Cover Image: Murder Crossed Her Mind

Murder Crossed Her Mind

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Member Reviews

Excellent, engaging, and fun. This may be my favorite in the series. It's well balanced between character development and mystery.

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Another fun adventure. Always perfect for Nero Wolfe fans. Great for fans of classic mysteries who crave something fresh and updated.

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I wish I knew this series existed sooner. I am obsessed with the lead female characters. Will’s sass and badass chick vibes and her wit are hilarious. This was the perfect book to start my new year off with!! I love the way the author portrayed the main characters and the dynamic between them is perfect! Will seems to find trouble, get out of it, and then find it again in a comical way! The cliffhanger of this book certainly left me wanting more!! I’m going to go back and read the first three books while I anxiously await the next installment of Pentecost and Parker.

Thank you NetGalley and Doubleday books for the ARC!!

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Another fun installment in the Pentecost and Parker series.

Post-WWII 1940s has never been my favorite time period as mystery settings go, but Spotswood has done an incredible job in making this series compelling and rich in atmosphere and sense of place.

That the mysteries themselves continue to be well-plotted and intriguing bodes well for the longevity of the series, though of course it’s exceptionally well-drawn and lovable protagonist Will that really makes these books continue to be such delightful reading.

The subtle humor pretty much always lands, and I’m glad to see the stories sticking with the New York City setting, because Spotswood does such a terrific job of immersing the reader in the feel of the city at this time.

As always, I look forward to the next book in the series, especially with the cliffhanger ending we get at the close of this installment.

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Thank you Netgalley and Doubleday for access to this arc.

The investigation was great, very detailed, very thoughtful. I seriously did not care for the amount of rule breaking that our heroines did, but they managed not to step over my red line yet for fictional characters, so we shall see how things will develop from now on, because their world is certainly expanding and from something the author says at the end, probably will expand even more.

This author is actually very good with secondary characters. There were several in this book which were very interesting to me and very far from just being a place holder. The FBI agent, the mobster, some others were really interesting (not that I would want to know them in real life necessarily).

Also the book continues to have some call backs to the Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin series. But of course this went in a much darker direction already and is certainly not a fan fiction of the original books and I don’t need them to be that, but I can see some influences.

Oh, at the end the book has a cliffhanger. And usually I am super annoyed with the cliffhangers and yes, I had to roll my eyes a little bit at the author saying at the end “please not to hate him and there was no other way to do it.”

And I just cannot keep quiet in response to that, because I would not dream normally to give advice to a writer, but yes, there was *easily* a way to do it without a cliffhanger. Do I even need to say it? Their investigation is completed, Will leaves on vacation with Holly. That’s it, the end. The only reason to include the last chapter when something happens to Ms. Pentecost, which as far as we know has zero connection to what happened in this book, is to make it end with a cliffhanger, to keep the reader interested.

Having said that, I was honestly thinking whatever, first of all there was no immediate danger to her life and second of all I realized that I am consciously trying to restrain myself from being fully emotionally attached to her character.

Grade B

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Will Parker dearly loves being the assistant to New York City’s finest private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. Over the course of their association, she’s built up a formidable reputation for crime-fighting in her own right. So when she’s gulled and mugged while on Coney Island one day, her immediate reaction is to hide the experience from everyone she knows. Sure her assailants stole her identification and keys and, perhaps most worrisomely, the registered gun she was carrying on her that day. But she’ll be damned before she goes to the police or even to her boss about all this. No, Will is certain she can track down the criminals and get her property back all on her own.

Before she can properly devote her time and attention to this endeavor though, a new client shows up at the office. Forest Whitsun is a famed, perhaps even notorious, defense attorney who has previously and quite publicly butted heads with Pentecost. Now he wants to hire her to look into the disappearance of his elderly friend, a former colleague at the law firm where he first started out.

Vera Bodine was an invaluable part of Boekbinder and Gimbal for decades despite having no legal training herself. This was largely because of her extraordinary memory. The unassuming secretary helped her firm rake in millions more dollars than they might have collected otherwise, due to her unerring ability to recall the finest details during negotiations:

“Was she a trained mnemonist, or did this ability come naturally?” [Pentecost] asked.

“I’ve never heard that word out loud before, but I know what it means,” Whitsun said. “As far as I know, Vera never had any training. She didn’t use tricks. She said she was born with it. Noticed it when she was a little girl. Everything since she was about two years old is still up there.”

I tried to imagine it. Having every single thing that ever happened to me rattling around in my skull, even the bits I wanted to toss. Not to get dramatic, but it sounded like a little corner of hell.

