On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood.
New York, 1945. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she’s a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set. She can pick locks blindfolded, wrestle men twice her size, and throw knives with deadly precision – all of which come in handy working for Ms P.
When wealthy young widow Abigail Collins is murdered and the police are making no progress, Pentecost and Parker are hired by the family to track down the culprit. On Halloween night, there was a costume party at the Collins’ mansion, where a fortune teller performed a séance which greatly disturbed Abigail. Several hours later her body was discovered bludgeoned to death in her late husband’s office. Problem is, the door to the office was locked from the inside. There was no-one else in the room, and the murder weapon was beside the victim; the fortune teller’s crystal ball.
It looks like an impossible crime, but Pentecost and Parker know there is no such thing…
Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood is a classic murder mystery perfect for Sherlock Holmes fans. Told from the point of view of Willowjean Parker, there are echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character, Watson, Holmes’s sidekick.
Will comes from a very unusual background, having once been in the circus. The detective, Lillian Pentecost, takes Will under her wing after she saved her life. Lillian is famous across the country. They soon become involved in a high profile case after a well-known, wealthy family employs her. They are employed to solve the murder of Abigail Collins. Abigail was killed during a Halloween Party at her family home, having been bludgeoned to death following a Séance. The police have so far failed to find any trace of the killer. The family put their trust in Lillian and Will.
I loved the spooky atmosphere of this piece. With the Séance, there is a hint of the supernatural, which is what I really liked about this book. It added to the mystery element really well. I really liked how Stephen Spotswood explored this aspect of the plot as the novel progressed.
The novel takes place in 1946 in New York, just towards the end of the Second World War. The setting and the historical element, for me, made it feel very fresh. I really liked how Stephen Spotswood brought mid-twentieth-century New York to life.
This was such an absorbing read. Both Lillian and Will’s characters are brought to life really well by Stephen Spotswood. I liked the relationship they had together, and you can see how much they trust one another. Will also really cares for Lillian, particularly as she has multiple sclerosis. Will is always keen to make sure that she doesn’t do too much. I was gripped by the mystery in the book. I wanted to find out what was really going on the night of Abigail Collins’s death. I also wanted to know if Lillian and Will would be able to solve it. The story moves along quickly and I the Stephen Spotswood kept the pace flying forward.
Fortune Favours the Dead is an entertaining mystery novel which will keep you invested in the characters. I’m really hoping that they’re going to return in future books. I really enjoyed it.
Publication date: 12th November 2020
Print length: 336 pages
Fortune Favours the Dead is available to buy: