her husband and fellow writer, Bill Pronzini. It's a tale of a detective agency set in 1890s San Fransisco and pulls in all the myriad cultures and precincts present there and then. The agency is comprised of John Quincannon, a former member of the Federal Secret Service, and Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton agent.

Muller and Pronzini appear to have been very scrupulous in searching the background of the time for use in dialogue, descrip
Apr 16, 2013 JBradford rated it it was ok
I have admitted before that I sometimes select books based on their cover. That was the case in this one; I was looking for a mystery to get away from my recent fantasy/science fiction kick, and here was one that was clearly different. The protagonists are shown on the cover with clothing going back to at least the turn of the last century. They are a couple – or rather, they are a man and a woman; he is a dashing, tall and fairly broad shouldered young fellow with a nicely trimmed beard, she is ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Lweight rated it it was ok
Having enjoyed many of Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone mysteries, I had high hopes for this new series, but was very disappointed. In the author's note at the back, they noted that they used a couple of books, "The Barbary Coast: An informal history of the San Francisco Underworld" by Herbert Asbury and "Champagne Days of San Francisco" by Evelyn Wells. Champagne Days, which was published in 1939, is not regarded by some as an accurate work of history. I would question such items as, on page 24, S ...more
Hazel West
Apr 28, 2013 Hazel West rated it it was ok
Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was one of those books that I was mildly interested in enough to finish, but it wasn't great either, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It was there to fill idle time, but there was nothing about it that made me sit and read half the book in one sitting either. Apart from that, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be at first.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Undecided. It's not the worst character impressions I have seen; Quincannon is okay, but I don't care for Sabina
Jun 07, 2013 Tony rated it liked it
THE BUGHOUSE AFFAIR. (2013). Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. ***.
This is a light-hearted beginning of a new series written by two legends in the crime/detective fiction genres. It is their first collaboration in many, many years. They are also married, but still write under their premarital names. Pronzini has written scads of novels in both the P.I. and Western categories. He is best known for his series featuring the “Nameless Detective.” He was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of
Feb 08, 2013 Grandmama rated it really liked it
Recommended to Grandmama by: Margaret Chind
Shelves: mj-book
Review of Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzoni’s historical mystery THE BUGHOUSE AFFAIR

This may well be the beginning of a very enjoyable mystery series. Like other successful series the authors have chosen a fascinating city, San Francisco, and a fascinating time period the, 1890’s. The heroine is adept in her deductive powers and does her job well. Her partner in the detective agency is a possible hero in the series but he has lots of flaws. He is much too boastful and confident in his deductive ab
Jun 21, 2013 Gena rated it it was ok
Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon run a private detective agency in 1890s San Francisco. She is on the trail of a "dip" or pickpocket working the nearby amusement park and he is hunting down a house burglar targeting wealthy homeowners. Oh yeah, and Sherlock Holmes shows up to help them figure out the cases. First off, I want to say listing a whole bunch of items in a room or location does not constitute descriptive writing. It's just a list. And secondly if you introduce a character who migh ...more
Sep 30, 2013 GlenK rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I've been a fan of Pronzini's Nameless Detective for years so I was looking forward to this, the start of a new historical mystery series, written with his wife Marcia Muller and set in 1890's San Francisco. The major characters are ex-Pinkerton Sabina Carpenter and ex-Secret Service John Quincannon who are partnered in a detective agency that specializes in insurance investigations. Refreshingly, Carpenter, a woman ahead of her time, runs the operation. The plot was good with a classic "bring e ...more
May 14, 2015 Phair rated it it was ok
Definitely NOT blown away by this series opener (although I understand there have been other books featuring only Quincannon). The whole thing felt a little throwaway with no deep characterization or intricate plot. There was no rich world building - merely adequate. Perhaps I was overly turned off by the cover art depicting Carpenter, a widow aged 31, in this 1880's period with her long hair tumbling about her shoulders. A respectable older woman, especially a married/widow woman would not appe ...more
May 11, 2013 Allison rated it liked it
The Bughouse Affair is the first title in a new historical mystery series by award winning authors Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. Set in San Francisco in the 1890s, the novel features two private investigators, Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton detective or “Pink Lady” as the female operatives were called, and John Quincannon, an ex-Secret Service agent. Rich in historical detail, The Bughouse Affair is a lighthearted mystery filled with humorous dialog and banter between the two detectives ...more
Feb 13, 2013 Vickie rated it liked it
This is a don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover situation. If I'd seen the book I never would have picked it up because of the insipid cover art. But, it's by a favorite crime novelist, so I thought I'd give it a try. Set in 1890s San Francisco, it's the story of a pair of private investigators that's likely to become a series. A certain fictional character (unnamed to avoid a spoiler) figures in the plot.
Jul 28, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
This is the first in a new series by Marcia Muller and her husband. Quincannon and Sabina run a detective agency in San Francisco in the late 1800s. The writingnstylemreflectsmthe period, the mystery is good and a character who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes adds to the fun. I look forward to future books in the series .
Arlene Allen
Feb 26, 2013 Arlene Allen rated it really liked it
I think the series has a lot of potential to grow into a solid addition to historical mystery fare. The only thing I didn't like was all of the slang, which made all of the characters sound cheap rather than authentic. I love the descriptions of old San Francisco, and I rather like Sabina. Of Quincannon I have no comment! I will certainly look forward to the next book in the series.
Jan 13, 2014 Victoria rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it, not for the Sherlock portion (The reason I even picked it up) but because of the story style. I felt a dolt when I reached the end to just realize that the sections were broken up by character; so when the Scot was speaking from his perspective it titled it is, and then hers respectively. Somehow, I missed that all together. I'd read another in the series!
Richard N.
Jun 05, 2013 Richard N. rated it it was amazing
Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini and each among my favorite authors. When they work together, something really exciting comes out.