“I can see how such an ability would be very useful,” Ms. P said admiringly.

While Will and her boss might differ substantially in their opinions on Vera’s abilities, they’re both eager to hear more about the missing woman. Whitsun is happy to provide. Since retiring from her position, Vera had become something of a shut-in, with Whitsun himself being one of her few visitors. During World War II, however, her abilities had come to the attention of the FBI, who had recruited her in their pursuit of Nazi spies operating on domestic soil. Whitsun worries that this last endeavor of hers has somehow landed her in trouble.

Despite the combative nature of her prior relationship with Whitsun, Pentecost readily takes on the case. Whitsun has clearly been running himself ragged since discovering that Vera has vanished: as a legal professional, he knows full well that time is of the essence when it comes to finding missing people. But Will soon discovers that she isn't the only detective whose concentration is divided between recovering Vera and resolving troublesome personal matters. Jessup Quincannon, the murder-obsessed millionaire with a grudge against Pentecost, has uncovered something that Pentecost wants to keep buried deeply in her past. How far will she go in order to stop him from exposing her secrets?

As our detectives try to focus on their case despite the myriad distractions in their way, they’re further challenged by the inability of their ostensible allies to get along. Whitsun, for example, refuses to talk to the cops who must eventually get called in when hard proof of foul play is uncovered:

“They want to talk, they can get a warrant.”

“What do you have against cops?”

“Well, let me see. They beat confessions out of suspects, especially innocent ones. They slow-march my clients through booking. They falsify evidence. They lie on the stand.” Whitsun ticked off each item on his fingers. “Oh, and this is in addition to treating every defense attorney like scum.”

“You think playing hardball is going to make them like you any better?” I asked.

“I think if I showed up on their doorstep on my knees, ready to answer whatever they wanted to ask, at the end of the day, I’d still be scum,” Whitsun declared.

This modern take on the hardboiled detective novel of the post World War II era does an excellent job of reminding modern readers that times were not, in fact, so different then than they are now, and if anything were arguably worse. Especially affecting were Will’s keen observations on the raid of the White Clover, one of the few bars where people who weren’t conventionally heterosexual were allowed to be themselves.

Murder Crossed Her Mind is packed with so much plot and color that I could even forgive its (admittedly well-telegraphed) cliffhanger ending. Even before I read Stephen Spotswood’s tantalizing afterword on the subject, I couldn’t wait to find out what lies in store for our dynamic duo of Pentecost & Parker in what is sure to be the next thrilling installment of their series.

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It’s still 1947 in this fourth entry in the Pentecost and Parker series, not too long after the conclusion of the previous book, Secrets Typed in Blood, and still very much under the influence of those events.

Willowjean Parker, is private detective Lillian Pentecost’s right-hand woman, still a bit sensitive about her roots as a ‘cirky girl’ and still in a bit of mourning for the people she left behind when she ran away FROM the circus after running away TO that circus to escape her abusive father.

But she’s proud of her accomplishments as a licensed private detective, and embarrassed, chagrined and downright ashamed when she gets mugged by a couple of two-bit con artists working Coney Island, getting coshed with her own sap and losing her favorite purse with its IDs, keys, and brand new – and registered – gun when she breaks up what she believed was an attempted rape – only to get suckered into a situation that she really should have seen coming a mile away.

Which turns out to be a kind of metaphor for this whole case, as in her haste to cover up her own mess she falls right into an even bigger one – and very nearly loses her boss’ trust into the bargain.

It starts as a missing persons case, brought to Pentecost and Parker by their least favorite lawyer, Forest Whitsun. When Whitsun had Pentecost on the stand in their latest confrontation, he implied that she was not just physically incapacitated by her progressing multiple sclerosis, but mentally compromised into that very bad bargain.

Having him show up at their door as a prospective client, that he trusts their expertise enough for him to ask Pentecost to help him locate a missing friend, is rather a surprise. Although not nearly as much of a surprise as discovering that Whitsun has actual friends and that any of them are female and almost, sorta/kinda, mother-figures in a life that seems bereft of all emotional contacts.

That his friend was a hoarder is a shock to everyone’s system. That she was so famous for her prodigious memory that she was the ace-in-the-hole for a high-powered white shoe law firm AND was recruited by the FBI during the late war is an even bigger shock.

That Will finds her body hidden in the piles of detritus choking her apartment – not so much.

