John Quincannon & Sabina Carpenter

John Quincannon
Created by Bill Pronzini 
Pseudonyms include Jack Foxx, Alex Saxon, Brett Halliday, William Jeffrey, Romer Zane Grey, and Robert Hart Davis
(1943 –)

Sabina Carpenter
Created by Marcia Muller

From Bill Pronzini, creator of The Nameless Detective, comes Old West former Secret Service agent JOHN QUINCANNON and his partner, former Pinkerton operative SABINA CARPENTER, who run their own agency, Carpenter & Quincannon, offering “Professional Detective Services” in 1890s San Francisco. From there they work the badlands between the Old West and the New, chasing card sharks, counterfeiters, swindlers, bandits and killers, venturing at one point as far as Hawaii.

When Quincannon made his first appearance in the eponymous Quincannon (1985), written by Pronzini alone, he was a drunken Secret Service agent on the trail of koniagers (counterfeiters). That’s when he first makes the acquaintance of Sabina, a female Pinkerton op and his unrequited love interest. Hell, the guy even stops drinking for her!

Quincannon returned in Beyond the Grave (1986), a novel Pronzini co-wrote with his wife, Marcia Muller. Set in the 1890s and the 1980s, with Marcia’s modern-day Chicana amateur sleuth Elena Oliverez solving a mystery with the help of Quincannon’s 1890 case notes.

Quincannon and Carpenter then teamed up in a string of short stories, most notably in Louis L’Amour Western Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which were ultimately collected in 1998’s Carpenter & Quincannon, Professional Detective Services, and in 2005 another collection, Quincannon’s Game, appeared.

2013 saw something of a complete reboot of the series, with the release of The Bughouse Affair, which promised to be “the first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco,” co-written by Pronzini and Muller. There have been several “affairs” since, although since The Bag of Tricks Affair (2018),  Pronzini’s seems to be writing them solo.



  • By Pronzini only, except where otherwise noted
  • “No Room at the Inn” (1988, Crime At Christmas)
  • “Burgade’s Crossing” (1993, Louis L’Amour Western Magazine)
  • “The Cloud Cracker” (July 1994, Louis L’Amour Western Magazine)
  • “Lady One-Eye” (September 1994, Louis L’Amour Western Magazine)
  • “Coney Game” (November 1994, Louis L’Amour Western Magazine)
  • “The Desert Limited” (November 1995, Louis L’Amour Western Magazine)
  • “The Horseshoe Nail” (February 1997, EQMM)
  • “Medium Rare” (September/October 1998, EQMM)
  • “The Highbinders” (1998, Carpenter & Quincannon Professional Detective Services; also June 1999, EQMM)
  • “Quincannon in Paradise” (November 2005, EQMM)
  • “The Bughouse Caper” (2005, Quincannon’s Game)
  • “Medium Rare” (2005, Quincannon’s Game)
  • “Devil’s Brew” (December 2006, EQMM)
  • “The Carville Ghost” (September/October 2007, EQMM)
  • “Pickpocket” (September/October 2007, EQMM; by Marcia Muller, featuring Sabina Carpenter)
  • “Burglarproof” (February 2010, EQMM)
  • “The Body Snatchers” (July 2010, EQMM)
  • “The Chatelaine Bag” (June 2011, EQMM; with Marcia Muller)
  • “Gunpowder Alley” (August 2012, EQMM)
  • “It Couldn’t Be Done?” (July 2014, EQMM)
  • “The Gold Stealers” (September/October 2014, EQMM)
  • “Smoke Screen” (November/December 2018, EQMM)
  • “Pick Up Sticks” (January/February 2021, EQMM)


  • Carpenter & Quincannon, Professional Detective Services (1998)Buy this book
  • Burgade’s Crossing (2003)Buy this book
    Contains one original story and reprints from Carpenter & Quincannon.
  • Quincannon’s Game (2005)Buy this book Kindle it!



  • June 10, 2023
    The Bottom Line: Riding out from 1890s San Francisco, these two work the badlands between the Old West and the New, chasing card sharks, counterfeiters, swindlers, bandits and killers.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Paul Bergin and Mario Šaravanja for moseying down this trail with me.

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