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Death Was the Other Woman: A Mystery
by Linda L. Richards
With writing so sharp you can almost taste the bootleg whiskey, feel the green baize of the gaming tables and the Detroit-steel pull of a car so big, you’d be tempted to sail it to Catalina, Death Was the Other Woman introduces a new heroine of the hardboiled: Kitty Pangborn.
“You’re about to meet a new great dame of crime fiction in Death Was the Other Woman. Linda L. Richards does a stunning job in creating a character with a voice and eye right out of a 1930s L.A. hard-boiled classic: guns and gams, booze and bodies, peepers and perps. Move over, Sam Spade: Kitty Pangborn is on the case.” -- LINDA FAIRSTEIN, author of Death Dance
"Death Was the Other Woman is a perfectly nuanced narration. I felt thrown back in time, like I was smack in the middle of a film noir." -- LISA LUTZ, author of The Spellman Files
As the lawlessness of Prohibition pushes against the desperation of the Depression, there are two ways to make a living in Los Angeles: join the criminals or collar them.
Kitty Pangborn has chosen the crime-fighters, becoming secretary to Dexter J. Theroux, one of the hard-drinking, tough-talking PIs that pepper the city's stew. But after Dex takes an assignment from Rita Heppelwaite, the mistress of Harrison Dempsey, one of L.A.'s shadiest -- and richest -- businessmen, Kitty isn't so sure what side of the law she's on.
Rita suspects Dempsey has been stepping out on both his wife and his mistress, and so she's asked Dex to tail her lover. It's an easy enough task, but Dex's morning stroll with Johnnie Walker would make it tough for him to trail his own shadow. Kitty insists she go along for the ride, keeping her boss -- and hopefully her salary -- safe. However, she's about to realize that there's something far more unpleasant than a three-timing husband at the end of this trail, and that there's more at risk than just her paycheck.
Richly satisfying and stylishly gritty, Death Was the Other Woman gives a brand new twist to the hard-boiled style, revealing that while veteran PIs like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe spent their time slugging scotch and wooing women, it may well have been the Girl Fridays of the world who really cracked their cases.
Death Was the Other Woman
by Linda L. Richards
“… this stylish and atmospheric first-person mystery defies easy expectations …. Elegant prose and well-rounded characters make this fresh take on the old PI tale a real find.” -- Mystery Scene
“Using a female narrator for a Depression-era noir tale seems a calculated strategy, but Richards makes it work naturally. Kitty, whose life of privilege disappeared when her father killed himself after the 1929 stock market crash, brings a peculiarly ironic point of view, filtering the tough guys, broads, gats, and gunsels through a patrician context that makes all the hard-boiled posturing seem as silly as high-society tomfoolery. Honoring the noir tradition while turning it on its head, Richards’ richly detailed period portrays a world in which lifestyles, whether high or low, become an elaborate defense against a harsh environment in which there is only one final act and the trick is to determine the time the curtain falls. Expect to hear more from Kitty Pangborn.” -- Booklist
“This is a great period piece with action aplenty and nostalgia-evoking characters. Kitty is a delight, and fans of Megan Abbott’s noir crime novels will enjoy.” -- Library Journal
“Richards takes a break from her Madeline Carter series (Mad Money, etc.) with this winning hard-boiled 1931 whodunit with a twist: the main sleuth is not world-weary L.A. PI Dex Theroux, but his loyal secretary and assistant, Kitty Pangborn. Well-developed lead characters, in particular the insightful Kitty, who shows potential as a series detective…” -- Publishers Weekly
“Richards’ spot-on portrayal of 1930s California -- the tumultuous social and political atmosphere, the fashions, the vernacular -- make this a must read for palookas, mooks and twists with enough spondulix to spare for some rip-roaring, hard-boiled literary escapism.” -- The Chicago Tribune
“Richards introduces the refreshing heroine Kitty Pangborn, a socialite turned investigator's secretary who's broad in the best possible sense, a cross between meddlesome Torchy Blaine and wordly Nora Charles. The girl Friday helps her hapless P.I. boss solve a murder in Prohibition-era Los Angeles.” -- The National Post
“For something really snappy -- a dandy, old-school hard-boiled detective story, told from the point of view of a tough PI's equally tough secretary -- go no further than Linda L. Richards’ Death Was the Other Woman. -- Seattle Times
“Author Linda Richards has a pair of hard-boiled angels on her shoulders -- names of Spade and Marlowe….Richards writes with wit and sharp dialogue that propels the reader into the Depression era with the ease of a Packard transmission. The descriptive speakeasy atmosphere sparkles with good plotting, pacing as racy as the nightclub scene she describes and a satisfying twist at the end …. I’m not usually a fan of this style, but I loved Death Was the Other Woman, cover to cover, speakeasy to nightclub and crime to solution.” -- The Hamilton Spectator
“Richards’ hardcover debut transports readers back in time ot Depression-era Los Angeles, where gang warfare abounds and private detectives walk a fine line between upholding the law and breaking it. Katherine (Kitty) Pangborn is a fabulous heroine…” -- Romantic Times
“Death Was the Other Woman will appeal to fans of historical whodunits as well as devotees of pulp-style fiction a la works by Megan Abbott.” -- Newsday
“A twist to noir.” -- The Windsor Star
“This campy first-person thriller is set in Prohibition-Depression era L.A. Kitty Pangborn works for a P.I. who finds many ways to land them in the soup, as they say.” -- The Sacramento Bee
“A delightful homage to hard-boiled P.I. yarns.” -- Washington C.E.O.
