cover image Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services

Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services

Bill Pronzini. Crippen & Landru Publishers, $40 (200pp) ISBN 978-1-885941-24-4

Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon are San Francisco-based detecting partners of the 1890s who have appeared in two Pronzini novels: Quincannon (1985) and Beyond the Grave (1986), coauthored by Pronzini's wife, Marcia Muller. In this collection of nine stories (eight reprints, one original), Pronzini makes skillful use of various period elements--including a logging camp, a rain-making fraud, a counterfeiter, a spiritualist and Chinatown--in nine clever puzzles. Quincannon is a former Secret Service agent and a reformed alcoholic; Carpenter is a former Pinkerton agent. Together, they form a team that relies more on wit than on firepower. Quincannon's constant efforts to make their relationship romantic earns consistent rebuffs from Carpenter, a narrative touchstone that gets annoying when presented, as it is here, in story after story. But even so, through these tales Pronzini again proves that he's as adept with short fiction as he is with the novel, making this a good bet for all his fans, not just the completists. (Nov.)