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Introducing Pentecost and Parker, two unconventional female detectives who couldn’t care less about playing by the rules, in their cases and in their lives. It's 1942 and Willowjean "Will" Parker is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York's best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dap Introducing Pentecost and Parker, two unconventional female detectives who couldn’t care less about playing by the rules, in their cases and in their lives. It's 1942 and Willowjean "Will" Parker is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York's best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dapper detective summons Will a few days later, she doesn't expect to be offered a life-changing proposition: Lillian's multiple sclerosis means she can't keep up with her old case load alone, so she wants to hire Will to be her right-hand woman. In return, Will will receive a salary, room and board, and training in Lillian's very particular art of investigation. Three years later, Will and Lillian are on the Collins case: Abigail Collins was found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball following a big, boozy Halloween party at her home--her body slumped in the same chair where her steel magnate husband shot himself the year before. With rumors flying that Abigail was bumped off by the vengeful spirit of her husband (who else could have gotten inside the locked room?), the family has tasked the detectives with finding answers where the police have failed. But that's easier said than done in a case that involves messages from the dead, a seductive spiritualist, and Becca Collins--the beautiful daughter of the deceased, who Will quickly starts falling for. When Will and Becca's relationship dances beyond the professional, Will finds herself in dangerous territory, and discovers she may have become the murderer's next target. A wildly charming and fast-paced mystery written with all the panache of 1940s New York, Fortune Favors the Dead is a fresh homage to Holmes and Watson reads like the best of Dashiell Hammett and introduces an audacious detective duo for the ages.


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Introducing Pentecost and Parker, two unconventional female detectives who couldn’t care less about playing by the rules, in their cases and in their lives. It's 1942 and Willowjean "Will" Parker is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York's best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dap Introducing Pentecost and Parker, two unconventional female detectives who couldn’t care less about playing by the rules, in their cases and in their lives. It's 1942 and Willowjean "Will" Parker is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York's best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dapper detective summons Will a few days later, she doesn't expect to be offered a life-changing proposition: Lillian's multiple sclerosis means she can't keep up with her old case load alone, so she wants to hire Will to be her right-hand woman. In return, Will will receive a salary, room and board, and training in Lillian's very particular art of investigation. Three years later, Will and Lillian are on the Collins case: Abigail Collins was found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball following a big, boozy Halloween party at her home--her body slumped in the same chair where her steel magnate husband shot himself the year before. With rumors flying that Abigail was bumped off by the vengeful spirit of her husband (who else could have gotten inside the locked room?), the family has tasked the detectives with finding answers where the police have failed. But that's easier said than done in a case that involves messages from the dead, a seductive spiritualist, and Becca Collins--the beautiful daughter of the deceased, who Will quickly starts falling for. When Will and Becca's relationship dances beyond the professional, Will finds herself in dangerous territory, and discovers she may have become the murderer's next target. A wildly charming and fast-paced mystery written with all the panache of 1940s New York, Fortune Favors the Dead is a fresh homage to Holmes and Watson reads like the best of Dashiell Hammett and introduces an audacious detective duo for the ages.

30 review for Fortune Favors the Dead

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Set during the final years of WW2 in New York, Stephen Spotswood writes the first of a delightful historical murder mystery series featuring the famous female PI, Lillian Pentecost, with her detective agency and narrated by her assistant, the street smart Willowjean 'Will' Parker, an ex-cirky girl with an unusual skill set acquired after becoming a jack of all trades at the circus, after running away from home. It was her knife throwing skills that saved Lillian on their first meeting that led t Set during the final years of WW2 in New York, Stephen Spotswood writes the first of a delightful historical murder mystery series featuring the famous female PI, Lillian Pentecost, with her detective agency and narrated by her assistant, the street smart Willowjean 'Will' Parker, an ex-cirky girl with an unusual skill set acquired after becoming a jack of all trades at the circus, after running away from home. It was her knife throwing skills that saved Lillian on their first meeting that led to Will's new career direction, Lillian is suffering from the progressive disease of MS and badly needed help, training Will in the vital skills required in the profession. A wealthy woman, Lillian, feels the strong need to put back into the community, her well paying clients allow her to run the packed Open Saturdays, where those who cannot afford her services receive the requisite support, and Will runs her self defense classes for women often facing abuse and domestic violence, as a consequence the detectives have a wide network of informants to draw on for their cases. The agency is called in when the wealthy Abigail Collins, wife of a steel magnate, Alistair, who switched to production of military weapons for the American war effort, is discovered murdered, a locked room mystery, at the annual Halloween Party celebrations that boasted the presence of fortune teller and spiritualist, Ariel Belestrade. Strangely, a year previously, Al Collins had committed suicide in the same room and rumours are rife that it was the dead man who was responsible for killing his wife with a crystal ball. It is a complex investigation, with a wide range of suspects that include the beautiful Collins twins, Randolph and Becca, and their beloved godfather, Harry Wallace, a good friend of their father. Will struggles to adhere to Lillian's order that she stay away from Ariel, only to find herself regretting not following her instructions. And why can't they find any information on Abigail before she arrived in New York? Spotswood new series oozes charm and atmosphere, with its wonderful offbeat protagonists that immediately caught my interest, their relationship with each other is a joy to observe as they are always there for each other when required. I particularly liked Will, dressing like a man, unafraid of taking on men twice her size, with her sexual attraction to Becca, hardworking and determined, but a woman with her flaws. There are faint echoes of the Sherlock Holmes and John Watson dynamic, but Will is more of her own woman, and with Lillian's MS set to worsen, no doubt Will is going to have to increasingly step up in the future. This is such a promising beginning to the new series, so engaging and entertaining, that I cannot wait for the next in the series! Many thanks to Headline for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gail C.

