We’ve been doing some form of social distancing for six months or more now. At first, that meant staying home, except for the daily exercise of walking or biking the neighborhood and the occasional ride just to get out and about. Then, the roadblocks started.
First, I fell off my bike (don’t ask), so I couldn’t ride it anymore and walking became problematic. Not being one who enjoys being a couch potato, I kept looking for new possibilities and discovered some really interesting Pilates classes. So, I started those and they are a great way to start my day. I have my routine for what to do each day, and I can tell there has been some improved ability and flexibility as a result; so that’s good.
Then we decided to try a trip to a state park so we could be out in the world but still not in risky social situations. That was good; except that the foot problem developed which lead to the boot and, well, you know how that story goes.
Anyway, we’re trying to get out at least once a week, get dinner from a local restau ant, and enjoy ourselves. It’s our way of trying to support some of the local businesses as well as prevent us from going stir-crazy. I must say, one of my favorite things now is to go to a place that has converted their parking lot into outside dining. It’s great not to try and get everything home, still hot or cold as needed, and enjoy it. We are enjoying it, even though we occasionally, we try someplace new that doesn’t quite measure up.
When we aren’t out and about, I like to read. If you’ve been following this blog, you probably don’t find that much of a revelation. I’ve been an avid reader since basically all my life. Reading and swimming are two things I don’t remember learning, I just remember always being able to do. Of course I got better with age and practice; but don’t we all?
Anyway, I just finished a new book, and I wanted to tell you about it. Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood is the first book featuring Willojean Parker and Lillian Pentecost and takes place in the 1940’s. Who knows if it will turn into a series, but I’m betting when people finish this one there will be more than a few hoping it’s just the start of a good thing. Here’s my review if you’re interested.
This is the first in a proposed new mystery series that defines further genre identification. It has a strong female protagonist, and indeed some issues regarding equality for women running through it. It is also written in the hard-boiled style in terms of some of its sentence structure combined with some of the action that would find itself at home in many hardboiled novels. On the other hand, it has little violence and no typical “gun moll” or distressed female beauty seeking the help of a down on his luck but strong masculine detective.
Rather, the head of this detective agency is the very competent, very successful, Lillian Pentecost. While she is the head of the agency, the book is narrated by Willojean Parker, a young woman who has been brought up in the circus and who has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime; namely to work and apprentice with Pentecost, one of the premier investigators of the period. Pentecost needs Parker as she has MS which is slowly progressing and robbing her of some of her physical strength and ability. Together they create a formidable team with Pentecost teaching Parker the ins and outs of detective work, and Parker using the survival skills she learned growing up in a traveling carnival to enhance her skills in this new to her world.
The atmosphere of the book is skillfully drawn so the reader gets an in-depth flavor of the time period without feeling as if they are reading a history book. There is some humor here, enough to lighten the book and help move it along without being over-the-top. There are also just enough hints of violence to remind the reader that detective work can be dangerous while the book remains largely gore free. The reader can supply as much or as little with their own imagination when action becomes paramount.
The primary mystery is well crafted with all the clues laid out for the reader if they put them together in the right order. The solution is logical and satisfying without being tied up in one neat, shiny package. There are also minor mysteries that reach logical conclusions, at least one of which the reader may be unaware of having been a mystery. The result is a delightfully complex book with well-written characters that will leave most readers hoping this is, indeed, the beginning of a new series.
This is a book I could recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted and well-paced mystery. My thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital copy. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. The book is scheduled to be published on October 27, 2020; so you’ve got just enough time to order a copy from your local bookseller or get on the waiting list at your library.
As we all start gearing up for the holidays coming up, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, don’t forget to take a little time for yourself to relax. Might I suggest you plan on that relaxation with a good book? Happy Reading.