The Bughouse Affair is entertaining. A strong, thoughtful, female in turn of the century San Francisco, a male partner that's strong and action oriented, and an appearance by Sherlock Holmes. Another character is gaslight era San Francisco.
A good, solid 3 stars. Better written than many, though the depiction of Holmes brings down the overall story. Really annoying that it's not available for Kindle.
Janice Mcmullen
Mar 18, 2013 Janice Mcmullen rated it liked it
Okay but nothing like Sherlock Holmes whom it refers to.
Jan 09, 2017 Patrick rated it it was amazing
This was another fun read. It was set in the late 1890s San Francisco and features two detectives solving mysteries and catching criminals. This is the first of the series. Some how Sherlock Holmes makes his appearance, or at least someone purporting to be him. I find the description of the city interesting, since I used to live there. But also some of the strange language they use. You won't be disappointed if you read it.
Jan 09, 2017 Michele rated it it was ok
Shelves: suspensemystery
A light entertaining read... nowhere near as good as the Sharon McCone series. I get that this was set in the late 18oos, but from the description I expected Carpenter to be a stronger character. Maybe she'll show off her chops a bit more in the later books. I also thought the addition of Sherlock Holmes to the mix would be exciting, but his character was really more annoying than anything else.
Sherry Powell
Dec 17, 2016 Sherry Powell rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect read for me, a historical mystery. I will be reading the entire series.
Mar 16, 2013 Marlene rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

At the beginning, it felt like I was missing something. Like any detective, I started to hunt for that elusive clue. But I didn't hunt hard enough until after I'd finished the book.

I do enjoy the occasional mystery, and historic mysteries in particular. Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini are both certified masters of their craft, but I had never gotten around to sampling either of their long-running series.

The Bughouse Affair, the first volume in their joint C
Stephanie Jewett
I never really got into this too much- I thought it was the first in a series, but it quickly became apparent that both of these characters have backstories that knowing would have made it easier to relate to them and understand their motivations. Reading some of the reviews here shows that to be the case.
The cover makes it look like steampunk, but it's not, and what's up with having Sherlock Holmes be a character? Is he going to be a regular in this series?
Whatever. I don't care.
Sarah Lawrence
Nov 16, 2014 Sarah Lawrence rated it liked it
Finally I found the first in a series! While I originally picked this up for the female-male detective partnership, west coast setting (not New York for once!), and interest in whether the book would be complete historical fiction or actually feature Sherlock Holmes, I ended up reading it in part for research in my ongoing project.

In that respect, I was glad I did--electricity and technology was a bit more advanced than I expected! I'd completely forgotten to think about telephones, and I hadn'
Pam Bales
Nov 23, 2016 Pam Bales rated it really liked it
I am a fan of Marcia Muller and Bill Prozini so when I learned of this series, I decided to give it a try. Historical fiction with detectives is a good genre. I have checked the next one out of the library and it has started out well. If you are a fan of this type of fiction, give it a try..
Feb 03, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this first book of a new series of “lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco”. It was rich with period details (a little too much at times), especially of the Barbary Coast, which was a red-light district known for gambling, prostitution and crime. Former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, own a detective agency and have been working together for three years now. In this story, Sabina is hired to find the woman who pick ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Kimberly rated it really liked it
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
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Jul 26, 2015 11:13AM  
Mansfield Public ...: The Bughouse Affair Review by Ann Pedro 1 4 Jul 01, 2013 10:54AM  
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A native of the Detroit area, Marcia Muller grew up in a house full of books and self-published three copies of her first novel at age twelve, a tale about her dog complete with primitive illustrations. The "reviews" were generally positive.

In the early 1970s, having moved to California, Muller found herself unemployable and began experimenting with mystery novels.

In the ensuing thirty-some years,
More about Marcia Muller...

Other Books in the Series

A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery (5 books)
  • The Spook Lights Affair (Carpenter and Quincannon, #2)
  • The Body Snatchers Affair (Carpenter and Quincannon #3)
  • The Plague of Thieves Affair (Carpenter and Quincannon, #4)
  • The Dangerous Ladies Affair (A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery, #5)

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