But the ensuing shenanigans raise questions about Pentecost’s history, bring up the specters of one of her greatest enemies and poke holes in a whole lot of people’s lives. Because it’s pretty clear that Vera Bodine’s death was related to some secret that someone felt they had to kill to keep.

But the woman knew so many that it’s hard for even Pentecost and Parker to determine which of the many, many motives surrounding this very secretive woman was the one that caused her death.

Before it causes, not a second woman to die, but a third. Or perhaps a fourth.

Escape Rating A++: Murder Crossed Her Mind was an actual, literally, honest-to-goodness one sitting read for me. I started it thinking I’d read for an hour or so before bed, and then just stayed there reading. And stayed. And STAYED. Until it was done nearly four hours later. Hence that A++ rating because I simply could not put this down until Pentecost and Parker knew everything and staged a great – but still slightly speculative – reveal at the end.

Even though they, and I, both know that those things work better on TV than they do in a real case. Then again, their lawyer-client has been compared to Perry Mason, so the TV-worthy ending fits right into the feel of, well, everything.

What continues to make this series shine is the voice of its narrator, ‘Will’ Parker, who serves as Lillian Pentecost’s right-hand and leg-woman, as well as, increasingly as the series goes on, her investigative partner.

What makes this series, let’s call it ‘inspired by’ by the classic Nero Wolfe series, is that while the stories are set in the immediate post-World War II period, and is clearly heading straight into the strait-jacket of the 1950s, Will’s voice feels more contemporary to us even as she observes the times in which she lives.

Which works because, while we know the date of the period Will is narrating for the story, we don’t know when she’s narrating it FROM. It’s obviously later, she’s clearly older, sadder and wiser, but the world changed a LOT from the late 1940s to, for example, the 1970s and 1980s. Will’s in her 20s when this story takes place, so the possibility that she’s looking back from 30 or 40 years on and is still alive to do so is quite plausible and allows her to be a bit outside her time.

What made the case work, both as a mystery and as an interesting story in its own right, was the mysterious figure of Perseverance Bodine at its heart. She had the gift of perfect recall, and that gift gave her a financially secure life while allowing her to work in the shadows. But as a woman, it was all too easy for her to be seen as a mere helper with a freakishly useful talent rather than as the mover and shaker she could have been – or perhaps should have been.

It was also a bit different because it was never about what enemies Vera might have made – because she didn’t. Instead, it was about which secret someone could least afford her to reveal, which made the investigation just that much more complicated.

I was enthralled from the very first page, and this one just didn’t let go of me until the end. I’ve been just as caught up in every single one of the Pentecost and Parker mysteries so far, from their very first outing in Fortune Favors the Dead, through Murder Under her Skin, Secrets Typed in Blood and now this latest entry in the series, which dammit ends on a ginormous cliffhanger. So there’d better be a FIFTH book in this fantastic series! I just hope we don’t have too long to wait…

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OMG I LOVE THIS SERIES! I read books 1-3 to get ready for this ARC and I am SOOO glad that I did. I love the relationship between Pentecost & Parker, it's just so real. But DUDE, a cliffhanger? Stephen Spotswood, you're killing me, man! Please write quickly so that I can find out what happens!!


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New York City 1947

New to this series and was anticipating a new historical mystery series..

Engaging characters and great world building bring this mystery full circle and a woman has disappeared who may have information wanted by others.

Really enjoyed and need to go back and read the first 3 in this series!

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What a gem! And to think I put this at the bottom of my TBR pile because I hadn't read the earlier books! Big mistake because this was thoroughly enjoyable as a standalone. It's a clever twisty mystery set in 1947 New York featuring the unlikely paid of Ms. Pentecost and Willowjean Parker who find themselves wrapped up in the question of what happened to Vera, an elderly agoraphobic hoarder with a memory that has always astounded others. An attorney who cared for her - who brought her groceries- is frantic because she isn't home and hasn't been seen. Will and Ms. Pentecost sort through the stuff (only word for it) and interview the neighbors and becomes a murder case. Throw in the FBI, a Nazi Vera identified, real estate issues, and another murder and well, it's a doozy. Oh, and Will wants to find the pair who mugged her. I like how Spotswood incorporates Ms. Pentecost's MS, how the housekeeper cares for the pair, and how they care for each other. It's complicated and will keep you guessing. Thanks to Netgalley for the ArC. It's a terrific one-and thanks to the cliffhanger, I'm especially eagerly awaiting the next one.

