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Fortune Favors the Dead

(Pentecost and Parker #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,337 ratings  ·  300 reviews
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 dap
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published October 27th 2020 by Doubleday Books
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raina jensen same here! Even the title makes me think he's being helped by the dead, for him helping the dead. …moresame here! Even the title makes me think he's being helped by the dead, for him helping the dead. (less)
Stephen Spotswood Morgan--Sorry I didn't see this question earlier. Will is bisexual. Thanks for all the work you do as a librarian, and for helping readers find queer …moreMorgan--Sorry I didn't see this question earlier. Will is bisexual. Thanks for all the work you do as a librarian, and for helping readers find queer characters!(less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Start your review of Fortune Favors the Dead (Pentecost and Parker, #1)
Set during the final years of WW2 in New York, Stephen Spotswood writes the first of a delightful historical murder mystery series featuring the famous female PI, Lillian Pentecost, with her detective agency and narrated by her assistant, the street smart Willowjean 'Will' Parker, an ex-cirky girl with an unusual skill set acquired after becoming a jack of all trades at the circus, after running away from home. It was her knife throwing skills that saved Lillian on their first meeting that led t ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Publisher summary:
"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...."

The first book in th
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
“Fortune Favours the Dead” is a brand new exciting historical crime series from award-winning playwright and journalist Stephen Spotswood. Featuring Ms Lilian Pentecost and Miss WillowJean Parker - New York private detectives set in 1946 New York - these two wonderful characters form a fabulous strong female duo, who are both audacious, spirited and fearless. Narrated by WillowJean (Will), a circus runaway with a catalogue of talents, including knife throwing, wrestling and lock picking, we hear ...more
Gail C.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the first in a proposed new mystery series that defines further genre identification. It has a strong female protagonist, and indeed some issues regarding equality for women running through it. It is also written in the hard-boiled style in terms of some of its sentence structure combined with some of the action that would find itself at home in many hardboiled novels. On the other hand, it has little violence and no typical “gun moll” or distressed female beauty seeking the help of a do ...more
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fortune Favours the Dead is the first instalment in the Pentecost and Parker Murder Mystery series, featuring Private Investigator Lillian Pentecost, who runs her own detective agency, alongside her assistant, intelligent and cultured Willowjean ”Will” Parker. It's 1942 and Will 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, ...more
Etain Ryan
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Oh my! I loved this far more than I thought I would. Badass lady detectives in the 1940s. One a bisexual circus runaway and the other is the leading lady detective in New York who has the instincts of all the greats. She has MS but that is not used as a gimmick it is written as a part of who she is. She is all the more badass for it.

It was a fun story with all the classic twists needed in a mystery. I am rubbish at figuring these things out so I had a few surprises along the way. Very excited to
Maine Colonial
I received a free advance review copy from the publisher, via Netgalley.

In his first mystery novel, Spotswood imagines that two of New York’s finest private investigators in 1946 are Lillian Pentecost, a late middle-aged woman fighting against the encroaching enfeeblement of multiple sclerosis, and her investigator, young Willowjean Parker, aka Will. Will is a young woman who ran away from home at 15, joined the circus, and was eventually taken on by Pentecost as her protegé.

Pentecost is hired t
Rachel Hall
Patchy period detail and an uninspiring plot let down a promising gender bending PI team.

Fortune Favours the Dead is an offbeat homage to hard-boiled American crime fiction and introduces a promising new gender bending detective duo. Lilian Pentecost is New York’s leading female detective but is suffering from a degenerative disease that is increasingly holding her back with the demanding legwork of the job. When she meets twenty-year-old circus girl Willowjean “Will” Parker at a crime scene and
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-read, mystery
This was fantastic! The energy, and dare I say it, the pluck, of main character Willowjean Parker shines through this narrative of her and her older partner and friend Lillian Pentecost.
Willowjean works as a Jack of all trades at a carnival, and meets Lillian one night. After saving Lillian’s life, Lillian offers Willowjean a job as her assistant.
Lillian suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), and trains Willowjean in her work. Willowjean does the legwork and research, and though Lillian’s health
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted anything as badly as I want to be best friends with Will Parker.

This book is about as close to perfect as it gets, and a huge part of that is the outstanding Miss Willowjean Parker, aka Will. As protagonists go, she’s as good as they get. And the surrounding cast? Also excellent, every one of them.

Spotswood’s exceptional cast of characters is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes this novel so wonderful. I went into this book thinking it was going to be a semi
Cery Carlson
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book fell into my lap quite by chance, having been tossed there along with a pile of several others with nothing in common except they were doomed for a library discard pile. Here's where I'll state that the copy I read was an uncorrected proof, and as such I won't post any quotes here. Though there are many that I wish I could.

