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Fortune Favours the Dead

Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

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By Stephen Spotswood

avg rating

5 reviews

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-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…


06 Mar 2021


An interesting concept and nice flowing easy style. The setting almost felt modern in my imagination and the main character Willow Jean added to that somehow. The plot twists tested me in some parts and the tying up of loose ends at the finish felt a little tedious but overall it was a book I was happy keep reading.

23 Feb 2021


A really quirky, unusual detective novel with 2 refreshing and interesting female leads. Humour, intrigue a great plot. LOVED IT! Love Willow jean a woman of our times set in a period setting.
Hope there will be more to come.

23 Feb 2021


A refreshingly different detective mystery. I took me a while to get into the style of writing but I soon settled in to it. I realised the style reminded me of an updated Ray Chandler - I remember reading him when I was a teenager. I loved that the lives of the characters were intertwined with the mysteries and that the characters were alive, strong and interesting. Quickly got to like Will the narrator and Mrs P and found the twists and turns well written. Having strong female characters was great but not forced, and also thought that reflecting gay characters of the time made it much more real and appreciated lack of stereotypes. Really enjoyed the style and found it easy to read. Amusing, well written and thought provoking too and glad we got in at the beginning of this detective pair. We have read if for our reading group but not discussed it yet.

23 Feb 2021


Not my usual read but I thought this
was great fun - 2 female detectives in 1950s New York, very much in the style of Raymond Chandler. The story romped along, I hope it’s the first in a series as I think Lillian Pentecost and Willow have a few more stories in them!

02 Dec 2020


A brilliantly fun detective story with two fantastic females leads.

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