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City of Dragons (A Miranda Corbie Mystery) Hardcover – February 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Set in San Francisco in 1940, Stanley's stunning first in a new series introduces a gutsy, independent heroine who isn't always likable. As the city celebrates the Chinese New Year with the Rice Bowl Party, a three-day carnival to raise money for China's war relief, PI Miranda Corbie sees Eddie Takahashi, a young Japanese numbers runner, shot dead in front of her on a crowded, fireworks-filled Chinatown street. When the police tell her to forget about Takahashi (Chalk him up to Nanking), the outraged Miranda decides to seek justice on her own. In her quest for Takahashi's killer, she encounters racism and sexism at nearly every turn. A former escort who's reinvented herself as a detective, the 33-year-old Miranda isn't taken seriously by the cops, who enjoy rehashing her past. Stanley (Nox Dormienda) aptly describes San Francisco as a city redolent and glistening with sin and lamplight, forever a girl you didn't take home to Mother. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Kelli Stanley’s impressive new mystery takes readers back to the San Francisco of 1940. It is Chinese New Year, and the three-day Rice Bowl Party is in full swing. Miranda Corbie, a young private investigator, is enjoying the festivities when she stumbles upon the body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants the murder covered up, and the police are happy to forget it, but Miranda wants justice. Her quest takes her through Chinatown’s tenements and herb shops to a tailor in Little Osaka and a high-class bordello. Chain-smoking Chesterfields all the while, Kellie tries to get information from both hoods and cops. Stanley has vividly re-created the atmosphere of the era, using authentic San Francisco landmarks and the Golden Gate International Exposition as background. Her hard-boiled, strong female sleuth stalks Hammett’s San Francisco and does the job with all the panache of Sam Spade. Readers will eagerly await the next installment in this exciting new hard-boiled series. Recommend this one to fans of Denise Hamilton’s The Last Embrace (2008), starring a female sleuth in postwar Los Angeles. --Barbara Bibel
Top customer reviews
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I did finish the book. The story held up, mostly, the tough dame did not. That's a shame, there's a lot of potential in the premise of a noir detective who is a tough female character, but there's just too much of the character and contrivances in the plot that don't ring true for me. Not a heroine I want to return to.
Kelli's style and use of language is gritty and sets a mood where Dashiell Hammett would feel right at home. Her descriptions of San Francisco include details about Ms. Corbie going from place to place, taking readers along to view the sites, hear the sounds and experience the City block by block. City of Dragons will transport you back to a time when a smoke, a drink and a murder were always intertwined.
A classic 1940's noir broad protagonist rich in nostalgia and naughtiness. All capped off by a staccato,haunting love poem to the most diverse city on the planet. An intense, multi-layered plot over an historical event most people never heard of, but should know. This could be the start of a wonderful relationship. Thanks.
As a history lover, and having delved a bit into writing a novel set in the 1940's, I was interested in seeing how Stanley created 1940 San Francisco. I was impressed.
Main character, Miranda Corbie, is not a push-over. She's a private investigator who's out to make wrongs right, and stops at little to accomplish it. To say the least, author Kelli Stanly has created an intriguing portrait of this volatile era in the fabled Chinatown.
Stanley's signature dry humor kept me laughing one moment, then sober the next. The writing is rich and powerful. The characters vibrant and real. The plot captivating.
Another Stanley classic.
The location of her story, downtown San Francisco and, in particular, China Town, involves sites still extant (Ms. Stanley could offer tours based on the book). As someone who lives in the area, I thought she did an especially good job of describing how the city lives with and what it looks like during episodes of fog.
I am not a fan of noir fiction. Hard boiled detectives are of no interest. But the other aspects in the telling of this story overrode my usual distaste. And I thought the plot hung together better than in some noir work.
Two small criticisms. There were too many details of Miranda's life before the start of this story. That backstory was so rich I kept checking for a book that MUST have come before this one. And, although three cheers for the way Miranda was able to take out the bad guys at the end, was it really, really believable?
If you have recently quit smoking, be warned. Everyone smokes all the time. This is true to the era, certainly, but darn if it didn't start me thinking of how good a ciggie would taste although I haven't smoked, nor wanted to, for 25+ years.
Most recent customer reviews
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