“The author has created an excellent period mystery. The memorable characters combine sharp dialogue and quick wit. Death Was the Other Woman is an entertaining and fun crime novel that kept me guessing to the end.” -- The Joplin Globe
“This is a noir thriller in the classic Dash Hammett/Raymond Chandler mode, only Kitty Pangborn, secretary to PI Dexter Theroux, is not a secondary character.” -- Vancouver Sun, editor’s choice
“Throughout this stellar novel, Richards perfectly evokes the moody lawlessness of Depression-era Los Angeles and the crisp prose of classic noir fiction.” -- The Calgary Herald
“Richards takes the time to fully develop her characters without sacrificing the momentum of the story. Death Was the Other Woman is an entertaining novel that takes you on a thrill ride through the criminal underworld of Depression-era Los Angeles without ever leaving your living room. Her vivid descriptions are as good as a time machine.” -- Saskatoon Star Phoenix
“With a historical period where the balances of power and class have been forcefully tipped, Richards skillfully weaves a plot that hinges on more than whodunnit. Many mystery authors will use a tool of distraction -- a major but ultimately useless personal goal for the main character, a ridiculous romantic interlude, or worse, a massive list of secondary and tertiary characters that simply keep the reader’s head spinning. Quite obviously, this keeps the plot enshrined in mystery but often at the expense of energy and pacing. Richards employs no such distractions. Instead, she creates unfinished personal narratives for a few clear characters and simply confronts their fears, hopes and failures as people at every turn, making their paths cross in unexpected ways. In a sense, she distracts the reader from solving the mystery with her clearly drawn setting and gradually enriched character development. What a concept!” -- Monday Magazine
“This book is virtually guaranteed to keep you up into the wee hours. Moody and atmopheric, it has just the right mix of sympathetic but flawed protaganists, mysterious, sexy clients and lumbering bad guys, coming together in a wonderfully complex plot, all set against the backdrop of Depression-era L.A.” -- The Historical Novels Review
“Check out Death was the Other Woman for a rollicking good time. You won’t be disappointed.” -- The Richmond Review
“Every so often a book comes along and just sweeps you away; which is exactly what Richards’ homage to private eye fiction of the 1930s did for me …. Taking the familiar conventions that shaped the work of Chandler, Hammett and the like; Richards reshapes them from their genre-mould, creating a fresh outlook on the era we term the “golden age.” …. The writing is well researched, captivating, hard-boiled but with a compassionate eye that makes it impossible to escape the flow of the narrative …. In a day when some books come to my table bloated, over-written and vanilla, it is with sheer delight to read such a sharp and captivating mystery. I felt moved by the descriptions of poverty but also by the sheer pride and resourcefulness in Kitty Pangborn. I have a prediction: Pangborn will become a major character in the genre, because her life … makes me thirst for more. At times the book is heartbreaking, at times it’s fast and furious and at times perceptive about how people lie and deceive -- but at all times it showcases brilliant storytelling. I loved it completely as it is an excellent tale of a bygone age told by an unusual talent featuring an amazing character.” -- Shots Magazine UK
“Richards has done a terrific job not only in nailing Kitty’s post-Prohibition lingo, which is peppered with euphemisms straight out of any smoky late-night picture show, but also in capturing a lost world of fedora-topped tough guys, underworld dives and domestic melodramas from a time when those Desperate Housewives would have been run out of town or worse.” -- Clayton Moore, Bookslut
“… a film noirish mystery that kicks in gear on the first page and never lets up …. Richards’ got the thirties lingo down pat, and the book brims with atmosphere and enough plot turns to give you whiplash. -- Dame Magazine
“If you liked... The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett or Die a Little by Megan Abbott, this book is for you.” This Book Is For You
“You’ve got all of the familiar conventions of the genre (femme fatales, gangsters, speakeasies etc.) but the story is made fresh and unique by telling it from Kitty’s perspective. Kitty not only helps Dex with his investigations but also does some snooping on her own, and I like that she's not the type of heroine who clumsily stumbles upon the killer. She's smart, intuitive and is more practical than romantic. Each character in the book, from Kitty to Dex, to the mysterious Mustard and glamorous Brucie are complex and interesting, and I missed them all when I finished the book.” -- Dewey Divas and the Dudes
