Historical fiction, Mystery

Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

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The tone of the book was unexpected. I went into an advance review copy a little late and without really checking up on the blurb. It was a pleasant surprise.
The narrative tone throughout the book can only be referred to as gritty. We have in our lead character of Will, a woman who does not conform to the expected lifestyle choices for people like her. At one of her odd jobs, her luck turns, and she meets a woman who will change her entire future.
A little jump in the timeline notwithstanding, a linear narrative with flashbacks gives us a better picture of Will and her ways of thinking.
The author does a pretty great job of setting the atmosphere in 1940s New York for the classic locked-room mystery setup, just much more emotionally charged.
Lillian Pentecost is an established female detective with fingers in many pies, and Will is her assistant. Willowjean Parker sees more than she lets on and struggles under the limitations of being an assistant/younger partner. She is young, in spite of the hard knocks life has dealt her. Her youth leads her to make a few mistakes here, but she figures it out in the end.
The staging of the narrative, the cast of the characters and the tone were just right, making me feel more involved the deeper that we delved into the case. The strength definitely lies more in the people, their quirks and insecurities than in the mystery itself (even though I could never have guessed the way things happened). The mystery involves a dysfunctional family, a murky history and a locked room after a seance.
I look forward to reading the next in the series and would recommend it for fans of classic mysteries with more queer characters in them.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is based on my own reading experience.

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