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.

The Art Fiasco by Fiona Veitch Smith

Thank you to Fern Lindsey-Tolley at Lion Hudson Limited for inviting me to join the blog tour for The Art Fiasco. I loved the sound of the synopsis, which I’ve listed below.

Synopsis:

It’s 1924 and Poppy Denby is heading up to Northumberland to celebrate her father’s sixtieth birthday. She stops off in Newcastle en route to visit her Aunt Dot, who has temporarily relocated from London to renovate a house she’s inherited. One of Aunt Dot’s guests is the world-renowned artist, Agnes Robson, who is staging an exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery. Reluctantly, Poppy is roped in to help when the artist’s press liaison man falls ill.

She soon discovers that the local press has dug up some dirt on Agnes relating to the tragic death of a young art teacher in Ashington Colliery, twenty-seven years earlier. As she tries to suppress the story, Poppy begins to suspect that the teacher might have been murdered and that the killer may still be on the loose…

‘Poppy Denby’s latest investigation combines an intriguing cold case mystery with a murder puzzle set in Newcastle in 1924. Complete with map and cast of characters, this is great fun for fans of mysteries set during detection’s Golden Age.’ Martin Edwards, CWA Diamond Dagger winner and author of The Golden Age of Murder.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Fiona Veitch Smith, so I haven’t read any of the previous Poppy Denby Investigates books but that wasn’t a problem to understanding the story. However I would now like to go back to read the earlier books.

Poppy Denby is a reporter and amateur detective. On a short break to visit family, she finds herself involved in helping solve the murder of Agnes, who was preyed on by an art teacher when young.

I cannot comment on the accuracy of the historical features of the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Poppy, Delilah and Yasmin are strong female characters in an era when many women still didn’t have the right to vote.

I enjoyed this murder mystery story, as there were a number of people in the frame for murder for a variety of reasons. We also have a mystery about the history of a couple of paintings, a suspected blackmail, a sixtieth birthday, romance and the opening of a play. If you enjoy murder mysteries and/or historical fiction then I recommend trying this book – this was one of those books I didn’t want to put down and stayed up late into the night to read.

About the author

Fiona Veitch Smith is the author of the Poppy Denby Investigates novels, Golden Age-style murder mysteries set in the 1920s, about a reporter sleuth who works for a London tabloid. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, while subsequent books have been shortlisted for the Foreword Review Mystery Novel of the Year and the People’s Book Prize. She is formerly a journalist, having worked on the arts and crime beats of a Cape Town newspaper, and lectured in journalism in the UK for over a decade. She is currently the Deputy Editor of the CWA’s Red Herrings Magazine. http://www.poppydenby.com.

The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, sees Poppy arriving in London from her home in Northumberland to look after her paraplegic Aunt Dot. Aunt Dot is an infamous suffragette who was crippled in clashes with the police outside the Houses of Parliament in 1910. She encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globewhich is owned by American expat, Rollo Rolandson, a hard-drinking but highly astute newspaperman who has dwarfism. On Poppy’s first day on the job a senior reporter dies under suspicious circumstances and she takes over the story he was investigating before his demise. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier and the powerful people who are now trying to hide the truth

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.

View all my reviews

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this impressive debut novel by Alex Pavesi. Thank you to Michael Joseph at Penguin UK for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.

But that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.

If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary. But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .

My thoughts:

As I’ve already stated above, this is a very impressive debut novel. full of lies, secrets and murder mysteries. I’ve enjoyed reading murder mystery books over the years, starting with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, then onto PD James and Agatha Christie.

However this book takes this genre to the next level. Julia is hoping to solve a mystery, as she reads the thirty year old stories back to the author, hiding on a secluded island. This book takes so many twists and turns, that I think I need to read it again, now I know how it ended. At no stage did I see the ending (or endings) coming.

This is a set of books within a book which should be enjoyed as a book and also be made into a film. Apologies for the brief review – I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

Waterstones order link : bit.ly/EightDetectives_HB