Stephen Spotswood is an award-wining playwright, journalist, and theatre educator. He makes his home in Washington, DC with his wife, young adult author Jessica Spotswood, their cat, and an ever-growing collection of books.
The most wonderfully wild, smart, and hugely entertaining novel awaits your reading pleasure. It’s 1946 and Lillian Pentecost and Willowjean Parker find themselves at the circus when one of Will’s friends from her performing days is murdered. I kept a beady eye out for this, the second in the Pentecost and Parker series, as Stephen Spotswood’s debut Fortune Favours the Dead was an absolute delight. I have to say that the cast list alone had me at hello. The circus comes to roaring vividly vivacious life, with the ups and downs of life on the road making the investigation particularly tricky. Little digs and pokes of humour nestle themselves in alongside the social issues of the day. The concerns faced by the residents of the sideshow in particular ensure that while this heads towards cosy crime, it comes with a sharply provocative edge. The writing is so visual, the descriptions come to colourfully dramatic life and as I read, I could see. The cunning ending ensured a resounding round of applause from me, Stephen Spotswood has done it again! A Liz Pick of the Month, and another LoveReading Star Book, Murder Under Her Skin is a charming, darkly amusing, and fabulously stimulating read.
A fabulously entertaining absolute romp of a murder mystery set in 1940’s New York. Famous private detective Lillian Pentecost, and her assistant Willowjean Parker are hired to track down the murderer of a wealthy young widow who was bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball at a seance. This is the debut novel and first in the Pentecost and Parker series from Stephen Spotswood, who is an award-winning playwright, journalist, and theatre educator. He quite obviously knows how to tell one heck of a captivating story, and this sits somewhere between hard-boiled and cosy! The first sentence is a corker, and sets up Willowjean (Will) as the most engaging and one-of-a-kind narrator. This is very much a character-led story, the feeling of the time is created with dialogue, which snaps and crackles with energy. Both Lillian and Will are fascinating characters, with more than a few tricks hidden up their sleeves. With a locked-room mystery, wonderfully diverse central characters, and a cracking storyline, Fortune Favours the Dead is a dream of a read and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
The perfect murder mystery for fans of Richard Osman and Robert Thorogood. 'Spotswood understands that [...] spending time with unforgettable characters is paramount.' - New York Times 'A loving, intricately plotted tribute to the great days of American noir.' - Daily Mail New York, 1946: The last time Will Parker let a case get personal, she walked away with a broken face, a bruised ego, and the solemn promise never again to let her heart get in the way of her job. But she called Hart and Halloway's Travelling Circus and Sideshow home for five years, and Ruby Donner, the circus's tattooed ingenue, was her friend. To make matters worse the prime suspect is Valentin Kalishenko, the man who taught Will everything she knows about putting a knife where it needs to go. To uncover the real killer and keep Kalishenko from a date with the electric chair, Will and Ms. Pentecost join the circus in sleepy Stoppard, Virginia, where the locals like their cocktails mild, the past buried, and big-city detectives not at all. The two swiftly find themselves lost in a funhouse of lies as Will begins to realize that her former circus compatriots aren't playing it straight, and that her murdered friend might have been hiding a lot of secrets beneath all that ink. Dodging fistfights, firebombs, and flying lead, Will puts a lot more than her heart on the line in the search of the truth. Can she find it before someone stops her ticker for good? Praise for Stephen Spotswood: 'Razor-sharp, tons of flair. A really good noir novel.' Tana French 'Spotswood's stellar debut puts a modern spin on classic hard-boiled fiction. . . The deep and sensitive characterization of the two protagonists, coupled with rich description and tonally spot-on humour, make this a novel to remember. Spotswood is definitely a writer to watch.' Publishers Weekly 'This novel not only offers fun, offbeat characters and an exceptional flavour of the time, it's utterly charming too.' Woman's Weekly 'This hugely enjoyable debut is a deft melange of Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery and 1940s Chandler-esque pulp crime fiction with a feisty narrator' Irish Independent Review 'Persuasive in its attention to period detail and dialogue, with well-constructed set piece scenes deftly staged, this is a highly accomplished, auspicious first entry in what we must hope will be a long-running series' The Irish Times
The 'razor-sharp' first book in the charming, fast-paced Pentecost and Parker mystery series. Book Two, Murder Under Her Skin, coming December 2021! Meet your new favourite duo, audacious and iconic, and perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel, Agatha Christie and M. C. Beaton. It's 1945 and Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in New York City, but she needs help. Enter Willowjean Parker, a circus runaway - and the perfect assistant. Quick-witted and street-smart, she's a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set. She can pick locks blindfolded, wrestle men twice her size, and throw knives with deadly precision - all of which come in handy working for Ms P. When wealthy young widow Abigail Collins is murdered Pentecost and Parker are hired by the family to track down the culprit. On Halloween night, there was a costume party at the Collins' mansion, where a fortune teller performed a seance which greatly disturbed Abigail. Several hours later her body was discovered bludgeoned to death in her late husband's office. Problem is, the door to the office was locked from the inside. There was no-one else in the room, and the murder weapon was beside the victim; the fortune teller's crystal ball. It looks like an impossible crime, but Pentecost and Parker know there is no such thing... A 2020 Radio 2 Book Club pick. Praise for Fortune Favours the Dead: 'Razor-sharp, tons of flair and a snappy sense of humour' Tana French 'Bullets, blood, bodies, and belly-laughs: all the ingredients of a classic mystery novel. Stephen Spotswood hard-boils with the best of 'em!' Alan Bradley, bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce Mystery Series 'Fortune Favours the Dead takes gritty 40s noir, shakes it up, gives it a charming twist, and serves it up with unforgettable style. My new favourite sleuthing duo.' Deanna Raybourn, author of the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries 'Spotswood's stellar debut puts a modern spin on classic hard-boiled fiction. . . a novel to remember.' Publishers Weekly 'This novel not only offers fun, offbeat characters and an exceptional flavour of the time, it's utterly charming too.' Woman's Weekly 'This hugely enjoyable debut is a deft melange of Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery and 1940s Chandler-esque pulp crime fiction with a feisty narrator' Irish Independent Review 'A highly accomplished, auspicious first entry in what we must hope will be a long-running series' The Irish Times