    This is the first in a proposed new mystery series that defines further genre identification. It has a strong female protagonist, and indeed some issues regarding equality for women running through it. It is also written in the hard-boiled style in terms of some of its sentence structure combined with some of the action that would find itself at home in many hardboiled novels. On the other hand, it has little violence and no typical “gun moll” or distressed female beauty seeking the help of a do This is the first in a proposed new mystery series that defines further genre identification. It has a strong female protagonist, and indeed some issues regarding equality for women running through it. It is also written in the hard-boiled style in terms of some of its sentence structure combined with some of the action that would find itself at home in many hardboiled novels. On the other hand, it has little violence and no typical “gun moll” or distressed female beauty seeking the help of a down on his luck but strong masculine detective. Rather, the head of this detective agency is the very competent, very successful, Lillian Pentecost. While she is the head of the agency, the book is narrated by Willojean Parker, a young woman who has been brought up in the circus and who has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime; namely to work and apprentice with Pentecost, one of the premier investigators of the period. Pentecost needs Parker as she has MS which is slowly progressing and robbing her of some of her physical strength and ability. Together they create a formidable team with Pentecost teaching Parker the ins and outs of detective work, and Parker using the survival skills she learned growing up in a traveling carnival to enhance her skills in this new to her world. The atmosphere of the book is skillfully drawn so the reader gets an in-depth flavor of the time period without feeling as if they are reading a history book. There is some humor here, enough to lighten the book and help move it along without being over-the-top. There are also just enough hints of violence to remind the reader that detective work can be dangerous while the book remains largely gore free. The reader can supply as much or as little with their own imagination when action becomes paramount. The primary mystery is well crafted with all the clues laid out for the reader if they put them together in the right order. The solution is logical and satisfying without being tied up in one neat, shiny package. There are also minor mysteries that reach logical conclusions, at least one of which the reader may be unaware of having been a mystery. The result is a delightfully complex book with well-written characters that will leave most readers hoping this is, indeed, the beginning of a new series. This is a book I could recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted and well-paced mystery. My thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital copy. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. The book is scheduled to be published on October 27, 2020; so you’ve got just enough time to order a copy from your local bookseller or get on the waiting list at your library.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Fortune Favours the Dead is the first instalment in the Pentecost and Parker Murder Mystery series, featuring Private Investigator Lillian Pentecost, who runs her own detective agency, alongside her assistant, intelligent and cultured Willowjean ”Will” Parker. It's 1942 and Will is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York's best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dapper detective summons Will a few days later, Fortune Favours the Dead is the first instalment in the Pentecost and Parker Murder Mystery series, featuring Private Investigator Lillian Pentecost, who runs her own detective agency, alongside her assistant, intelligent and cultured Willowjean ”Will” Parker. It's 1942 and Will is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York's best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dapper detective summons Will a few days later, she doesn't expect to be offered a life-changing proposition: Lillian's multiple sclerosis means she can't keep up with her old case load alone, so she wants to hire Will to be her right-hand woman. In return, Will is to receive a salary, room and board, and training in Lillian's very particular art of investigation. Three years later, Will and Lillian are on the Collins case: Abigail Collins was found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball following a big, boozy Halloween party at her home--her body slumped in the same chair where her steel magnate husband shot himself the year before. With rumors flying that Abigail was bumped off by the vengeful spirit of her husband (who else could have gotten inside the locked room?), the family has tasked the detectives with finding answers where the police have failed. But that's easier said than done in a case that involves messages from the dead, a seductive spiritualist, and Becca Collins--the beautiful daughter of the deceased, who Will quickly starts falling for. When Will and Becca's relationship dances beyond the professional, Will finds herself in dangerous territory, and discovers she may have become the murderer's next target. This is a charming and utterly captivating historical murder mystery, set against the atmospheric backdrop of 1940s New York City. Lillian and Will are characters that are exquisitely wrought and who both have distinct personalities. I loved that they were instantly likeable and the dynamic they have together really worked. They're quirky, relatable, strong women, who don't shy away from backing themselves and each other in a sector dominated by men. I feel as though they very much came alive on the page they were so carefully and intricately built. The murder mystery aspect is superbly plotted, well written and chugs along at a decent pace while also allowing Spotswood the time necessary for series opener exposition. A compulsive, fun and entertaining read and one of the finest series starters I have read in a while. Sublime. Many thanks to Wildfire for an ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    I received a free advance review copy from the publisher, via Netgalley. In his first mystery novel, Spotswood imagines that two of New York’s finest private investigators in 1946 are Lillian Pentecost, a late middle-aged woman fighting against the encroaching enfeeblement of multiple sclerosis, and her investigator, young Willowjean Parker, aka Will. Will is a young woman who ran away from home at 15, joined the circus, and was eventually taken on by Pentecost as her protegé. Pentecost is hired t I received a free advance review copy from the publisher, via Netgalley. In his first mystery novel, Spotswood imagines that two of New York’s finest private investigators in 1946 are Lillian Pentecost, a late middle-aged woman fighting against the encroaching enfeeblement of multiple sclerosis, and her investigator, young Willowjean Parker, aka Will. Will is a young woman who ran away from home at 15, joined the circus, and was eventually taken on by Pentecost as her protegé. Pentecost is hired to investigate the murder of Abigail Collins, the widow of industrialist Al Collins, who committed suicide the previous year. The murder takes place in the Collins mansion during a Halloween party. Mrs. Collins has set up a fortune teller in the study to work the party, and late in the evening she is found there, bludgeoned with the crystal ball, in the locked study. The size of the party gives Pentecost and Will a lot of suspects to examine. But in addition to the usual minutiae of following movements and alibis, they focus on motives and backgrounds. And boy, there sure is a lot to look at, including family and business secrets. Will’s job is complicated by her attraction to Mrs. Collins’s wild child of a daughter, Rebecca. This is a sort of period hardboiled private detective story with a twist or two. One twist is that the PIs are women, another that Will is gay. Both Pentecost and Will are appealing characters, which helps paper over some of the weaknesses of the book, including the sketchy period details, a sprinkling of anachronisms, and too many mysteries crammed into one case. Not a standout, but worth reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Patchy period detail and an uninspiring plot let down a promising gender bending PI team. Fortune Favours the Dead is an offbeat homage to hard-boiled American crime fiction and introduces a promising new gender bending detective duo. Lilian Pentecost is New York’s leading female detective but is suffering from a degenerative disease that is increasingly holding her back with the demanding legwork of the job. When she meets twenty-year-old circus girl Willowjean “Will” Parker at a crime scene and Patchy period detail and an uninspiring plot let down a promising gender bending PI team. Fortune Favours the Dead is an offbeat homage to hard-boiled American crime fiction and introduces a promising new gender bending detective duo. Lilian Pentecost is New York’s leading female detective but is suffering from a degenerative disease that is increasingly holding her back with the demanding legwork of the job. When she meets twenty-year-old circus girl Willowjean “Will” Parker at a crime scene and sees that Will’s quick hands are accompanied by an even quicker head she hires her as an assistant and future replacement. Nobody’s fool and as ready for a street brawl as she is to pick locks and probe, Will is a fascinating one-off with a penchant for ladies at a time when attitudes to sexuality were openly hostile to anyone deviating from the norm. Three years into their time together in 1946 brings a threshold moment for the duo and a case with one heck of a fallout and the jaunty first person narrative of dynamic Will takes readers through it. When the matriarch of a wealthy corporate family, Abigail Collins, is bludgeoned to death by a crystal ball at her very own Halloween party and her body found in the locked room it returns the family to the headlines. Just a year prior to this event Abigail’s steel magnate husband, Alastair, shocked everyone who knew him by taking his own life, leaving Harrison Wallace as acting CEO of Collins Steelworks and Manufacturing and to handle the critical renegotiation of military contracts. As godparent to the Collins twins, Rebecca and Randolph, who share a fractious relationship Wallace hires Lilian Pentecost to search for the truth where the NYPD are failing to make headway. The revelation that Abigail was seeing a high profile psychic whose methods Lilian is suspicious of combined with her mysterious background gives the duo more than a little food for thought. However it is only when Rebecca starts putting the moves on Will that things really start to kick off... Whilst I adored Will and was a paid-up fan of her style and the narrative I felt a little short-changed that despite being the boss Lilian Pentecost didn’t bring much to the party not even in terms of Agatha Christie style deduction. The period detail is also patchy and it certainly doesn’t feel like the country is engaged in a war and despite the attitudes to homosexuality being spot-on it is harder to conceive of so many women flocking to the open Saturdays and taking Will’s self-defence lessons. My overriding issue with the novel however was my dismay at the dud mystery element, the anticlimactic series of reveals and the fudge of a solution to the promise of an original locked-room mystery. The denouement felt like the staggered revelation of several puzzles, none that particularly surprised me, and I will disappointed not to have felt more invested in the whodunnit element. In the end it was Will and her sexuality alone that kept me reading and it is Will that will see me return for a future second book in this series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Smith

