The Plague of Thieves by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini is the 4th installment of the Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery series where Sabina must find a man who claims to be Sherlock Holmes, and John attempts to catch a killer that is terrorizing the Golden State brewery (Available January 26, 2016).
Sabina Carpenter and John Quinncannon are no stranger to mysteries. In the five years since they opened Carpenter and Quinncannon, Professional Detective Services, they have solved dozens, but one has eluded even them: Sherlock Holmes or, rather, the madman claiming his identity, who keeps showing up with a frustrating (though admittedly useful) knack for solving difficult cases.
Roland W. Fairchild, recently arrived from Chicago, claims Holmes is his first cousin, Charles P. Fairchild III. Now, with his father dead, Charles stands to inherit an estate of over three million dollars-if Sabina can find him, and if he can be proved sane. Sabina is uncertain of Roland's motives, but agrees to take the case.
John, meanwhile, has been hired by the owner of the Golden State brewery to investigate the “accidental” death of the head brewmaster, who drowned in a vat of his own beer. When a second murder occurs, and the murderer escapes from under his nose, John finds himself on the trail not just of the criminals, but of his reputation for catching them.
But while John is certain he can catch his quarry, Sabina is less certain she wants to catch hers. Holmes has been frustrating, but useful, even kind. She is quite certain he is mad, and quite uncertain what will happen when he is confronted with the truth. Does every mystery need to be solved?
There were few more undesirable places for a detective and committed temperance man to be plying his trade, John Quincannon reflected sourly, not for the first time in the past few days, than the bowels of a blasted brewery.
The fine, rich perfume of malt, hops, yeast, and brewing and fermenting beer permeated every nook and cranny of the two-story, block-square brick building that housed Golden State Steam Beer. Whenever he prowled its multitude of rooms and passages, he was enveloped in a pungent miasma that tightened his throat and dried his mouth, creating a thirst that plain water couldn’t quite slake.
In his drinking days he had been mightily fond of the type of lager, invented during the Gold Rush and unique to San Francisco, known as “steam beer.” John Wieland’s Philadelphia Brewery, the National Brewery, and others operating in the city in this year of 1896 specialized in porter and pilsner; if one of their owners had sought the services of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services, he would not be suffering such pangs as this place instilled in him. But it had been Golden State’s James Willard who had come calling, and the fee he’d offered for an investigation into the bizarre death of the head brewmaster, Otto Ackermann, was a sum no self-respecting Scot in his right mind could afford to turn down.
[Read more from The Plague of Thieves Affair here...]