Summary and book reviews of Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

Fortune Favors the Dead

Pentecost and Parker #1

by Stephen Spotswood

Fortune Favors the Dead by  Stephen Spotswood X
Fortune Favors the Dead by  Stephen Spotswood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Oct 2020, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A wildly charming and fast-paced mystery written with all the panache of the hardboiled classics, Fortune Favors the Dead introduces Pentecost and Parker, an audacious new detective duo for the ages.

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 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.

CHAPTER 1



The first time I met Lillian Pentecost, I nearly caved her skull in with a piece of lead pipe.

I had scored a few shifts working guard duty at a building site on West Forty-second. A lot of the crew on Hart and Hal loway's Traveling Circus and Sideshow picked up gigs like that whenever we rolled into a big city. Late-night and off-day gigs where we could clock in after a performance and get paid cash on the barrel.

There were more jobs like that available in those years. A lot of the men who'd usually have taken them were overseas hoping for a shot at Hitler. When you're desperate to fill a post, even a twenty-year-old cirky girl starts to look good.

Not that it required much of a résumé. It was a knuckle head job. Walk the fenced-in perimeter from eleven until dawn and keep an eye out for anyone slipping through the fence. If anyone did, I was supposed to ring a bell and shout and make a ruckus to drive them away. If they refused, I ran and found a cop.

At ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The urgency of the case — will the murderer strike again? — keeps the plot moving at a fairly quick pace, but there are plenty of slower, more reflective moments that give balance to the story by placing focus on the characters themselves. In addition to Lillian and Will, there are complex, independent women in almost every other role: bystanders, victim, love interest and suspects. Set in New York City in the mid-1940s, the story reflects the changing position of women in society as well as the level of freedom and exhilaration found throughout the country following World War II. The novel's female characters make the most of these changing times, not caring how they're seen by others as long as they're being true to themselves...continued

Full Review Members Only (750 words).

(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness
Sparkles [with] wit and personality...Delightful...This mystery plot has all the twists and surprises a fan of the genre could ask for, but it is Will’s distinctive, captivating voice and background [that] is Spotswood’s real triumph...Gutsy Will, with her snappy, slangy narrative style, ultimately wins readers’ hearts and carries the day. This classic noir-style mystery recast with humor, female leads and superb style is both satisfying and great fun.

CrimeReads
A relentlessly entertaining romp through 1940’s New York City, and through the annals of mystery fiction, as well, with many sly nods to authors of the past and some invigorating reinventions of classic tropes and gambits...Spotswood’s style is swift and witty, and the mystery at the novel’s heart is a clever knot.

BookPage (starred review)
Fortune Favors the Dead...has the hallmarks of an Agatha Christie mystery, and there’s a delightful dose of noir thrown in for the more hardcore pulp fiction crowd, too...It’s as mysterious and fun a caper as you will ever read, with plenty of misdirection and intrigue to keep you guessing. You don’t need a clairvoyant to realize this duo will be around for years to come.

Kirkus Reviews
A sprightly period debut...Spotswood supplies scattershot period detail...mild wisecracks, an anticlimactic solution to that locked-room puzzle, and a Chinese box of denouements: If your chosen suspect isn't pronounced guilty, just wait a few pages. The most striking feature is the provocative gender-flipping of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

Library Journal
[A] light, breezy 'popcorn' book that will keep readers engaged from start to finish...This is a fun whodunit for high schoolers up through adults. It's easy to pick up and put down again, perfect for a cozy weekend read.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A] stellar debut...The deep and sensitive characterization of the two protagonists, coupled with rich description and tonally spot-on humor, make this a novel to remember. Spotswood is definitely a writer to watch.

Author Blurb Alan Bradley, bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce Mystery Series
Bullets, blood, bodies, and belly-laughs: all the ingredients of a classic mystery novel. Stephen Spotswood hard-boils with the best of 'em!

Author Blurb Deanna Raybourn, author of the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries
Fortune Favors the Dead takes gritty 40s noir, shakes it up, gives it a charming twist, and serves it up with unforgettable style. My new favorite sleuthing duo are Pentecost and Parker, the spiritual sisters of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. An utterly brilliant debut!

Reader Reviews

jw

Detective with a twist
I just finished reading this book and loved it. Wasn't quite sure what to expect. Women detectives - one who lived with a circus for many years - it was a little different and interesting. Would highly recommend it. I am looking forward to the ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Sidekick Character in Detective Fiction

Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes In Fortune Favors the Dead, being in the wrong place at the right time earns Will Parker the job of assistant to Lillian Pentecost, New York City's classiest and most unorthodox private investigator. Although Lillian's worsening multiple sclerosis is her initial motivation for hiring the younger woman, Will possesses a keen eye and a unique skillset that make her the perfect partner for the lady detective. As the two work together to solve some of the city's strangest mysteries, they soon develop a classic detective-sidekick relationship.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't invent detective stories — that honor belongs to Edgar Allen Poe, whose 1841 "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," featuring the famous C. Auguste Dupin, is generally ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Fortune Favors the Dead, try these:

  • Eight Perfect Murders jacket

    Eight Perfect Murders

    by Peter Swanson

    Published 2021

    About this book

    More books by this author

    From the hugely talented author of Before She Knew Him comes a chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction's most ingenious murders.

  • The Hocus Girl jacket

    The Hocus Girl

    by Chris Nickson

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Thief-taker Simon Westow must save one of his closest friends from a grim fate at the hands of the government in this compelling historical mystery.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    by Ellen Cooney
    In One Night Two Souls Went Walking, we follow a young interfaith chaplain as she carries out her ...
  • Book Jacket: Truthtelling
    Truthtelling
    by Lynne Schwartz
    The word "unsayable" can mean something is too vast to be put into words. Alternatively, it can ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book Collectors
    The Book Collectors
    by Delphine Minoui
    About halfway through The Book Collectors, I was disappointed. I came into the book with a ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
    by Ursula Hegi

    Set on a German island in 1878, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline
The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.