Review: Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood
Mhmmm. Not quite sure what my thoughts will end up being on this one, as I went into it with some very high expectations and they weren't entirely met.
It was meant to be a crime noir novel (think Raymond Chandler, Hammett, Christie...) featuring two lady detectives in post-war New York, but I think Stephen Spotswood tried to tack a bit too closely to the language of that type in the genre writing, so it felt a bit too much like watching a pastiche instead of sitting and enjoying a fresh take on the genre. The way that genre is especially limiting is it means we only get to spend time with the first-person narrator, Willowjean Parker - and that's a bit of a shame, because as great a character as Will is, I would have really liked to spend some more time with the POV and inner monologue of Laura Pentecost, the 'senior' detective in the agency. The fact that Spotswood's novel made me want to revisit the classics of the genre (I have ordered The Maltese Falcon to give it a re-read and I recently finished my reread of And Then There Were None) says more about his qualities as an imitator rather than an original novellist, and I don't mean that as the compliment it sounds.
There were a few high points in this novel, though - the mystery was clever and well-worked, and the final resolution was both a proper plot twist as well as a fitting homage to noir thrillers. The main narrator, Will Parker, was a nuanced, complex person with a cuttingly funny internal monologue, and I was intrigued enough by her and her backstory, and the way Spotswood peppered in flashbacks and flashforwards, that I probably will be curious enough to pick up any of the other books in this planned series. I think it's a bit guilty of setting itself up as as an adaptation waiting to happen, but if you want an easy, clever mystery that's fun to read and doesn't require too much brainpower, this might be a good one to go with.
And the covers of the American editions are just absolutely beautiful.
All told, this is a neat little mystery that was fun to read, that provided a few hours of uncomplicated, enjoyable entertainment, and there were enough sparks of good things there - good characterization and excellent dialogue - to keep me interested in any further offerings.
Let me know if this strikes your fancy!