I'll admit that I am a sucker for pulp detective fiction, specifically films, and so I gravitated toward this book above the others. And boy, am I glad I did. This r
Grace W
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
(c/p from my review on TheStoryGraph) 4.5 I was so looking forward to this book and I'm delighted that it did not disappoint. I was a little disappointed that I guessed a good chunk of the plot but I'm actually kind of fine with that as it doesn't take away from the quality of the writing nor the intent of the story. Also, the very last twist in the book made me go WAIT WHAT and was delightful. It feels very Sherlock and Holmes but better because they are treated as equals to each other. I would ...more
Elizabeth (Literary Hoarders)
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this mystery, and I’m so glad that it appears to be the first in a series. Pentecost and Parker stole my heart. What a formidable and wonderful crime-solving duo! Definitely looking forward to the next installment.
This was brilliant and oh so much fun! The writing is clever and the characters feel real in all the ways you wish they were. Truly lovely and I can't wait for more! The audiobook has a bit of magic to it! ...more
Linda Kelly
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this tale of two post war New York female detectives. Sped through it. I loved the characters of Willowjean Parker and Lillian Pentecost and can't wait to read more of their adventures. ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
After years as a roadie in the circus, Willowjean Parker aka Will has learned some valuable skills she puts to good use as the protege of private detective Lillian Pentecost. Now they are faced with their most difficult case when, after a Halloween party featuring a spiritualist and plenty of booze, the wealthy hostess is found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball in a locked room - in fact, the same room and chair in which her husband had committed suicide the previous year. Could her husban ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
debating on the rating, but for now it's a low 3. i don't think i particularly enjoyed the dialogue or setting until like halfway into it. ideally this is how crime mysteries are supposed to be, but the first half should grab your attention as much as the bits leading up to the reveal. i do have the say the second half was pretty good, and then the extra stuff at the end lost my interest again. idk it felt very long even though it's a little over 300 pages. i reaaaaallly wanted to like it. also ...more
Sea Carlson
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Sea by: Cery Carlson
My wife read this to me while I was doing some cross-stitch, which allowed me to escape into the world of visuals in my brain for this story. I have ADHD so it helps a lot to have my hands busy, but can make it hard to read when I do so. This book snatched my attention right off the bat, I was really excited to barrel through the twists and turns but was extremely satisfied with the pacing of this book.

What I really liked was that even though I had my suspicions of what was going to happen, and
Many thanks to Netgalley for the early copy. I thoroughly enjoyed this title and am excited for the next book in the series already! The plot was straight forward and easy to follow, but still kept me guessing up until the very end. I loved Will and Lillian and found them to be likable, intelligent and well drawn characters that I would love to hang out with and have drinks. This book occurs right after World War 2 which is one my favorite time periods. I really appreciated how the author approa ...more
WillowJean Parker has a lot of things in common with Archie Goodwin: swift critical thinking and a fun chameleonish personality, to start with. Having escaped from home she made the circus folk her family until they urged her to take the position offered her by the unimposing but famous lady detective in New York City who would use those practical talents and add even more to her repertoire. This case is a locked room mystery involving a wealthy family, a lot of secrets, and a woman who inveigle ...more
Rebecca Speas
Good news, mystery readers, your new favorite sleuthing duo has arrived on the scene! Lillian Pentecost, an elegant lady detective, is not as steady on her feet as she used to be, so she enlists the unique skills of Willowjean Parker, formerly of the traveling circus, and together they take on New York City's most baffling cases. FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD is a refreshing update to a classic Golden Age mystery, serving hard-boiled thrills and laugh-out-loud wit with charm and panache. A fantastic r ...more
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover buy in all honesty I think it’s something that we’re all huilty of, whether intentionally or not. I’d seen this book, looked at the cover and decided it wasn’t to my taste so just kept on scrolling (as a side point – wouldn’t the world be a better place is more people decided to keep scrolling when they saw something they didn’t like). In case you’re interested, it was the bright yellow cover that I’d seen, maybe my interest would have been piqued if I’d ...more
Jacob Collins
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 him under her wing after he saved her life. She is famous across the country. They soon become involved in a high profile case after a well-k
Susan Tunis
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I liked the opening of this series starter. I was intrigued by the narrating protagonist's background in the circus, and the opening scene indicated that her unusual skill set would serve her well.

As it turns out, that wasn't as much of an element as I had hoped. The period mystery at the heart of the novel was fairly conventional. It was fine, nothing more. The writing, though, was strong throughout.

And Mr. Spotswood has created an interesting duo of female detectives. They're a quir
Lisa Malmquist
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
A noir style detective story. Set in 1942 and Willowjean Parker meets a lady detective named Lillian Pentecost. At the time Willowjean had just saved the life of the detective using her hard won knife throwing skills.
Willowjean grew up with the circus and has a lot of varied skills but no real prospects.
Lillian offers Willowjean employment and proceeds to train her in everything she might need to know to survive as a detective's assistant. How to drive, self defense, math, writing, shorthand, ty
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
this was fun! esp as i relish a mystery.

fun stuff: will, a former carny, now assistant to lillian pentecost after some dramatic events in a late-night construction site, thinks back on the early days of her association with the great nyc detective. will devours hardboiled dime mysteries, has a saviour streak and is overall charming to spend time with if a little sanctimonious. increasingly so in her interactions with abigail collins.

there are all the cosy things that make a mystery - as well a
T. M. Kuta
Okay, this book was good. REALLY good. Every plot point had a purpose. I learned a lot about telling yarns and characters voices, and dropping red herrings in amongst the bits. Highly recommend the book! I would heavily brand this book with a content warning of suicide, because it comes up several times.

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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 Gre ...more

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Pentecost and Parker (2 books)
  • Murder Under Her Skin (Pentecost and Parker #2)

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