    “Fortune Favours the Dead” is a brand new exciting historical crime series from award-winning playwright and journalist Stephen Spotswood. Featuring Ms Lilian Pentecost and Miss WillowJean Parker - New York private detectives set in 1946 New York - these two wonderful characters form a fabulous strong female duo, who are both audacious, spirited and fearless. Narrated by WillowJean (Will), a circus runaway with a catalogue of talents, including knife throwing, wrestling and lock picking, we hear “Fortune Favours the Dead” is a brand new exciting historical crime series from award-winning playwright and journalist Stephen Spotswood. Featuring Ms Lilian Pentecost and Miss WillowJean Parker - New York private detectives set in 1946 New York - these two wonderful characters form a fabulous strong female duo, who are both audacious, spirited and fearless. Narrated by WillowJean (Will), a circus runaway with a catalogue of talents, including knife throwing, wrestling and lock picking, we hear the past events surrounding what looks like an impossible crime but with Lilian and Will on the case, there is no such thing and we are taken on a journey involving seances, murder, family secrets and a wide range of suspects. Lilian’s health is failing, suffering from MS but thriving even through her bad days, determined to continue her work regardless. Enrolling Will into her business was a very smart move, she’s quick witted, sharp, bold and her sexual interest in women made the story modern and up to date. Her love of American dime store crime novels really completed the picture of her and her witty voice throughout the story made for a interesting and engaging read. The agency mostly deals with private investigations but matriarch Lilian also has an ‘open house’ policy on a Saturday, where for those who can’t afford help, go to her for advice and support, while Will offers self defence classes to to women. Although the crux of the crime was a little confusing at times due to the number of possible suspects and long buried secrets, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this intriguing debut in a promising new series and thought the whole creation of Will’s queer character brilliant. There’s a very helpful cast of characters at the start of the novel, which explains who they are and their involvement in the story, to help aid any confusion. The author’s evident inspiration for the novel is based on his love of classic detective stories, Holmes and Christie being his go to reads of his youth. His fascination with mid-century hardboiled American detective stories is what gave him the imagination and courage to introduce a series that looks into the corners of American culture that is so often forgotten. A unique, highly entertaining and fun read which kept me utterly engaged and I would welcome any further books in the Pentecost/Parker series with open arms. 5 stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 ⭐️’s! The story started out good and kept getting better with a payoff that was incredibly satisfying and kept the door open for so much more! Was it Sherlock and Moriarty? Kinda, but more of a Prof. X and Magneto relationship if Prof X was a female detective and Magneto was a loose morals vigilante!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

