Muller and Pronzini’s latest entry in their mystery series featuring Carpenter and Quincannon excels at evoking the time period of 1895 San Francisco, but somewhat lags otherwise. Social hierarchy plays a key role in both how the characters interpret the clues, and how the other characters treat the two detectives. An appearance by a detective who could be Sherlock Holmes adds to the puzzle.

Sabina Carpenter and her partner at Professional Detective Services, John Quincannon, receive two separate cases. Sabina becomes a babysitter for a social debutante. When she runs out of a party, Carpenter follows her to watch her plunge to her death off a cliff. Why did she want to kill herself? Quincannon is trying to nab the culprit behind a large bank robbery — red herrings and surprises abound. (FORGE, Dec., 256 pp., $24.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jeff Ayers