February, 1940.Gone With the Wind
packs movie palaces two months after its December premiere.
“Moonlight Serenade” echoes from jukeboxes all over the country. And the Sino-Japanese war still rages, while France waits anxiously for the Nazi blitzkrieg to hammer the Maginot line. In San Francisco’s Chinatown, fireworks explode as the city celebrates Chinese New Year with a Rice Bowl Party, a three day-and-night carnival designed to raise money and support for China war relief.
Miranda Corbie—thirty-three-year-old private investigator, Spanish Civil War nurse and ex-escort, waits impatiently in the crowd. Until small-time numbers runner EddieTakahashi stumbles into Sacramento Street and into her life … fatally shot.
The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops acquiesce. Japanese boy in a Chinese carnival ... wrong place at the wrong time. All Miranda wants is justice—whatever it costs. From Chinatown tenements to a tattered tailor’s shop in Little Osaka, to a high-class bordello draped in Southern Gothic—she shakes down the city—her city—seeking the truth.CITY OF DRAGONS
is a sprawling, visceral novel of San Francisco in 1940, a world of race wars and class wars, a world in which sexual threat is as casual as a five cent cigar. It is also a beautiful world … of hats and neon night clubs, Harry James and Chesterfields, of a World’s Fair ready to reopen in just three short months.
It’s Miranda’s world. And she’ll die to protect the good in it.
Because part of her died a long time ago…Indie Next Book for FebruaryAn Alternate Selection of the Mystery GuildPublishers Weekly Starred ReviewLibrary Journal Starred ReviewBooklist Starred ReviewRT Book Reviews Top Pick for February (4 1/2 stars)
“Beautifully imagined and beautifully written—this book does everything great fiction is supposed to.”Lee Child
“CITY OF DRAGONS is big and ambitious, both reverent and original. Author Kelli Stanley has her eye on greatness.” George Pelecanos
"CITY OF DRAGONS is a stunning recreation of
time and place that I greatly enjoyed . . . as will everyone who
reads it."Robert B. Parker
“A powerful crime novel ... Stanley’s dialogue bristles with attitude, the atmosphere is as thick as the bay fog, and her protagonist is a great new dame in crime fiction. A smart, stunning thriller.”Linda Fairstein
“Come … rush headlong into 1940’s San Francisco, wreathed in fog and Chinatown secrets.
A city just like Stanley’s noir heroine, Miranda Corbie, an ex-escort and current private eye, forever ‘a girl you didn’t take home to mother.’ But I’ll bet Raymond Chandler would have liked to get her number.
You’ll be asking yourself why reading CITY OF DRAGONS – a story as dark as black coffee – makes you feel so good. And it does.
Take a sip. I dare you.”Louise Ure
“Kelli Stanley’s CITY OF DRAGONS blew me to ribbons.
From the opening chapter, we’re rooting for Miranda, a marvelous, feisty, compassionate heroine who is my favourite P.I. to come down the mean streets in oh, so long.
Superb characterisations … and a story to make you weep. Fathers will never seem quite the same again. From the opening quote by Cornell Woolrich, we’re off and gasping, and not just from the lovely evocations of another era of Chesterfields.
Polish up the Shamus, I know where it’s headed this year.”Ken Bruen
“Evocative and taut, Kelli Stanley’s CITY OF DRAGONS bursts with dark atmosphere.
Fans of Raymond Chandler and Megan Abbott should add Stanley to their list of must-read authors.”Tasha Alexander
"All I could think of as I watched Miranda Corbie, the red-headed babe and licensed private eye, fast-talk her way through this cool book was how much fun the author must have had immersing herself in the B-movie world she's so lovingly recreated. Readers will have fun, too."Otto Penzler, ed., Best American Noir Stories of the Century
"In Kelli Stanley’s deft, sure hands, the classic noir form is transformed: CITY OF DRAGONS is imbued with the colors, sounds, emotions and excitement of true history.
She blends the urgent fears of a world on the brink of a world-shattering war with the gritty realities of the San Francisco streets: exploitation, racial prejudice, and the tawdry sins of everyday criminals.
Stanley’s Miranda Corbie is tougher than tough, more of a hero than any man within the tantalizing scent of her ubiquitous Chesterfields.
CITY OF DRAGONS is an explosive, important book—and the best part is an ending that will blow you away."Laura Benedict
“Kelli Stanley’s CITY OF DRAGONS is stunning, pitch-perfect noir. She conjures forth a lost, poignant, and darkly luminous San Francisco in which Hammett - and LA’s Chandler - would feel immediately at home.”Cornelia Read
"Kelli Stanley manages to achieve some very difficult things in CITY OF DRAGONS: recreating time and place powerfully but without excessive romanticizing, honoring the noir classics without losing any sense of originality, and capturing the events and tensions of the world without losing the story along the way. It takes a very skilled writer to achieve something like this.
Written in a prose style that's simultaneously staccato and smooth, CITY OF DRAGONS is a compelling and powerful novel."Michael Koryta
“Kelli Stanley’s haunting narrative voice seduces us into the gritty, racist, and somehow gorgeous CITY OF DRAGONS that is 1940 San Francisco.
I wondered how the scope of the crime could possibly be big enough to match the voice, the complex characters, and the powerful setting. And yet Stanley’s ending paid off perfectly.
This is one of my favorite novels of all time.
Watch out, Sam Spade, Miranda Corbie is a woman hardboiled and feminine enough to keep you in line!”Rebecca Cantrell