Quintet: The Cases of Chase and Delacroix

Written by Richard A. Lupoff
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Set in the San Francisco environs of the 1930s, this series of five short stories covers the intrigues of brilliant, stylish, and very polite amateur sleuths Claire Delacroix and her millionaire boss, Akhenaton Beelzebub Chase. They are a perfect pair to solve impossible crimes set forth by police captain Cleland Baxter, who once served with Chase in the Great War.

Mystery abounds, beginning with the intriguing puzzle of a Hungarian actor found dead in his locked dressing room with vampire-like puncture wounds in his neck. A deep water explorer disappears from his diving suit, as does a fighter plane’s passenger after traveling through a cloud. Both Chase and Delacroix have a penchant for re-enacting the scene of the crime, their many talents in evidence as they do. Delacroix is a medical doctor, pilot, and multi-instrument musician with a weakness for movie magazines and a San Francisco Call reporter (who gets his own bonus story set in 1923), while her partner Chase is a professor, inventor, and autodidact polymath whose parents went down with both the Titanic and the Lusitania, with his wartime gassed lungs as a weakness.

The crimes solved range from a very deadly massacre of even the house servants, to a missing person caught in the act of attending a bar mitzvah. Through it all there are colorful gadgets and gizmos galore, food both delicious and deadly, and a setting that sparkles as brightly as the characters of the well-matched sleuths. Great fun!