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Fortune Favors the Dead  By  cover art

Fortune Favors the Dead

By: Stephen Spotswood
Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
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Publisher's Summary

“Razor-sharp style, tons of flair, a snappy sense of humor, and all the most satisfying elements of a really good noir novel, plus plenty of original twists of its own.” (Tana French)

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.

©2020 Stephen Spotswood (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

Winner of the 2021 Nero Award

"Spotswood's stellar debut puts a modern spin on the classic hard-boiled fiction... The deep and sensitive characterization of the two protagonists coupled with the rich description and tonally spot-on humor, makes this a novel to remember. Spotswood is definitely a writer to watch." —Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*

“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.”—CrimeReads 

“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.” —Shelf Awareness

What listeners say about Fortune Favors the Dead

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Stick with Rex Stout

Sloppy updating of Nero Wolfe, Archie and Fritz. Same city, same characters, even same number of principal characters except they’ve been swapped out for females versions. The story is told through the “Archie” character, breaking the fourth wall and will the same sense of humor. It’s 1946 yet the form of address “Ms” is used and explained, a appellation contrived in the 70’s. Zip codes are mentioned and they were introduced in the 60’s. More than these minor issues is the ridiculous insane premise that the person with the most to hide in the story would engage the “genius detective” to supplement the ineffective efforts of the police. Right. Also, the book has weird consistency in having so many of the characters be gay with the only heterosexual relationships are either frauds or dysfunctional (cook being beaten by husband) or celibate. There is also a militant feminist theme which is fine, but not so much in 1946. Nero may be too dated for now, but this lazy sod has not done a good job of bringing him/her to the present even if it is taking place in “1946”.

8 people found this helpful

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Delightful(ly) Neo-Noir

Wow! Really enjoyed this story - brilliantly crafted and performed. I have a profound bias in favor of the wronged underdog in any story. Our heroes have that same orientation. I appreciated that the mystery doesn’t cheat. When (pretty much) all is revealed, it follows from the facts presented. I didn’t guess the murderer(s), but had tremendous fun on the ride anyway. Really love our unconventional Watson/narrator, and a soft spot for the complex Holmes-esque lead P.I. Both have their extraordinary abilities, as well as humanizing vulnerabilities. My highest admiration to Mr. Spotswood and Ms. Potter on this new Audible treasure.

6 people found this helpful

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A good story...

Good story. And it is a story -- sit back and let the author and reader take you where it goes rather than trying to second guess things. Some language is more modern than not, to which I said "huh" and continued the story. I'll be continuing the series.

6 people found this helpful

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Hanging in

I am trying to appreciate this book. The abrupt fast-foward a couple of years early on leaves me very confused about the characters and their relationships. Protagonist has mannerisms and aptitudes that don't fit her bio as presented thus far. Narrator is wearing me out with overzealous acting...I get startled (not in a good way) when she goes over the top. I'm sorry I can't be positive about this performance and this book. If I finish the book and change my mind, I'll edit this review.

3 people found this helpful

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Stylish and smart

This was an excellent murder mystery. It had shades of Sherlock with smart twists and turns, and even a potential Moriarty foil for future books. However, it is no derivative copy; this story is also fresh and original, full of smart, fascinating women in 1942. This feels quite cozy, even if there are themes of domestic violence and same-sex romance. Both the author and narrator are new to me and I will be seeking out more books by either of them.

3 people found this helpful

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  • MT
  • 12-28-21

Excellent!

This book is so good! Wonderful characters, both the good guys and the stinkers. An interesting take on that time in history from a different point of view as well.

What I loved most is all the surprises. Just when you think you see the whole picture, another piece is reveal. So fun!

Narrated by an actor rather than a reader. She's amazing.

Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story!

Awesome narrator and very original and fun Murder mystery. Can’t wait for the sequel in December!

1 person found this helpful

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Solid story.

If you're coming here for the gay, you won't get much. The story is still good though. the characters shine well and all feel unique. If you like a nice old school "who did it" this is a nice one to listen to.

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A Female Nero Wolfe!

This story is Nero Wolfe rewritten to a female version. An Archie type character does the narration, the yellow chairs are reused, and we have an Orly character who was killed off in the Nero Wolfe series. Enjoy.

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Great who done it and excellent narration!!

I love mysteries with smart bad ass women sleuths and this book gives us two of them! I love Will’s humor and Ms P’s sense of justice. There were so many layers to this story and each thread kept me engaged. I didn’t figure out who did it and there were a good amount of twists and turns to keep me guessing. The narrator was brilliant! Every voice was unique and the accents superb! I must say she’s one of the best narrators I’ve listened to. I plan on seeing if she narrated any other sapphic books! I am so excited to see that there’s a sequel! On to book 2 😀