The Spook Lights Affair
In 1895 San Francisco, a debutante throws herself off a cliff during a festive party. Sabina Carpenter, a female private detective hired to watch the girl, is devastated. Sabina, along with her partner, Quincannon, investigates the suspicious suicide. The deb’s rumored attachment to a man far beneath her, and her parents’ disapproval, appear to be the catalyst for her despondence. However, the further Sabina digs, and after the body disappears, the less she believes this spoiled girl killed herself. Quincannon, meanwhile, is on a quest of his own. He’s investigating a recent theft of $35,000 from a Wells Fargo office. His snooping leads him to murders in the seedier sections of the city, and attempts on his own life. Strange lights that seem to float like ghosts along the foggy coast might tie both these crimes together.
Muller and Pronzini have written a lively tale that kept me hooked. Descriptions of Victorian-era San Francisco are sharp and distinctive, putting you right there with the characters. Sabina – a woman in an unusual occupation for this time period – and Quincannon are interesting and flawed people. Quincannon’s attraction to Sabina, and her absolute refusal to consider him, adds to the mix. I would definitely read more in this series. Highly entertaining.