Friday Book Whimsy: Fortune Favors the Dead

With Fortune Favors the Dead, Stephen Spotswood may have given readers the best hardboiled mystery since Dashiell Hammett offered us Sam Spade. I wonder who will play Will in the movie?

Willowjean “Will” Parker — for all intents and purposes — grew up homeless. Her family became the members of the circus she joined at a very young age. The characters with whom she worked helped her grow up. A fluky coincidence results in Will saving the life of unique but successful private detective Lillian Pentecost by using the knife-throwing skills she learned in the circus.

Though Will has no special detecting skills, Lillian sees something in the wise-cracking girl that others don’t see. She offers Will a job as her right-hand. Lillian’s multiple sclerosis is getting worse, and she needs someone to help her do the leg work. As it turns out, Will is perfect for the job.

A few years later, Parker and Pentecost are hired to find the killer in the mysterious death of socialite Abigail Collins. It appears that Abigail was hit on the head by a crystal ball at a seance held at her house, and the murderer seems to be Abigail’s husband. This wouldn’t be that shocking except for the fact that her husband killed himself a number of years before the murder.

Among the suspects is Abigail’s daughter Becca, to whom Will has found herself becoming more and more attracted, and a spiritualist who seems to see more than her crystal ball. Before long, and as Will is required to take on more and more of the duties as Lillian declines, Will’s life is in danger. Will she figure out the murderer in time?

I seriously could have read this book in one sitting had I had more time. It was fun and quirky, but that was wrapped in a really good detective story. I loved the characters, especially tough-talking Will, who has her own soft side.

I’m hoping this is the first in a series. Highly recommended. I recommend Amy Adams in the movie.

Here is a link to the book.