    After years as a roadie in the circus, Willowjean Parker aka Will has learned some valuable skills she puts to good use as the protege of private detective Lillian Pentecost. Now they are faced with their most difficult case when, after a Halloween party featuring a spiritualist and plenty of booze, the wealthy hostess is found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball in a locked room - in fact, the same room and chair in which her husband had committed suicide the previous year. Could her husban After years as a roadie in the circus, Willowjean Parker aka Will has learned some valuable skills she puts to good use as the protege of private detective Lillian Pentecost. Now they are faced with their most difficult case when, after a Halloween party featuring a spiritualist and plenty of booze, the wealthy hostess is found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball in a locked room - in fact, the same room and chair in which her husband had committed suicide the previous year. Could her husband's death have been murder and could his ghost be back for revenge? Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotsworth is set in New York during the 1940s and harkens back to the classic locked room mysteries of the golden era with a nice touch of '40s noir. It is also hard not to see a nod to Sherlock. None of this is bad. There's plenty of action to keep the story moving as well as an intriguing puzzle to keep the reader guessing. My one criticism - although the story was set in 1945, there is little of the era evident - no mention, for example, of the war and, given the presence of several lgbtq characters, very little about the cruel morality laws of the period. There was a mention near the end of some earlier historical events like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire but, since it occurred in 1911, it seemed an odd historical choice especially given its use here. Admittedly, though, I'm a history buff & this is really just nitpicking. Overall, however, I quite enjoyed the book. The story moved fast enough to keep my interest throughout and I liked the two strong female protagonists as well as a hint of a female Moriarty-like nemesis who I suspect and hope will have a bigger role in future books which, despite my quibble about history, I look forward to reading. Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Doubleday for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Many thanks to Netgalley for the early copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this title and am excited for the next book in the series already! The plot was straight forward and easy to follow, but still kept me guessing up until the very end. I loved Will and Lillian and found them to be likable, intelligent and well drawn characters that I would love to hang out with and have drinks. This book occurs right after World War 2 which is one my favorite time periods. I really appreciated how the author approa Many thanks to Netgalley for the early copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this title and am excited for the next book in the series already! The plot was straight forward and easy to follow, but still kept me guessing up until the very end. I loved Will and Lillian and found them to be likable, intelligent and well drawn characters that I would love to hang out with and have drinks. This book occurs right after World War 2 which is one my favorite time periods. I really appreciated how the author approached his queer characters and the struggles they encounter during this time. I can’t wait to spend more time with Pentecost and Parker and their friends!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    WillowJean Parker has a lot of things in common with Archie Goodwin: swift critical thinking and a fun chameleonish personality, to start with. Having escaped from home she made the circus folk her family until they urged her to take the position offered her by the unimposing but famous lady detective in New York City who would use those practical talents and add even more to her repertoire. This case is a locked room mystery involving a wealthy family, a lot of secrets, and a woman who inveigle WillowJean Parker has a lot of things in common with Archie Goodwin: swift critical thinking and a fun chameleonish personality, to start with. Having escaped from home she made the circus folk her family until they urged her to take the position offered her by the unimposing but famous lady detective in New York City who would use those practical talents and add even more to her repertoire. This case is a locked room mystery involving a wealthy family, a lot of secrets, and a woman who inveigled a place for herself in the family as a kind of medium. There are an abundance of interesting characters but few viable suspects except for the ghost (according to the medium). It takes a lot of due diligence, dancing around the law enforcement involvement, and discreet humor to solve the case with as few negative complications as possible. I requested and received a free ebook copy from Doubleday Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Speas

    Good news, mystery readers, your new favorite sleuthing duo has arrived on the scene! Lillian Pentecost, an elegant lady detective, is not as steady on her feet as she used to be, so she enlists the unique skills of Willowjean Parker, formerly of the traveling circus, and together they take on New York City's most baffling cases. FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD is a refreshing update to a classic Golden Age mystery, serving hard-boiled thrills and laugh-out-loud wit with charm and panache. A fantastic r Good news, mystery readers, your new favorite sleuthing duo has arrived on the scene! Lillian Pentecost, an elegant lady detective, is not as steady on her feet as she used to be, so she enlists the unique skills of Willowjean Parker, formerly of the traveling circus, and together they take on New York City's most baffling cases. FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD is a refreshing update to a classic Golden Age mystery, serving hard-boiled thrills and laugh-out-loud wit with charm and panache. A fantastic read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover buy in all honesty I think it’s something that we’re all huilty of, whether intentionally or not. I’d seen this book, looked at the cover and decided it wasn’t to my taste so just kept on scrolling (as a side point – wouldn’t the world be a better place is more people decided to keep scrolling when they saw something they didn’t like). In case you’re interested, it was the bright yellow cover that I’d seen, maybe my interest would have been piqued if I’d They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover buy in all honesty I think it’s something that we’re all huilty of, whether intentionally or not. I’d seen this book, looked at the cover and decided it wasn’t to my taste so just kept on scrolling (as a side point – wouldn’t the world be a better place is more people decided to keep scrolling when they saw something they didn’t like). In case you’re interested, it was the bright yellow cover that I’d seen, maybe my interest would have been piqued if I’d seen the 1940’s inspired grey cover. Anyway, I kept seeing reviews of just how great Fortune Favours the Dead was and put my initial apprehension aside inorder to get hold of a copy, I’m so glad that I did. This is a truly captivating novel that was well worth reading. Set in 1940’s New York, Fortune Favours the Dead introduces up to Private Investigator Lillian Pentecost and her intelligent assistant Willowjean “Will” Parker. The novel is narrated by Will and opens by introducing us to the two main characters, giving details as to how they met and started working together. It then quickly jumps to 3 years later when they are investigating the murder of Abigail Collins, a wealthy sociality who has been bludgeoned to death by a crystal ball at a Halloween party she is hosting. Found in the exact spot where husband committed suicide a year earlier rumour is rife that it was his spirit that killed her. This novel has more than a hint of Sherlock Holmes about it and is written in a style that I feel stays true to the 1940’s time period. I love that although a murder mystery we are not subject to a gore fest. I’ve read a couple of books recently where the author seemed determined to shock the reader with their murder scene descriptions. Whereas Scotswood has confidently written a pair of characters that can carry the weight of the story. I’m really looking forward to future novels in this series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    3.5 stars. I liked the opening of this series starter. I was intrigued by the narrating protagonist's background in the circus, and the opening scene indicated that her unusual skill set would serve her well. As it turns out, that wasn't as much of an element as I had hoped. The period mystery at the heart of the novel was fairly conventional. It was fine, nothing more. The writing, though, was strong throughout. And Mr. Spotswood has created an interesting duo of female detectives. They're a quir 3.5 stars. I liked the opening of this series starter. I was intrigued by the narrating protagonist's background in the circus, and the opening scene indicated that her unusual skill set would serve her well. As it turns out, that wasn't as much of an element as I had hoped. The period mystery at the heart of the novel was fairly conventional. It was fine, nothing more. The writing, though, was strong throughout. And Mr. Spotswood has created an interesting duo of female detectives. They're a quirky pair, all right. I suspect I would be more enthusiastic--and this is going to sound so terrible--PLEASE don't read any homophobic intent when I say: I have lesbian fatigue. Listen, I've got nothing against lesbians IRL. But there must be some kind of literary trend going on, because these days a ridiculous number of books I read feature lesbian characters. Doesn't matter what time period or genre, they're showing up everywhere. And, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "There's nothing wrong with that." But from a story-telling perspective, for this reader, it's feeling a little stale. That's all I'm saying. So, will I read the next book in the series? Coin toss on that one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Grace W

