The best thing about being a Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini fan is that there always seems to be a book by one of them that I somehow missed. Sure, I've read every Sharon McCone and Nameless Detective novel, their short story collections, and many of Pronzini's stand-alones; however, these married authors have written and edited DOZENS of books, including many that are out of print. What a treasure trove for the discerning reader of suspense!
As far as I can determine, Muller and Pronzini have collaborated on three novels: LIGHTHOUSE, a stand-alone thriller; DOUBLE, a Nameless/McCone mystery; and BEYOND THE GRAVE, featuring two of the authors' lesser-known series characters, Muller's art museum director Elena Oliverez and Pronzini's late-19th-century San Francisco detective John Quincannon. As in DOUBLE, the authors alternate -- first, we get a few chapters told from Oliverez's point of view, and then we switch to Quincannon. What makes this collaboration noteworthy is that the Quincannon chapters take place in 1894, Oliverez's in the 1980s.
Oliverez has bought a Mexican wedding chest at auction for her art museum, and when she's examining it, she finds an old report written by Quincannon inside a hidden compartment. He had been on the trail of some lost religious artifacts, but apparently was never able to find them. By using Quincannon's report, Oliverez hopes to recover the valuable pieces. In the process of searching, both characters encounter murder and face danger.
The story flows seamlessly between past and present. While these may be the authors' second-string characters, this book is definitely never second rate.