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Pentecost and Parker are back at it again! I love this series so much. Spotswood is a master of mystery- keeping me guessing until the very end. While I normally can figure out a mystery about 2/3 of the way through- this one took me almost until the reveal. Will Parker is one of my favorite characters that I've ever read and she continues to grow and flesh out over the course of this series. I love her relationship with Holly and I'm excited to see where it goes in the future. In fact, I am excited to see where every character goes as the series continues. I am especially hoping to see Agent Faraday and his partner Rosa in future books. I really appreciate the way Spotswood is incorporating queer history into this series, with this book in particular beginning to touch on the beginning of McCarthyism.

I think Spotswood has done a wonderful job of creating individual mysteries in each book while telling a continuous story of both women. He has created a sort of sherlockian approach where every book is very different and has a central mystery, but Quincannon lurks in the background (similar to Sherlock's Moriarty), keeping the series coherent from start to finish. Overall I just really love this series.

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I continue to really love this series and this sleuth. This was another great Pentecost and Parker mystery.

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Crime-solving partners in midcentury Manhattan, one the brains of the operation and one the person of action, living in a brownstone with an always-worried chef. Sometimes-tense but nonetheless convenient relationships with journalists and the police. An old-school finale with all the suspects assembled in the office waiting for the detective to reveal the murderer. The irresistible Nero Wolfe-ness of it all! This homage, complete with Easter egg details like a sidekick who drinks milk and plans for a secret panel in the office, stands on its own as a mystery but will also delight Rex Stout fans from start to finish. It’s a modern twist on detective duos, with confident and capable women in the lead roles, but these New Yorkers are even more directly analogous to Wolfe and Archie than the California-based detectives in The Mother Shadow, by Melodie Johnson Howe. Add in a victim with an infallible memory, a bunch of conniving lawyers, various con artists, and the occasional lock-picking, and you have excellent entertainment. I can’t believe this is the fourth installment of a series and that I somehow managed to be unaware of the previous three. Those are going directly into the reading queue.

Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for a digital advance review copy.

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3.75 stars

This series just keeps getting better. The unlikely investigative duo of Lillian Pentecost, an almost Sherlockian genius who is afflicted with MS, and Willowjean Parker, a former circus runaway and sort of Archie Goodwin to Pentecost's Nero Wolfe, is efficient and entertaining.

The book opens as Will gets mugged on the boardwalk, much to her embarrassment. She elects not to tell her boss, although she loses her keys, her PI license and her gun. Will decides to find the perps on her own.

Meanwhile a lawyer acquaintance comes to them with a strange story. A retired employee of his former law firm has disappeared. Since she had become a reclusive hoarder, he is sure that there is foul play involved. She had some very particular skills and had occasionally helped out the FBI with espionage cases, which might have been a factor in her disappearance.

But the beauty of these books isn't the plots, although they are well done, it's the relationship between the two main characters. Partly employer and employee, more family than friends, it's a complex situation. Will's fresh and irreverent narrative voice is highly original. I even forgive the author a classic cliffhanger ending because he immediately apologizes but explains that's the only way to carry off his next idea for the series. I can't wait to hear what he has up his sleeve for Lillian and Will. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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The plot begins in 1947 New York City, after setting the tone with the protagonist’s tattoo session and boardwalk mugging. A client seeks help at Pentecost Investigations to find an elderly woman who has information even the Nazis would be interested in acquiring. Mrs. P (Lillian Pentecost) and her sidekick, Will (Willowjean Parker) work to find the woman.

The working relationship of Lillian Pentecost and Will Parker reminds me of the one Nero Wolfe has with Archie Goodwin. Will Parker works for Lillian Pentecost (Mrs. P), just as Archie Goodwin works for Nero Wolf. Both Will and Archie live in their employer’s home and entertain clients in their boss’s home office. Novels in both series are written from the sidekick’s perspective. While the Lillian Pentecost/ Will Parker pairing is interesting, I prefer the Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin duo. The plot in this novel is well-constructed and offers a satisfying resolution that wraps up all the loose ends. Thank you, Doubleday Books and NetGalley, for giving me the opportunity to read and review MURDER CROSSED HER MIND.

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Spotswood’s newest sojourn with Parker & Pentecost won me over from the first page. A protagonist with a Holmesian air, Lillian Pentecost is New York’s most brilliant investigator; enigmatic, analytical, logical, unruffled. Spotswood expertly partners her with Willowjean “Will” Parker, a wryly amusing, streetwise sidekick who is tough, resilient and thoughtful. In this episode, Forest Whitsun, a well-known defense lawyer, hires the duo to find a missing woman. Perseverance (Vera) Bodine is a retired law secretary, a recluse and shut-in, and an obsessive hoarder possessed of a prodigious memory lots of folk would like to get their hands on. She’s bequeathed the building she owns to Whitsun, which makes him suspect number one in her disappearance, but what did Vera know that put her in danger? And why was she obsessed by the innocence of a recent murder suspect?