    (c/p from my review on TheStoryGraph) 4.5 I was so looking forward to this book and I'm delighted that it did not disappoint. I was a little disappointed that I guessed a good chunk of the plot but I'm actually kind of fine with that as it doesn't take away from the quality of the writing nor the intent of the story. Also, the very last twist in the book made me go WAIT WHAT and was delightful. It feels very Sherlock and Holmes but better because they are treated as equals to each other. I would (c/p from my review on TheStoryGraph) 4.5 I was so looking forward to this book and I'm delighted that it did not disappoint. I was a little disappointed that I guessed a good chunk of the plot but I'm actually kind of fine with that as it doesn't take away from the quality of the writing nor the intent of the story. Also, the very last twist in the book made me go WAIT WHAT and was delightful. It feels very Sherlock and Holmes but better because they are treated as equals to each other. I would love to consume more in a series of these two. This story is perfect for a fun, thoughtful mystery that doesn't take the fact of the time period to be racist or homophobic. TW for this book include: suicide, gun related violence, homophobia, antisemitism, gas lighting, outing, domestic abuse, implied child abuse

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary McBride

    Great romp of a mystery in 1940s New York. Instead of Sam Spade, you have two female Private Investigators. Great characters and lots of smart twists. Hope this one is the start of a new series! Loved it! 4.5 ***

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    This was amazing. Queer, fun, noir, and enjoyable. Problem; I read it the day it came out and I’ll have a long wait till the next one. A female/queer Holmes and Watson...mmmm, more like a Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin with a lot more agency. Exceptionally good!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    Ice Storm Book 1. Not a bad book, and perfect for a single-sitting read. I'm still not sold on the overly pulpy cover, but I like the leass enough to revisit them (hopefully the author will cool it on the number of times he reminds us Will likes detective novels). Definitely worthy of a sequel.

  18. 5 out of 5

    MeganRuth - Alohamora Open a Book

    What a fun mystery read into 1940s NYC. I love the strong female leads, and the well paced story. Definitely a great read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    RG

    A fun murder mystery set in 1940s NYC. Great characters, fun plotting and great setting. A great start to a new series. Kinda got Sherlock holmes and Knives out vibes

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    You know an author has a talent for creating likable characters when, only three chapters in, you begin mentally writing future scenes involving those characters. While none of the scenes I composed while walking my dog came to pass, Mr. Spotswood’s future scenes more than compensated. Fortune Favors the Dead is an exciting, absorbing, and sparkling debut that, one very much hopes, is the foundation of a new series. In addition to being filled with terrific characters, the novel has a solid myste You know an author has a talent for creating likable characters when, only three chapters in, you begin mentally writing future scenes involving those characters. While none of the scenes I composed while walking my dog came to pass, Mr. Spotswood’s future scenes more than compensated. Fortune Favors the Dead is an exciting, absorbing, and sparkling debut that, one very much hopes, is the foundation of a new series. In addition to being filled with terrific characters, the novel has a solid mystery told at an unflagging pace, a sweet, daring-for-the-1940s romance, the requisite surprises and red herrings, and a tone that shifts easily and naturally between light and dark. It’s all set down by Will Parker, our indomitable narrator-heroine, in snappy, colorful, page-turning prose. As is frequently the case, Conan Doyle’s template for private detective mystery novels is followed here. We have a Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and even a potential Moriarty, though three of Spotswood’s four are females, and his Lestrade – Lieutenant Lazenby – is refreshingly far above the clueless inspector (and his kin in the genre) in competence. There’s even a version of the Baker Street Irregulars in the Saturday morning visitors Ms. Pentecost assists, and who in turn provide her with information relating to her cases. Interestingly, Ms. Pentecost* is a less clever Holmes (but who isn’t?), and her contributions to this murder mystery are generally secondary to those of Miss Parker, our Watson. But Parker (whose love of pulp detective fiction I identify with) is much more than just a narrator admiringly relating her employer’s feats – she is unmistakably the star of the show. Her immensely engaging personality, her resolve and resourcefulness, and her mistakes, drive the plot and keep our eyes glued to the pages. I was initially drawn to Fortune Favors the Dead when I discovered that Stephen Spotswood is the husband of Jessica Spotswood, the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles trilogy which I thoroughly enjoyed. Clearly, the Muses have favored the Spotswood household! * I waited in vain for Lillian Pentecost to utter the phrase “the spirit moved me”. (I would like to thank Doubleday Books and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of Fortune Favors the Dead in exchange for an honest review.) (This review was also posted on the ReadLove blog: https://dawnreadlove.wordpress.com/ )

  21. 5 out of 5

    Beck Mcclain

    This was a lot of fun. A well-crafted debut mystery that I hope is indeed the start of a series.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)

