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City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
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City of Dragons (edition 2010)

by Kelli Stanley

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12710139,870 (3.28)17
Member:woodbear
Title:City of Dragons
Authors:Kelli Stanley
Info:Minotaur Books (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, DNFs
Rating:
Tags:DNF

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City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley

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Nothing like a new series to invigorate your reading, and City of Dragons stokes the flames. Kelli Stanley presents an image of San Francisco in 1940, as the threats of Hitler and the Japanese hinder the lingering aura of the Great Depression. Enter Miranda Corbie, a feisty and highly educated private detective. A Japanese youth dies in Miranda's arms and propels Miranda into drugs, sex, smuggling, and a world of unsavory characters. Stanley's language is rich, but Miranda and her love of Chesterfields provides too much smoke. Stanley skillfully omits much of Miranda's history, but provides little quips in passing. The book reminds me of the Shirley Tallman series, but Tallman’s character mingles with the upper crust of the 1890's in San Francisco, fifty years ahead of Miranda. Both Tallman and Stanley lean heavily on the glorious, if not defamatory history of San Francisco, and both create an interesting story. ( )
  delphimo | Feb 24, 2015 |
This historical mystery/classic noir P.I. tale is a prime example of one of the hardest books for me to review: a book whose technical brilliance is obvious, but it contains things that I just don't like. The only thing I can do is talk about the good stuff, itemize what I didn't care for, and let you make the ultimate decision on whether or not you want to read the book-- which is something you do anyway.

Under author Kelli Stanley's pen, the San Francisco of the 1940s -- in particular the Chinatown and Little Osaka neighborhoods-- comes to life and should be considered one of the primary characters. It is a wonderful evocation of a time and a place that I greatly enjoyed.

While reading City of Dragons, you will also feel as though you've stepped right into the pages of a classic noir private investigator tale. In my "mind's ear," I heard Stanley's characters speak in voices that were eerily akin to those of Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. This book is dark and twisted, make no mistake, and deducing the whys and wherefores led me on quite the chase. For anyone who loves this sort of book, I highly recommend it.

With all that's oh-so-right about the book, there were a few things that became very wearing to me as I read. True to the period, everyone and their brother smokes-- and to such an excess that cigarette smoke should rise from the pages each time the book is opened. I'm not the type of person who's vehemently anti-smoking, and characters who smoke-- as a rule-- don't bother me, but this book was an exception.

In order to get to know the main character, Miranda Corbie, you'll be forced to wave endless nicotine clouds from your face and prepare yourself to endure quite a bit of negativity and bitterness. True to the noir heart, Miranda is a tragically wounded hero. Her disillusionment escalated when she participated in the Spanish Civil War and continued when she returned to America and worked as an escort. Her first taste of life as a private investigator was working with someone who handled divorce cases-- and that's just the tip of Miranda's iceberg. Miranda has seen too much of the dark side, and it has deeply affected not only her outlook on life, but other aspects such as her speech. As someone tells her, "Watch your mouth. You talk like a sailor, not a professor's daughter." Having grown up among sailors and farmers, I'm accustomed to profanity and scatological references, but too much from anyone and I begin tuning them out. Not a good thing for conversation or for novel reading.

As I read City of Dragons, I found myself enjoying its depiction of San Francisco and its evocation of the 1940s and classic noir. But the more I read, the less I liked Miranda until she became a true liability. It's a shame, but I doubt that I'll continue with the series, and I'll admit that my decision is purely due to personal taste. However, if secondhand smoke and an embittered, much too serious main character don't bother you, you should be in for a real treat. ( )
  cathyskye | Nov 2, 2013 |
This is the story of a boy who bore a face so sad it made others cry. After running away from home and departing to a magical city of dragons, he finds that his sad face can serve a useful purpose. This is a good story with very nice illustrations to support it. ( )
  dbcollin | Oct 13, 2012 |
Occasionally goes a shade too far into noir patois, but the momentum of the story is unmistakable. ( )
  kylenapoli | Mar 14, 2012 |
This classic noir book, has a young woman detective who wants to solve a murder of a young man, killed right in front of her. Set in San Francisco's Chinatown early 1940's, she has a lot to over come. The police don't want her to get involved, the residents of Chinatown don't want to help, but she solves the crime anyway. ( )
  Ellens_ESO | Jan 22, 2012 |
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For Mom, Dad, and Tana -
and the friends I made and the family I found 
at Boucheron 2007 (Anchorage)
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Miranda didn't hear the sound he made when his face hit the sidewalk.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
February, 1940. 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 is a 33-year-old private investigator who stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops acquiesce. 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. An outstanding series debut.
[Publisher's description]
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312603606, Hardcover)

A 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

February, 1940. 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 is a 33-year-old private investigator who stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops acquiesce. 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. An outstanding series debut.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

February, 1940. 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 is a 33-year-old private investigator who stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up, and the cops acquiesce. 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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