“Stylish and edgy, Death Was the Other Woman has everything an old-school mystery fanatic could want in a good, old-fashioned mystery: an intriguing plot with more twists and turns than a canyon road in the Hollywood Hills, a cast of quirky characters and a stunning new protagonist in Katherine Pangborn, fiendishly scintillating crimes with double-crossers who get double-crossed (and murdered), and tons of page-turner fun. The bottom line is this: Death Was the Other Woman is an absolute winner. Don't miss it!” -- Bookloons Reviews
“Even if you aren’t typically into the mystery genre, I encourage you to pick up this book …. Highly recommended.” -- Armchair Interviews
“Linda L. Richards introduces readers to a new fascinating detective team in a fine historical mystery.” -- Genre Go Round Reviews
“Long-time fans of hard-boiled detective writers Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler or newcomers to the genre are in for a fun ride when Linda L. Richards’ 1930s gal Friday … and her liquor-loving L.A. gumshoe boss, … team up to solve a missing persons (or is it murder?) case in Death Was the Other Woman …. first class entertainment.” -- Mystery Book News
“Did I guess it? Some of it. Favorite character? Dex’s buddy, Mustard, a born fixer. Will I read another? Yes. The odd pairing of Kitty and Dex makes this book … a winner.” -- Reviewed by Liz
“Nicely done and reminiscent of some of the pre World War II classics.” -- Bookbitch
“Death Was The Other Woman is a wonderful, exciting book. When you … unravel all of the threads you will find a very surprising ending.” -- Internet Book Database
“… Death Was the Other Woman is first class entertainment. There’s an historical richness to the 1930’s references to L.A and ‘Frisco landmarks … [the] plot is solid and with enough surprises to keep the reader glued to the page.” -- Mysterious Reviews
“Sharp, vibrant and crackling. One chapter in to Linda L. Richards’ sparkling 1930s Los Angeles mystery, Death was the Other Woman, and we’d follow her smart, resourceful, spirited heroine, Kitty Pangborn, down any dark alley, any mean street.” -- MEGAN ABBOTT, author of The Song is You and Queenpin
“You're about to meet a new great dame of crime fiction in Death was the Other Woman. Linda L. Richards does a stunning job in creating a character with a voice and eye right out of a 1930's L.A. hard-boiled classic: guns and gams, booze and bodies, peepers and perps. Move over, Sam Spade: Kitty Pangborn is on the case.” -- LINDA FAIRSTEIN, author of Death Dance
"Linda L. Richards can grab her readers better than a slap in the puss or a slug from a forty-five. She breathes new life into the L.A. Noir genre with an array of fresh characters and stylishly seedy neon-lit dives. More importantly, she moves the gritty crime genre on in the form of Kitty Pangborn, a well brought up young lady who gets a crash course in the dark underbelly of the City of Angels. She may be a longsuffering PA to a less than successful PI, but Kitty is no kitten. She's the broad with the brains, and readers will be left clamoring for more." -- BRENDAN FOLEY, author Under the Wire, director The Riddle
"With crackling dialogue and bang-on authenticity, Death was the Other Woman engrossed me in a terrific, compelling mystery. With memorable characters and settings, Richards manages to dig beneath the surface of Prohibition-era Los Angeles and give a sense of its historical context. A great read!" -- DANIEL KALLA, internationally bestselling author of Pandemic and Blood Lies
“Death was the Other Woman propelled me straight into depression-era Los Angeles, a really stunning and exciting achievement. And the murder kept me guessing right to the page turning end. On top of that, the lively characters have walked off the page and now pursue me long after I've closed the book. A really stellar crime caper, a delight.” -- LOUISE PENNY, author of Still Life
"Reading Death was the Other Woman was like stumbling across a long-lost and wonderful Orson Welles flick. It's a pitch-perfect story of Depression-era LA that's so damn good I recommend calling in sick to work and making a plate of sandwiches before you start reading, because you won't want to put it down for anything--including such petty concerns as food, drink, sleep, and oncoming Packards and locomotives." --CORNELIA READ, author of The Crazy School
“Kitty Pangborn, the narrator of Linda Richards' winning new mystery, Death was the Other Woman, is just what every underachieving, over-imbibing, minimally employed, and maximally hard-boiled PI needs: that is, a decent secretary. … Death was the Other Woman is a first-rate, rousing new take on the Southern California detective novel. Let's hope it's the beginning of a long series.” -- DYLAN SCHAFFER, author of I Right the Wrongs