    My Rating ~ 4.5* Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood was just published November 12th with Wildfire. It is the first in this really brilliant new series starring Lillian Pentecost & Willowjean Parker, a new crime-solving duo. Described as ‘a hugely entertaining murder mystery that taps into the enduring appetite for the Golden Age crime of Agatha Christie, as well as the hardboiled American tradition of Chandler’ it is a Radio 2 Book Club title. From the cover to the premise, this is a b My Rating ~ 4.5* Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood was just published November 12th with Wildfire. It is the first in this really brilliant new series starring Lillian Pentecost & Willowjean Parker, a new crime-solving duo. Described as ‘a hugely entertaining murder mystery that taps into the enduring appetite for the Golden Age crime of Agatha Christie, as well as the hardboiled American tradition of Chandler’ it is a Radio 2 Book Club title. From the cover to the premise, this is a book that grabbed my attention immediately and I was very excited to get stuck in. It certainly did not disappoint. There is something very nostalgic about a book like this, a throw-back to a different era, to a very important time in American culture. The Second World War had just ended and life was beginning again. Stephen Spotswood was very inspired by this time in history having grown up reading Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and graduating to the hard-boiled detective novels he found in his grandmother’s bookshelves. “The war was ending and our national attention turned inward. We had the explosion of the suburbs and the ride of the 2,5 child, white picket fence, two car garage ideal. This established history – much like hard-boiled detective fiction – is male focused and heteronormative as hell. But led by Will Parker and Lillian Pentecost this novel allowed me to look at the corners of American culture that were being erased from history and from reality” – Stephen Spotswood Lillian Pentecost is a force to be reckoned with. She has an uncanny ability to dig deeper than most and see things where others fail. Recognised in the city of New York as the go-to private investigator, Lillian’s workload is always mountainous. On a dark night, she crosses paths with Willowjean Parker, a circus employee who also doubles as nighttime security to make an additional few bob. Willowjean, or Will as she is known, is determined and tough, surviving in a world that has not been particularly kind to her. Lillian Pentecost sees something in Will and makes the decision to take her under her wing, to cultivate her talents. Lillian Pentecost is rather the mysterious individual. Suffering from MS has created obvious difficulties for her but she is of a tenacious personality and, with Will by her side, she intends to continue in her quest for justice. The reader gets only a small glimpse of Lillian Pentecost’s true self when, as events occur, her concern for Will’s safety becomes very obvious. She is mainly a closed door but Will opens her up a little bit only never so much that we see who Lillian Pentecost really is. Fortune Favours the Dead is narrated by Willowjean Parker recounting how she met with Lillian Pentecost. In this first book Will gives us an insight into one of their more interesting cases, the Collins murder. When the wife of an already dead business tycoon is murdered at a party in her own house, the police are unable to solve the case. It is a locked room mystery with no obvious clues and the family are looking for answers. Pentecost and Parker are hired to investigate the murder but soon they become embroiled in something very sinister indeed. Tenacity is the key as the mystery solving duo pick up on the crumbs that no one else can see, uncovering slights of hand and nefarious activities at every turn. The dialogue is fast, the turn of phrase smart, all bringing that hard-boiled element to the fore which I really enjoyed. All the characters in this novel are perfectly cast, all playing their part to perfection, very much bringing this story alive for the reader. Pentecost and Parker are a formidable pair with their own very individual personalities. Will Parker is gay which is an element to this series that the author felt very strongly about, having ‘spent his career as a playwright focusing on women in lead roles and centreing queer characters’. She doesn’t take fools gladly, with a kick-ass approach to everything she does but her will is weakened when she crosses paths with the beautiful and bold society girl, Becca Collins, daughter of the victim, Abigail Collins. Can Will focus on the job at hand to catch a killer or will she be distracted by her attraction to Becca? Lillian Pentecost is a rather enigmatic character. Now in her forties, she is challenged by her condition but refuses to let it define who she is. Every weekend she assists women in the community who are in difficulty in their work, with their husbands or landlords. She runs an open house giving advice and giving back to the community. Her work-hard ethic is exhausting but she persists and, now with Will by her side, Lillian Pentecost knows that her PI business is in safe hands. Fortune Favours the Dead is ultimately a murder mystery but there is so much more between the pages. Stephen Spotswood brilliantly captures this fascinating era giving it a more feminist twist with two intriguing and exciting protagonists who have no fear in a world that is very much a male-dominated one. In creating a detective/crime novel with such a wonderful feisty duo, Stephen Spotswood takes the reader on a rollicking adventure recreating the classic murder mystery. Fortune Favours the Dead is a very impressive beginning to an exhilarating new fiction series and it is lots of fun – something we all most definitely need in our lives at the moment……

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Fortune Favours The Dead is the first book in a brilliant new series by Stephen Spotswood that mixes all the nostalgic charm of the best classic books of the genre into a seemingly traditional murder mystery with some surprisingly modern features. Pentecost and Parker are our unconventional feminist, crime-solving duo succeeding in a post-World War II male-dominated world. Pentecost is a force to be reckoned with in her own right, but failing health and a chance encounter with the extra capable P Fortune Favours The Dead is the first book in a brilliant new series by Stephen Spotswood that mixes all the nostalgic charm of the best classic books of the genre into a seemingly traditional murder mystery with some surprisingly modern features. Pentecost and Parker are our unconventional feminist, crime-solving duo succeeding in a post-World War II male-dominated world. Pentecost is a force to be reckoned with in her own right, but failing health and a chance encounter with the extra capable Parker while on a case forges a partnership that has everything you want and more in a detective novel of the period. This tale is beautifully crafted into an outstanding murder-mystery that brings in elements of some of my absolute favourite detectives and their authors. The story is narrated in an enchanting 'case-book' style by Parker, as sort of a Watson to Pentecost's Holmes, that takes us through the nitty-gritty of the Collins case from the intriguing locked-room murder, all the way through to a thought-provoking encounter with a criminal mastermind Moriarty type figure - but Parker is certainly no Watson! Instead her tale is spun in the way of a hard-boiled gumshoe in the Raymond Chandler mould, and it works perfectly. Throw in more than a little Golden Age murder mystery in the style of the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, and a hint of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown (especially in the form of the splendid housekeeper Mrs Campbell) and you have a winning combination that had me glued to the pages from start to finish. The story plays out in the slickest and most entertaining of ways, against a New York full of a marvellous mix of characters from the so-called cream of society, down to the inhabitants of the dark underbelly of the city, and everyone in between - with dangerous dames and gorgeous guys, violent villains and cunning con-artists, everyone seems to have secrets that they would prefer stayed hidden, including our crime fighting duo. And it is on this front that the more modern elements of the story present themselves, especially in terms of the sexual predilections of some of the characters and the stark reality of the existence of the poorer residents of the city. This really is a cracking book that leads you on a merry dance, and delights you when the pieces finally fall into place - with more than a few nicely contrived surprises. I loved every minute spent with Pentecost and Parker and cannot wait for the next book in the series!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sharon C