Neighbours’ statements prove ambiguous and unhelpful. Vera’s old law firm partners are hiding something, and one of them has a vendetta against Whitsun. Meanwhile, Will has her own problems when she’s mugged and her gun, ID, and car keys are stolen. This brings her into contact with a violent mobster who enjoys playing with knives. And Pentecost is once again targeted by the evil Quincannon, a millionaire, blood-lusting collector of murder paraphernalia,

The ending pays tribute to Poirot’s suspect gatherings, and Spotswood leaves his novel on such a huge cliffhanger that he actually apologises for it. Backstory about previous cases is deftly woven through a narrative which becomes much more than Vera’s disappearance. It’s fast-paced with first-rate, humanly-flawed protagonists, lots of action right up to the last page, and interconnected side stories: a compelling read, which spirits readers into 1947 New York with ease. I’m eager for the next book and strongly recommend this one.

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The adventures of intrepid female private detectives Pentecost and Parker continue in 1947 NYC in the 4th mystery in the series, a worthy successor to the first three. Lillian Pentecost is slowed physically by her multiple sclerosis, but her mind is as razor-sharp as ever, and her reputation is unmatched. Willowjean (Will) Parker has worked with her boss for several years now, and her troubled childhood and years of experience with a traveling circus have equipped her with street smarts and physical adeptness.

The pair go all in when local defense attorney Forest Whitsun hires them to investigate the disappearance of a remarkable old woman. Perseverance (Vera) Bodine has an unparalleled memory for everything she has ever seen or heard, which made her indispensable and lucrative to the law firm where Whitsun first worked. Since Vera retired and became a self-imposed shut-in and hoarder, Whitsun has looked in on her frequently but is alarmed when she no longer answers the door.

Thus begins the type of investigation Pentecost & Parker are known for--highly detailed, analytical, intuitive, and daring--involving the FBI, a high-visibility law firm, a former fortune teller, a war criminal, and other assorted supporting characters. It's a dangerous escapade with a satisfying payoff at the end. We also get more glimpses into the detectives' personal lives, especially Will's concerns about a deadly past experience, a humiliating mugging, and her obsession with her new girlfriend, and something as yet unrevealed that has deeply disturbed Lillian.

There are clearly some unresolved issues at the end of the book, including the outcome of two other cases. The author apologizes in the Acknowledgments for ending the book in a cliffhanger, but I don't mind at all. It makes me look forward to the next installment, as the author promises, "The stakes are about to get raised for our heroines." Bring it!

My thanks to Doubleday and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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In the fourth installment of the Parker and Pentecost mysteries, Willowjean is taking ever larger risks, from facing down a Coney Island mobster to braving her worst claustrophobic attacks while searching the apartment of a missing hoarder. She's also forced to reevaluate everything she thought she knew and find humanity in some adversaries she once thought irredeemable (lawyers and FBI men). Sptoswood's real strength is in making readers care about every character by showing their foibles and what they care about most. This series is strong, and I can even forgive the shocking cliffhanger at the end--I just hope I won't have to wait too long for installment #5.

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Murder Crossed Her Mind is the fourth Parker and Pentecost mysteries by Stephen Spotswood. When the detective duo is tasked with finding Vera Bodine, and elderly woman who used to work in a lawyers office and had a talent for remembering things, they end up chasing Nazis, gangsters and the FBI while Willa also tries to deal with a couple who robbed her. As usual, the setting in 1947 New York adds to the story.

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The fourth installment in the Pentecost and Parker series, written in the style of the 1940s and 50s , hard-bitten, pull no punches crime stories.

Vera Bodine, an elderly recluse, is missing and her friend becomes concerned, because Vera never left her apartment - ever. Vera is a former law firm secretary with a photographic memory. Did she simply wander off or did someone become concerned about that photographic memory and think she might start telling secrets? Will and Lillian, called to investigate the situation. Will had a bit of bad luck herself - she got mugged and Lillian's Packard stolen. Will's gun is stolen, along with other personal items and Will, too upset to tell Lillian what really happened, tries to sort it out by herself. Meanwhile, Lillian is fighting some battles of her own. Their search for Miss Bodine uncovers possible Nazi officers, a murder, and an FBI connection.

Another nice addition to this series.

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