Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley

Book Review:  City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley 

Hardcover: 352 pages

  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312603606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312603601

Brace yourself:  to fully appreciate this noir murder mystery, it might help to have some good bourbon and a pack of Chesterfields on hand.  Chain smoking and a regular dose of the hard stuff fuel Miranda Corbie, PI, as she seeks justice for a young Japanese man murdered in Chinatown.  

Set in San Francisco in 1940, City of Dragons is a full immersion trip to a fog-beset town of steep hills, organized crime and cops indifferent to the fate of a Japanese kid or a Chinese escort.  As Miranda walks the streets of this city, we see a little known slice of San Francisco history come to life.  

Stanley reveals tantalizing bits of Miranda's back story, but leaves so much unexplored or unexplained that the novel practically begs for a series.  What happened to Miranda's long lost love, Johnny?  Why did Miranda become an escort after returning from the Spanish Civil War?  Will she ever be able to love again?  Questions like these will echo in your head long after you put down this remarkable book.  

While I'm waiting for a sequel, I plan to snag a copy of Kelli Stanley's first acclaimed historical mystery, Nox Dormienda, a noir set in, of all places, Roman occupied Britain in 83 A.D.  

  • Genre: historical fiction/noir murder mystery
  • Read it if:  you love The Maltese Falcon but wish Sam Spade had been a woman.  
  • Skip it if: you recently quit smoking
  • Movie-Worthy?:  Absolutely!  May I suggest Angelina Jolie as Miranda and Christina Hendricks as her friend Bente?   

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