Kelli Stanley
  • Female
  • San Francisco, CA
  • United States
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Kelli Stanley's Discussions

Reality Bites
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Margot Renne Payne Aug 27, 2007.

Musical Noir
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Kelli Stanley Aug 23, 2007.

Writing in the Dark

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San Francisco
About Me:
THE CURSE-MAKER--sequel to my debut "Roman noir" novel NOX DORMIENDA--releases on February 1st, 2011, from Thomas Dunne/Minotaur.

Arcturus—legionary physician and sometime investigator for Agricola, the governor of Britannia—has seen enough of war. But the half-native, half-Roman reluctant soldier faces nother battle for his beloved wife's soul ...

It's the fall of 837 a.u.c. (84 AD), and Gwyna—Arcturus' headstrong and beautiful wife—is distant, troubled, disconnected. Agricola insists that Arcturus take her to Aquae Sulis (Bath), a fashionable health resort in the west of Britannia, where the hot springs and healthful atmosphere are sure to rejuvenate her.
Instead, they find the corpse of a curse-writer floating in the sacred spring of the goddess Sulis.

Evil has taken root in the city, and something has corrupted any goodness from the goddess' waters. Something wicked beneath the reflection of the blue, bubbling spring ...

From a haunted silver mine in the hills above Aquae Sulis to the underground tunnels of the enormous buildings built for the sick and dying that flock to the town, they encounter a city that festers with corruption, more hellish than health-spa, running on magic water and faith in cure-alls, populated by social-climbing boors, quacks, and nephews with rich, sickly aunts. A resort more dangerous than the war Arcturus left behind.

Now he must fight again—to save his marriage ... and their lives.

THE CURSE-MAKER is a sequel to the award-winning NOX DORMIENDA, the first book of the Roman Noir series created by Kelli Stanley (CITY OF DRAGONS). Wedding impeccably-researched history to prose and themes reminiscent of classic hard-boiled writers, THE CURSE-MAKER is a thrilling and suspenseful journey to a dark corner of Roman Britain. Don't go near the water.

My second novel and the first book of the Miranda Corbie series, CITY OF DRAGONS, launched from Minotaur on February 2, 2010.
CITY OF DRAGONS was an Indie Next Pick for February, 2010, a Killer Book selection from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, a #2 bestseller from IMBA, a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews, an alternate selection of the Mystery Guild, and earned three starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal. It is currently available in hardcover, e-book and audio, and large print. A paperback will be released in September, 2011.

CITY OF SECRETS, the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS, will be published in September, 2011. "Children's Day"--a short story prequel to CITY OF DRAGONS--is included in the ITW anthology FIRST THRILLS: High Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Authors, published on June 22, 2010, and available in audio and e-book. A paperback will be published in June.

NOX DORMIENDA, my debut novel, won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award, and was nominated for a Macavity Award.

For more more information about my books--including history, videos, and ephemera--please visit my website at
I Am A:
Books And Authors I Like:
In no order:
Raymond Chandler, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Hammett, Woolrich, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, L'Engle, the Brontes, Fitzgerald, and many friends and contemporaries, too many to list ...
Movies And TV Shows I Like:
Film Noir, film noir, film noir. German Expressionism, early '30s musicals, Warner crime melodramas, B-movie science-fiction, Italian neo-realism, John Ford westerns, Judy Garland, screwball comedies, pre-code soaps ...
If pressed to name a favorite of favorites: Casablanca. Favorite Noir: Gilda.
And who has time for television?

Leave more than your heart in 1940 San Francisco ...

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 February
An Alternate Selection of the Mystery Guild
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Library Journal Starred Review
Booklist Starred Review
RT 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

Kelli Stanley's Blog


February 2nd is almost upon us--and my fingers are crossed that the groundhog comes out to read CITY OF DRAGONS. :)

I'm about to embark on a West Coast tour -- Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Scottdale. We'll be closing out with an afternoon Valentine's Day party at Poisoned Pen on the 14th.

The 14th itself is not only Valentine's Day, but Chinese New Year (Year of the Tiger) and the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Maltese Falcon ... all of… Continue

Posted on January 20, 2010 at 7:36am

Almost there!

Hard to believe that it's only a couple of months until CITY OF DRAGONS is released. It's been a fast-moving year!

To celebrate, I'm running a contest in December and January for a scarce ARC--combined with a basket of themed gifts from San Francisco's Chinatown.

Just go to my website at and sign up for my newsletter. It's spam-free and not very frequent.… Continue

Posted on December 8, 2009 at 9:57am

Comment Wall (85 comments)

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At 1:47pm on September 14, 2009, Sean Chercover said…
Looking forward to it! See you at B'con.
At 9:05am on February 4, 2009, Reece Hirsch said…
Kelli -- I do plan to make it to the next MWA lunch on the 21st. We're on -- veggie ravioli at John's Grill!
At 3:18am on February 4, 2009, Reece Hirsch said…
Kelli -- Thanks for the invite! It's nice to meet another Bay area writer. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to talk one of these days at an MWA Norcal meeting.

Nox Dormienda sounds really intriguing. And what a cool blurb from Ken Bruen!

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