Thank you to Caitlyn Raynor at Wildfire Books (Headline) for this distinctive proof copy of debut novel Fortune Favours the Dead. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Fortune Favours the Dead is published today in the UK.
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.
2020 may be a year of a global pandemic but it is also a year of discovering stunning debut novels, and this is definitely one of my favourites. Set in 1940’s New York, Stephen Spotswood has created two great detectives, young Will Parker and the more experienced Lillian Pentecost.
The opening chapters set the pace of the book. The first meeting of Pentecost and Parker was one that changed the life of Parker (and saved the life of Pentecost). The story is told by Parker, who jumps ahead in time from the first meeting, to tell us about their investigations into the deaths of the Collins family.
How could Abigail Collins have been murdered in a locked room, a room that only locked from the inside? And the same room as the one where her husband was found dead, apparently from self inflicted injuries a year earlier.
I loved the setting of the book in post war New York, with a great mixture of characters for all walks of life. So many suspects, from the twin children to their godfather, to the woman who claimed to be able to talk to the dead, to the managers of the Collins business empire who didn’t want to lose a lucrative Government contract.
I raced through this book, desperate to find out what happened next. This book is one of the fastest paced mystery books I’ve ever read, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing (and this reader didn’t guess correctly!)
I’m thrilled to see that a series of books are planned. This new detective duo of Pentecost and Parker are just what the book doctor ordered.
Stephen Spotswood is an award-winning playwright, journalist, and educator. As a journalist, he has spent much of the last two decades writing about the aftermath of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the struggles of wounded veterans. His dramatic work has been produced nationwide and includes Girl In The Red Corner (winner of the 2017 Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play), In The Forest She Grew Fangs, Doublewide, and more. His debut novel, Fortune Favors The Dead, will be released by Doubleday in October 2020. He makes his home in Washington, D.C., with his wife, young-adult author Jessica Spotswood.