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Fortune Favours the Dead

(Pentecost and Parker #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  679 ratings  ·  159 reviews
The first in the brilliant new Pentecost and Parker series, FORTUNE FAVOURS THE DEAD is a hugely entertaining murder mystery set in 1940s New York City.

New York, 1946. 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-
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 12th 2020 by Wildfire (first published October 27th 2020)
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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 4.11  · 
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Start your review of Fortune Favours 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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2021-read
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
Grace W
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Susan Tunis
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.

Mary McBride
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great romp of a mystery in 1940s New York.
Instead of Sam Spade, you have two female Private Investigators.
Great characters and lots of smart twists.
Hope this one is the start of a new series!
Loved it!

4.5 ***
This was amazing. Queer, fun, noir, and enjoyable. Problem; I read it the day it came out and I’ll have a long wait till the next one.

A female/queer Holmes and Watson...mmmm, more like a Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin with a lot more agency. Exceptionally good!
Geonn Cannon
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ice Storm Book 1. Not a bad book, and perfect for a single-sitting read. I'm still not sold on the overly pulpy cover, but I like the leass enough to revisit them (hopefully the author will cool it on the number of times he reminds us Will likes detective novels). Definitely worthy of a sequel. ...more
MeganRuth - Alohamora Open a Book
What a fun mystery read into 1940s NYC. I love the strong female leads, and the well paced story. Definitely a great read.
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fun murder mystery set in 1940s NYC. Great characters, fun plotting and great setting. A great start to a new series. Kinda got Sherlock holmes and Knives out vibes
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

You know an author has a talent for creating likable characters when, only three chapters in, you begin mentally writing future scenes involving those characters. While none of the scenes I composed while walking my dog came to pass, Mr. Spotswood’s future scenes more than compensated. Fortune Favors the Dead is an exciting, absorbing, and sparkling debut that, one very much hopes, is the foundation of a new series.

In addition to being filled with terrific characters, the novel has a solid myste
This is a wonderfully written novel whose main characters are an older private eye who suffers from my multiple sclerosis and her new assistant, Willowjean Parker a.k.a. Will. The year is 1942 and it is quickly apparent of how social mores have changed since then. These women make wonderful partners and I do hope that there are more of these books written. Will deserves to have further development as a character. She’s interesting.
Beck Mcclain
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lot of fun. A well-crafted debut mystery that I hope is indeed the start of a series.
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great mystery novel that doesn't quite stick the landing. But that didn't take away from my enjoyment.
It's 1946 and Willowjean (Will) Parker is working with Private Investigator Lillian Pentecost.
They are soon investigating a 'locked room' mystery.
Great characters and a good flow.
The end was a little busy for me, but again, that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story.
I look forward to the 2nd book in This series.
Dan Bassett
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lillian and Willowjean are the best private detectives in the city, but their latest case seems like an impossible crime...
Abigail Collins was found with a rather large crystal ball sized dent in her head during a Halloween party at her mansion.
Her body is found in the same chair her husband took his own life in the year before. The problem? The door was locked from the inside....
The police are stumped, and the family want answers....
You follow Willowjean Parker, an ex Circus worker who winds up
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published at Reading Reality

I picked this up this week because I was a bit unsatisfied with the Holmes collection over the weekend. I was still left with a taste for a bit of classic mystery with a twist – or two or ten – and for something a bit more Holmes-like than that collection.

Fortune Favors the Dead turned out to be everything I wanted, even if in the end it was nothing I expected. And that’s a great thing!

The story here is about a detective duo at the very beginning of their p
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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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