    The word that comes to mind to describe Fortune Favors the Dead is delightful! I am a consummate consumer of all mysteries/suspense novels/thrillers, and this novel was such a wonderful change of pace because of its setting. It is, in fact, a mystery, and what makes it so special are the two heroines of the novel. I can only hope that this will be the first in an exciting new series. The stars of the book are Lillian Pentecost, a female Sherlock Holmes who lives to get to the truth of a mystery a The word that comes to mind to describe Fortune Favors the Dead is delightful! I am a consummate consumer of all mysteries/suspense novels/thrillers, and this novel was such a wonderful change of pace because of its setting. It is, in fact, a mystery, and what makes it so special are the two heroines of the novel. I can only hope that this will be the first in an exciting new series. The stars of the book are Lillian Pentecost, a female Sherlock Holmes who lives to get to the truth of a mystery and to help those in need, like poor and abused wives. She's obviously well off, of a certain age, and suffers with MS. At the beginning of the novel, which is set in NYC in 1942, Lillian meets a young woman named Willowjean Parker, aka Will. Will left an abusive home as a teenager and took up with a small traveling circus. She's mucked stalls, assisted the magician, learned to throw knives, and can even walk a tightrope. Lillian is taken with Will's ingenuity and quick thinking, and she asks her to join her private investigation practice as an apprentice, the Watson to Lillian's Holmes. The story in Fortune Favors the Dead is being written by Will. It is a closed door mystery wherein a wealthy woman (Abigail Collins) has planned a seance conducted by one Ariel Belestrade as the highlight of her annual Halloween party. During the seance, Ms. Belestrade channels the late Mr. Collins, and after the seance, Abigail Collins is found bludgeoned to death by a crystal ball in her husband's locked office. Lillian Pentecost is subsequently hired by the Collins children and their godfather to solve this locked door mystery where the only suspect is the ghost of Abigail's deceased husband. Lillian and Will are delightful characters, and the mystery is clever and fast-paced. The book is written in the fashion of a Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane with a sense of humor, but it never comes across as dated. I loved every word and can't wait for more. My thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. Fortune Favors the Dead will be published on October 27, 2020, right in time for Halloween!

  25. 5 out of 5

    John McKenna

    Fortune Favors The Dead, is the first novel from author Stephen Spotswood. It takes place in New York City in 1945, and features a pair of female private eyes in the style and manner of Rex Stout, with Lillian Pentecost, “the most famous woman detective in the city and possible the country,” as the alternative to Nero Wolfe, and her young protégé, Willowjean Parker, standing-in for Archie Goodwin. All similarities end there however, as Mr. Spotswood’s characters are uniquely modern and entirely Fortune Favors The Dead, is the first novel from author Stephen Spotswood. It takes place in New York City in 1945, and features a pair of female private eyes in the style and manner of Rex Stout, with Lillian Pentecost, “the most famous woman detective in the city and possible the country,” as the alternative to Nero Wolfe, and her young protégé, Willowjean Parker, standing-in for Archie Goodwin. All similarities end there however, as Mr. Spotswood’s characters are uniquely modern and entirely his own . . . while honoring the legends of the past such as Miss Marple, Poirot or the aforementioned Nero Wolfe, who solved cases using their minds to observe, reason, and deduct, rather than guns, fists and brute strength. The story is narrated by a twenty-something Willowjean Parker, who’s been hired as an assistant—after running away from home at age fifteen and traveling with a circus for five years—to Ms. Pentecost, who is suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, a progressive wasting disease of the central nervous system. Their case is a murder mystery in which the heiress to a steel company is bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball in a locked room of her Manhattan mansion, where a Halloween party séance was held. The medium turns out to be someone Ms. Pentecost has long suspected of fraudulence and chicanery, but has never faced off with as an adversary. Add in a pair of dysfunctional twins—a girl and a boy, children of the murdered woman—an overprotective godfather to the twins, a menacing foreman at the steel company and a patient, smart and dedicated NYPD detective into the mix . . . one of who becomes a love interest of Willowjean Parker . . . and you have a great cast of traditional characters, suspects and gumshoes to entertain, enthrall, and enthuse us all for some time to come. From the stylish, artsy Art Deco style front cover to its last page, Fortune Favors The Dead is a killer kickoff and a rousing start to what we hope will be a long-lived series!

  26. 4 out of 5

    T

    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD was a bit of a mixed bag. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, but I was bored with the mystery. Since this is Spotswood's debut novel, I'll cut him some slack in the plot department and hope the series picks up from here. Will Parker wants to be a tough and gritty gumshoe. When the preeminent female detective in New York crosses paths with her, Will's talent and potential are rewarded with a job offer. Will Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD was a bit of a mixed bag. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, but I was bored with the mystery. Since this is Spotswood's debut novel, I'll cut him some slack in the plot department and hope the series picks up from here. Will Parker wants to be a tough and gritty gumshoe. When the preeminent female detective in New York crosses paths with her, Will's talent and potential are rewarded with a job offer. Will leaves her past as a circus roadie behind to learn the private eye ropes from Lillian Pentecost. As I mentioned, I'm a fan of both Parker and Pentecost. Spotswood has thrown a bit of diversity and feminism into a traditionally good-ole-boy genre. He's certainly not the first to do so, but his take is refreshingly original. Parker is bisexual (although she doesn't label herself) and Pentecost is chronically ill. Plus, they are operating a woman-owned business in a dangerous, male-dominated industry in 1945. Parker, our narrator, is easy to root for. She makes plenty of mistakes and owns up to them (mostly). She doesn't shy away from danger. She is fiercely loyal to Lillian. And she has a big heart with a soft-spot for battered women. We only see Pentecost through Parker's eyes, which makes it easy to love her as well. Pentecost's illness is ever-present, but so is her spine of steel. I look forward to learning more about Pentecost in future books in this series. The let-down for me was the plot. About halfway through the book, I had already predicted 75% of the ending. There were a few bits that I didn't foresee, but overall, I was not surprised by the identity of the murderer or the motive for the crime. While the plot was lackluster, it did give the reader a chance to get to know the two leading ladies a bit. Let's hope Spotswood's follow-up in the series has a bit more bite. I give FORTUNE 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tilly Fitzgerald

