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City of Secrets (A Miranda Corbie Mystery) Hardcover – September 13, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Stanley brings 1940s San Francisco to life with her meticulously detailed, hard-boiled novel ... It's neonoir in a classical five-act structure, starring one of crime's most arresting heroines: angry, big-hearted, and fearless Miranda Corbie." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Miranda continues to fight the good fight in Hammett's San Francisco, making Sam Spade proud and giving readers a treat." - Barbara Bibel, Booklist

"A superb mystery, a noir tale of high order ... This novel rings across the decades with an eerie truth." - T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times Bestselling Author

"Lean and mean, Kelli Stanley's gritty 1940s-set mystery series gives readers a compelling snapshot of the past--a past as smart, complex and jaded as her lead character, female P.I. Miranda Corbie. A razor-sharp, tightly-plotted noir page-turner." - Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author

"Kelli Stanley is a writer who knows her place. It's mid-20th century San Francisco, same place Hammett knew, and with a detective as unique and unyielding. If you haven't been reading Kelli Stanley you've been making a mistake and it's time to do yourself a favor: Grab up this book." - S. J. Rozan, Edgar-winning author of Ghost Hero

"The historical details shine in this perfectly drawn mystery.... This shows how historical mystery can not only re-create the sights but also the atmosphere of the time."
--RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
 
"Stanley's brittle prose and period touches effectively capture the feeling of ’40s noir."
--Kirkus Reviews
 
"In best pulp fiction style, suspects lounge about with slick hair and cheap suits, blondes are chain-smoking broads, and the nightclubs are smoky and languid."
--Publishers Weekly
 
"Engrossing.... Stanley brings 1940s San Francisco to life with her meticulously detailed, hard-boiled novel."
--Library Journal

About the Author

KELLI STANLEY is also the author of a critically acclaimed Roman Noir series. The first book in that series, Nox Dormienda, won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery. The second, The Curse-Maker, was also published by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books. The first book in the Miranda Corbie series, City of Dragons, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also named one of the 2010 Top Ten Mystery Thrillers by Oline Cogdill and one of the Top Ten Best Fiction by Bay Area Authors by the San Francisco Chronicle. Kelli lives in San Francisco, California.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Miranda Corbie Mystery (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312603614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312603618
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,566,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
CITY OF SECRETS is the second of Kelli Stanley's award-winning Miranda Corbie novels, which begins within a few months after CITY OF DRAGONS ends. It is still 1940, the setting is still San Francisco, and there is yet another celebration taking place: the beginning of the second season of the Golden Gate International Exposition. Be warned: when you open the book and begin reading the first page, you are leaving the 21st century and wherever you happen to be behind. By page nine, you will be so thoroughly immersed in the San Francisco of the mid-20th century that your contemporary surroundings will seem to be the product of an inferior imagination.

Stanley's imagination, on the other hand, is anything but inferior. She conjures up a time far removed from our own and a place that was once real and is forever exotic. Her characters, from her tough-as-nails heroine to her villains and victims, are twisted archetypes, by turns readily identifiable as such and not so much, easily recognizable but never predictable. This is perhaps most true of Corbie, an escort turned private investigator, who would seem too tough to love without risk until she reveals, however momentarily and rarely, a haunting fragility that stays with the reader long after the tale is told.

So it is that Corbie, who is at times barely making ends meet in her new profession, finds herself compelled to once again take on a case pro bono that the powers-that-be want her as far away from as possible. Page one kicks off with a dead body, that of a model named Pandora Blake, who has been murdered and left with an anti-Semitic slur written in her own blood.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Miranda Corbie comes to life again in Kelli Stanley's second "City of..." novel. Gorgeous, tough-minded (and tough-skinned) Miranda solves two murders and exposes an anti-Semitic eugenics ring (sounds extreme, but Stanley makes it believable) in 1940 San Francisco. Once again, she brings to life the Golden Gate International Exposition in all its tawdry excitement -- indeed, the period detail is incredibly vivid, placing the reader right THERE as Miranda runs all over the Bay area. An exciting and fascinating read, guaranteed to leave you breathless!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sometimes, I am amazed by what I do not know, and the eugenics in the United States during the 1930's to 1950's has really shocked me. I know about the terrible treatment of the blacks in the South, but this points to the perils of being Jewish in America, while Hitler exterminates European Jews. Miranda has not lost her grit and stamina, but her smoking has diminished, a little. Parts of the story sends chills up my spine, to think of the suffering of the oppressed. Stanley presents a San Francisco rich in history, crime, passion, and beauty. The characters are rich in detail from No-Legs to Duggan to Blind Willie to Ozzie. I enjoy the friendship among Miranda and Bente and Gladys and Allen. Little by little, the reader learns Miranda’s history, but still much needs to be told.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I won a copy of City of Secrets through Goodreads Firstreads.
Pros:
Excellent sense of the time period; Some nice historic detail; Original plot
Cons:
HIGH F-word count; Writer uses loads of sentence fragments; Too much time spent on smoking; 2nd in Series, don't read out of order

Hard-boiled, foul (FOUL)-mouthed, and foul tempered, Miranda Corbie is a former prostitute turned private investigator. She's also a serious chain-smoker who can't make up her mind if she's really trying to quit or not (and a war vet, and the child of an alcoholic abusive father and an absentee mother, and struggling with love lost - all just a little much for me).

This book was a struggle for me honestly. The plot is original, and the writer does a good job with historic detail. But, even though this is hard-boiled noir fiction, I'm pretty sure the F-word usage is high for the time period, and it's used in a modern way, as having all kinds of uses and meanings. Also, I cannot count the number of times sentences were wasted describing lighting up or putting out a "stick". Honestly, every time Miranda lights a cigarette, we get two sentences about it; every time we have to know where she pulled the cigarette from, what she lit it with, what brand the lighter was or what name was on the matchbook, if she lit it herself, or if a man held the light for her, if he struck the match with his thumb, or if she held his hands steady as she lit up. Putting out a cigarette required a little less detail, but not much... And unfortunately, Miranda would light up a cigarette, then literally five sentences or less later, put it out - honestly I don't know how anyone smokes that fast!
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Format: Hardcover
Kelli Stanley has come out with the second in her Miranda Corbie mystery series set in San Francisco in the 30's and 40's--this time someone's killing Jewish women, women whose place on the edges of society makes them particularly vulnerable. No one's going to step up and bring them justice--or so the powers that be hope. They didn't count on Miranda.

Previously I've reviewed Kelli's Roman series, which I love (Nox Dormienda and The Cursemaker), but City of Dragons and now City of Secrets are just as compelling. Kelli is a rising star in the world of mystery authors: Nox won the Bruce Alexander Award, City of Dragons was an LA Times Book Prize Finalist and, most impressively, the Macavity Award Winner for the Best Historical Mystery of 2010. Her tough, noir style, brings us multi-layered characters, fast-paced unpredictable action and a setting that makes you feel like surely your armchair has been transported to San Francisco at that intriguingly rough period at the very end of the 30's.

If somehow you haven't made Miranda's acquaintance yet, you have a double delight ahead. For those of you who read City of Dragons, your next fix is available.
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