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Check It Out: Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

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This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today, I’m recommending Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood. I know I’ve recommended a lot of mysteries here on Check It Out, but I think I can honestly say I’ve never recommended a piece of hardboiled detective fiction...until today.

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 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 her heavy 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.

Fast forward to three years later. Will and Lillian find themselves working 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 she 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 couldn’t. But as usual when it comes to hardboiled detective fiction, that’s easier said than done.

This book has the charm, the tone, the snappy sense of humor, and all the panache you’d expect of a work in this genre, but with plenty of original twists of its own. Check out Fortune Favors the Dead and other mysteries like it at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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