    A fantastic cosy crime debut that takes us back to the glamour of 1940s New York, with a fabulous crime-solving feminist duo - Lillian Pentecost, NY’s most successful PI whose health is starting to fail her, and her assistant, Willowjean Parker, a cunning and surprisingly tough young woman who learnt everything she knows in the circus. Tasked with solving the high profile murder of Abigail Collins, a wealthy young widow found bludgeoned by a crystal ball, the two will have to use all of their wit A fantastic cosy crime debut that takes us back to the glamour of 1940s New York, with a fabulous crime-solving feminist duo - Lillian Pentecost, NY’s most successful PI whose health is starting to fail her, and her assistant, Willowjean Parker, a cunning and surprisingly tough young woman who learnt everything she knows in the circus. Tasked with solving the high profile murder of Abigail Collins, a wealthy young widow found bludgeoned by a crystal ball, the two will have to use all of their wits to outsmart the killer... I absolutely adored this story and am so glad this is the first in a series, because I could quite happily read hours more of this! Spotswood has recreated that wonderful Golden Age crime feeling, but with a brilliant modern twist! Our narrator, Willowjean (‘Will’) is a queer and self-professed ordinary looking twenty-something woman who escaped an abusive father to run away with the circus, and her boss Lillian is a wealthy older woman battling Multiple Sclerosis - both characters are whip-smart, brave and balance each other perfectly. The cast of possible villains is also brilliant - from a glamorous fortune teller to a tough senior manager at the Collins steelworks company, there is an endless list of possibilities that keep you guessing until the very end. I especially loved the big twist at the end (no spoilers!) which implies there will be a much greater nemesis for our duo throughout these stories, much in the way of Moriarty as the overarching villain in the Sherlock stories - I just can’t wait to pick up where this story left off! Glamour, romance, intrigue, death and two absolutely kick-ass female leads who you will be cheering for - what else could you possibly want from your detective mystery?! Outstanding debut and cannot wait for more!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Franca Pelaccia

    It’s the early 1940s in New York and private investigator Lillian Pentecost and her assistant Willowjean or Will Parker are hired to investigate the murder of socialite Abigail Collins. She was found dead in the same chair as her wealthy husband who took his life the previous year. The room was locked from the inside, so rumors abound that she was killed by the spirit of her dead husband. While the police focus on the family’s financial records, Lillian and Will question potential suspects: the It’s the early 1940s in New York and private investigator Lillian Pentecost and her assistant Willowjean or Will Parker are hired to investigate the murder of socialite Abigail Collins. She was found dead in the same chair as her wealthy husband who took his life the previous year. The room was locked from the inside, so rumors abound that she was killed by the spirit of her dead husband. While the police focus on the family’s financial records, Lillian and Will question potential suspects: the beautiful but cold daughter, the angry and resentful son, the secretive godfather, a spooky spiritualist, and a large caste of factory workers with their own stories about the Collins’. Fortune Favors the Dead is a fast paced, lightweight, and engaging whodunit. I felt I was watching film noir and reading an old hard-boiled detective novel, written in a breezy chick lit voice. Both women are ahead of their time. Lillian is a smart no-nonsense woman from the upper crust of life. She makes a good living investigating and solving crimes the police can’t, commands her own life, but opens her doors to help abused women. Will is a street-smart young woman who isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone either verbally or physically or of her own sexuality in an era that wasn’t tolerant. The mystery of who killed Abigail and why is sustained throughout the novel as the plot “thickens” and weaves in and out of characters and suspects and their connection to the Collins’. The ending was satisfying and hinted at a sequel with another female character as a possible nemesis or Moriarty-type figure to Lillian and Will. Overall, the novel gives only passing references to the war or the moral and cultural norms of the day but was fun to read. Reviewed for the Historical Novel Society

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tommeh Bell

    I am not an avid mystery reader, but the Girl in the Dragon Tattoo sort of turned me on to them, and I will admit I've been seeking them out more and more. Fortune Favors the Dead, is a hat tip Sherlock and Watson, but that's where the comparison stops. This book held nothing back, it started with an unconventional main lead and it just kept going. Will Parker, a girl who ran away to join the circus took to the life like a fish to water. She wrung everything bit of knowledge out of the circus an I am not an avid mystery reader, but the Girl in the Dragon Tattoo sort of turned me on to them, and I will admit I've been seeking them out more and more. Fortune Favors the Dead, is a hat tip Sherlock and Watson, but that's where the comparison stops. This book held nothing back, it started with an unconventional main lead and it just kept going. Will Parker, a girl who ran away to join the circus took to the life like a fish to water. She wrung everything bit of knowledge out of the circus and that's what helped her land the job of a lifetime with an equally unconventional private detective. Will is the narrator, but this is more of her story than her trying to capture Lillian Pentecost's story, and I liked that bit. Often times in the buddy-detective stories its all about the uncanny crime solving ability of the detective and the narrator is just the sidekick along to witness the brilliance of the detective. This was a welcome departure of that standard trope. Will Parker was straight forward and easy going. No purple prose or over wrought descriptions. However the story could have been anchored a little more in the setting and the time. We don't get a lot of novels in the 1940s that aren't war stories or survivor diaries. It just seemed like surface descriptions of the setting and not from someone lived and breathed the 1940s New York. The story did drag just a bit and maybe two of three chapters could have been taken out and the novel would still have flowed and gotten to its end just the same. Overall this was an enjoyable read that I hope to see more from this duo in the future.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. Willajean (Will) Parker has been taken under the wing of famous woman detective, Lilian Pentecost. Pentecost needs a right-hand woman to help her with her cases, as her multiple sclerosis often keeps her from doing all she wants and needs to do. The book begins with their meeting, when Will saves Lilian from a killer, and Lilian saves Will from being charged by the police. The two negotiate a partnership, and Lilian begins to teach Will and pay fo I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. Willajean (Will) Parker has been taken under the wing of famous woman detective, Lilian Pentecost. Pentecost needs a right-hand woman to help her with her cases, as her multiple sclerosis often keeps her from doing all she wants and needs to do. The book begins with their meeting, when Will saves Lilian from a killer, and Lilian saves Will from being charged by the police. The two negotiate a partnership, and Lilian begins to teach Will and pay for her training to become a private detective. The story then jumps three years to share the case of Abigail Collins, who died in a locked room, the same room where her husband had died a year before. I loved the fact that Will is a lesbian, and is comfortable in her skin, wearing suits or men's clothes as much as she can. The friendship between Will and Lilian is one I enjoyed reading - sometimes Will is like a daughter, worrying about Lilian, and other times they are equal colleagues, working together to solve the mystery. There is another same-sex relationship in the book, but sharing it would be a big spoiler! However, the writing style of Spotswood wasn't my favorite. It could be that I don't love hard-boiled mysteries, and this is supposed to be an homage to that style of writing. The characters use slang and language that is typical of the 1940s, and sometimes that interrupted my reading rhythm. The story was good, but not great. At first, I wasn't enamored of the characters, but they grew on me. I would read another book about Will and Lilian, but wouldn't rush to read the next one or pre-order it.

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