Book Review: “City of Dragons” by Kelli Stanley


Genre:  Mystery (Miranda rocks!)

Rating:  3.5 WaterTowers

This was an ARC sent to me by Kelli Stanley.  It will be in stores in Feb 2010.

Miranda Corbie, troubled, chain-smoking, ex-escort, Spanish War nurse, part-time Worlds Fair employee, PI, was walking home during the Chinese New Year celebration when a nearly dead Eddie Takahashi crossed her path.

He died with her by his side.  In 1940 San Francisco….a Japanese young man dies in Chinatown and no one cares.  Not the Chamber, not the police.

Miranda cares.

Wanting to find Eddie’s murderer, Miranda starts digging for clues.  But there are those who do not want her to keep looking.  The police for one.   And two people in a mysterious green Olds for another.

Taking on a new case, one that pays, to find the missing daughter of a recently deceased Pickwick Hotel guest, Phyllis Winters, Miranda continues her investigation into Eddie’s death.

As she learns more….the two cases start to merge.  The Pickwick death turns out to be murder and Miranda knows more about who might be involved than is safe.  Not good.  The people in the green Olds have new orders–kill Miranda–and they almost succeed.

Injured, limping, face battered and swollen, Miranda continues her investigation, a little more carefully now, and with the help (well sort of) of police detective Gonzales.

What Miranda ultimately finds reaches far beyond what anyone can imagine.   You are going to have to read “City of Dragons” to learn more.

1940 San Francisco is a much different place than we now know.  Miranda is a “broad” making it on her own in a world where political correctness does not exist and prejudices, of all kinds, abound.  Melding of Chinese, Japanese, and Italian cultures, San Francisco history,  with old fashioned male and female roles, make “City of Dragons” tremendously entertaining reading.

It took me awhile to become comfortable with Kelli Stanley’s writing style (which is, hmmmm, I suppose “terse” might explain it best).   But once past that, I found myself transported back to the sometimes seedy back streets of San Francisco, fedora on my head helping Miranda find her man (and urging her to quit smoking).

This is the first in a series with Miranda Corbie as the main character.  As such, the details of her life are given to the reader in small doses.  We know she lost a lover, Johnny, in 1937, and that she is very troubled because of that loss.  We know she was a nurse in the Spanish War…in Spain.

“She found him there.  But it wasn’t him.  It was someone who looked like him, but already didn’t smell like him.  Someone who had been too close to a shell.  Too close. To the front.  Too close.  To the cause.  Too close.  To her.


We briefly meet Miranda’s estranged father and learn a bit about her childhood, but, again, not much.  Needless to say…. I’m looking forward to the next book where I hope to learn more.

If you love a good mystery, a bit of  history, and San Francisco (who doesn’t) go to the bookstore in February 2010 and pick up a copy of “City of Dragons”…you will love it!


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