Fortune Favors the Dead

Doubleday. Oct. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780385546553. $26.95. M
DEBUT Spotswood’s 1940s-set mystery is a light, breezy “popcorn” book that will keep readers engaged from start to finish. The story is told from the viewpoint of street-smart Willowjean Parker, known as Will, who ran away to join the circus and became an expert knife thrower. Taking a side job as an overnight guard on a building site, Will encounters Lillian Pentecost, “New York City’s preeminent lady gumshoe.” Owing to multiple sclerosis, Lillian is not as steady on her feet as she used to be, but her sleuthing skills unravel a crime involving Mr. McCloskey, the manager of the building site, and Will finishes him off with a knife in the back. After three days in jail, Will is released, leaves the circus behind, and teams up with Lillian to be her right-hand woman. Readers might assume this is the crime built up to throughout the book, but the narrative takes a sudden shift to a second crime involving the wealthy Collins family. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and aided by Will, Lillian unveils the murderer.
VERDICT This is a fun whodunit for high schoolers up through adults. It’s easy to pick up and put down again, perfect for a cozy weekend read.

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