Eye of the Agency

Richard Moquist, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-15526-1
In this dapper mystery debut set in 1873, Moquist introduces 40-ish narrator Sadie Greenstreet and her husband, Horace, a Pinkerton detective. Horace is hired by Elcid Hardacre, a riverboat entrepreneur whose life has been threatened in a mysterious note. Believing his nemesis to be Andrew DuBois, a rival businessman who has been unsuccessful in attempting to purchase Hardacre's flagship, the Mississippi Girl, Hardacre invites Horace to travel on the ship in order to follow DuBois. Sadie, looking for adventure and a break from writing her weekly advice column, accompanies her husband and has a rough start when Hardacre is found murdered in his cabin on the second night out. Sadie and Horace begin to doubt DuBois's guilt as other suspects appear. Captain McQuaid, making his last journey for Hardacre, and Sidney Cotton, ship's doctor, have obvious motives. Not until a second murder occurs is Sadie able to piece the puzzle together in a climactic meeting of all the suspects. Sadie exhibits flashes of brilliant deduction but, inexplicably, subsequently appears somewhat thick. Despite these inconsistencies and a shortage of atmospheric description (a lack somewhat atoned for by Victorian-era photos and lithographs), Moquist's debut is an encouraging one. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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