Don’t let the cover (jacket art by Gordon Crabb) fool you. At first glance, The Body Snatchers Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini looks like another installment in the increasingly familiar genre of Steampunk. But on the inside, you’ll find a twisting journey set in a Victorian era San Francisco filled with murder, mystery, romance and someone who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes. What you won’t find is the typical trappings of gadgets and googles often found in the science fiction works of this era.
The story revolves around a unique pair of investigators. While sorting through her own personal relationships with accomplished businessman Carson Montgomery and detective partner John Quincannon, Sabrina Carpenter is hot on the trail of the culprit who kidnapped the deceased body of millionaire Ruben Blanchford, seeking a hefty ransom from the widow. At the same time, Quincannon is embroiled in a dangerous case involving attorney James Scarlett who was assassinated in Chinatown while in the detectives charge.
The Body Snatchers Affair is scheduled for release from Forge Books next week on January 6, 2015. The book is the third installment of the Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery series (The Bughouse Affair, 2013, and The Spook Lights Affair, 2013). With just enough backstory to keep the reader in the loop regarding the rest of the series, The Body Snatchers Affair can easily be picked up as a stand-alone book without any worry of becoming lost in the intricate swirl of character developments. Though, the other books are recommended on their own merits as well.
The characters are indicative of the time period and help pull he plot along with the style of classic literature. If you’re a fan of complex mysteries in the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this novel will suite your interests. This is of course evident with Muller and Pronzini’s inclusion of the mysteriously eccentric character who “claims” to be Sherlock Holmes. An obvious nod to the recognizable detective from the same time period, it is almost symbolic to the series that the main characters work in the shadows of the one who many associate with the era.
The Body Snatchers Affair is a fun quick read at only 219 pages. But the story is just complex enough to hold fans of intriguing mysteries and delicately written for fans of the Victorian lifestyle characters. You can’t go wrong with this one.