Fortune Favours The Dead by Stephen Spotswood #publicationday #debutnovel2020

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.

Synopsis:

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.

My thoughts:

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.

Author Bio:

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.

Cows Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne

Today I’m taking sharing a second book review on my book blog as part of the Cow’s Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne, published by Neem Tree Press blog tour organised by the lovely Anne Cater at the Random Things Tours. Thank you for providing a copy of the book – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by my gift.

Synopsis:

17-year-old Billy has just left school with no A levels and he’s desperate to escape middle England. As a grave-digger, he’s working the ultimate dead-end job. Billy’s home life isn’t any better. In the evenings, he observes his dysfunctional family: his Grandad’s engaged to a woman half his age, his xenophobic Dad’s become obsessed with boxing, and he suspects his deeply religious Mum is having an affair. 

All the while, celebrities are dropping like flies and Britain is waiting for the EU referendum. Everything is changing, and Billy hates it.

Meeting Eva, though, changes everything. She’s Swiss, passionate about Russian literature, Gary Numan, windfarms and chai tea, and Billy gambles everything for a chance to be with her.

When things start to go wrong, Billy’s journey across Europe involves hitch-hiking with truckers, walking with refugees, and an encounter with suicidal cows. But the further he goes, the harder it is to be sure what he’s chasing – and what he’s running from.

My thoughts:

Thanks for visiting my book blog today for my review on this debut novel by Philip Bowne. This book won the Spotlight First Novel Prize from Adventures in Fiction, has been long listed for the Not The Booker Prize from the Guardian and left me laughing, blushing and feeling sad in places.

This is one of a handful of books I’ve read this year with a male main character. Billy is turning 18 in 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum and the American Presidential election. As the synopsis mentions, Billy is in the ultimate dead end job as a grave digger at the start of the book. However his life changes when he starts work at an International School and falls for Eva.

We follow Billy as he struggles with his jobs, his parents and his first big romance. When he tries to put the money together to visit Eva in Switzerland he ends up in more trouble. When he finally flies out to Switzerland, he ends up on a grand tour of Europe to find Eva. In a year when many of us are unable to travel, then join Billy as he treks across mainland Europe to meet the love of his life.

This book is full of so many interesting characters, including Christoph, the owner of the cows who can’t jump. I enjoyed how the story looked at Billy’s relationships with his family, work colleagues and the people he met on his travels. This book is modern, funny, tragic and poignant, a stunning debut novel, and I look forward to reading more by Philip Bowne in the future.

Author Bio:

Philip Bowne lives in London and works as a writer for The Wombles, a children’s entertainment brand. 

Like his protagonist, Billy, Phil attended a failing and severely under-resourced school in Bicester, Oxfordshire. However, unlike Billy, Phil ended up studying English Literature and Creative Writing at university.

While studying, Phil published short stories in literary magazines and anthologies in the UK, US, Canada and Germany. After graduating, Phil spent time in Europe and the US, working and volunteering in various roles and settings: repairing boats at Lake Como, housekeeping at a mountain lodge in California and working with charity Care4Calais in the former Calais ‘jungle’ refugee camp.Cows Can’t Jump is Phil’s debut novel, which he worked on while managing a bar in London. As well as a writer for The Wombles, Phil also works on a number of independent writing projects, including a musical set in 1970’s Soho and a sitcom set in a failing leisure centre.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

I’m thrilled to share my full review for this impressive debut novel today. Thank you to Viking Books and Penguin Books UK for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my views are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My thoughts:

I must admit that this was even better than I expected – sometimes when a book receives lots of hype, it can leave you disappointed. But this one deserves the hype.

As someone who enjoys amateur detective stories (I started with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a teenager), this was an enjoyable read. Great characters, most of them over 70, and so many topical British comments including Pizza Express for an alibi! A book full of secrets and more than one murder.

The story flowed well, a few red herrings, and lots of different stories inside one book. Personally I’m hoping for a sequel so we can meet the Thursday Murder Club again.

Author Bio:

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel. He is well known for TV shows including Pointless and Richard Osman’s House of Games. As the creative director of Endemol UK, Richard has worked as an executive producer on numerous shows including Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. He is also a regular on panel and game shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You and Taskmaster.

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The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant

I’m pleased to share my review today for the debut novel by Clare Marchant. Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy via Netgalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Two women. Five centuries apart.
One life-changing secret about to be unearthed…

1538
New bride Eleanor impresses her husband by growing saffron, a spice more valuable than gold. His reputation in Henry VIII’s court soars – but fame and fortune come at a price, for the king’s favour will not last forever…

2019
When Amber discovers an ancient book in her grandfather’s home at Saffron Hall, the contents reveal a dark secret from the past. As she investigates, so unravels a forgotten tragic story and a truth that lies much closer to home than she could have imagined…

An enchanting historical novel about love and hope in dangerous times, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Kathryn Hughes.

My thoughts:


A 4.5 star read rounded up to 5.

I enjoy reading time slip novels and thoroughly enjoyed this one. The two time periods were both interesting but I enjoyed the Tudor time period the most. The historical details were fascinating and the storytelling was superb. The link between the two eras was equally interesting and heartbreaking – if you have experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth, this may be a difficult read.

A very impressive debut novel and I’m looking forward to reading more by Clare Marchant in the future.



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