Friday, September 02, 2011

Quickstep To Death - Ella Barrick

Quickstep To Murder
A Ballroom Dance Mystery
Ella Barrick
Four months ago, Stacy Graysin walked in on her fiancé and professional dance partner, Rafe, in bed with another woman.  Of course, the engagement ended then and there.  Too bad the same can’t be said for their business partnership.  Together, they own the ballroom dance studio Graysin Motion.  As award-winning competitive ballroom dancers, they attract a nice clientele of students.  Some want to compete as amateurs; some just want to learn to dance. 

Since neither Stacy nor Rafe can afford to buy out the other’s share of the business, they’re pretty much stuck with each other for the foreseeable future.  Even factoring in the broken engagement, it’s been uncomfortable.  Rafe seems far more interested in making fast money than usual; to the point that he’s advocating adding hip hop and tap classes and hosting annual recitals.  That’s not the kind of studio Stacy wants to run, and she’s more than a little surprised that Rafe is pushing for it.  He’s been acting odd recently, too, taking mysterious meetings in strange limos outside the studio and secretively taking phone calls he won’t discuss. 
When Stacy finds Rafe dead in the studio (which is attached to her home) she’s not completely surprised.  She is, however, surprised at the sorrow she feels over his death.  All of that is quickly overshadowed, though, when the responding detectives look to her as the prime suspect.  Then it turns out that Rafe was shot with the gun Stacy keeps in her nightstand drawer.  The only fact to mitigate her guilt is the fact that Rafe changed his will, leaving his half of the studio to someone else.  That’s another unpleasant shock.  Now Stacy needs to figure out who killed Rafe, keep her business running, and deal with an unknown business partner.

This is the first in a new series that looks like fun.  Stacy is a sort of everywoman caught up in awful events.  The detectives investigating the case are refreshingly realistic.  They’re annoyed by her interference and don’t seem to find her pluckiness at all endearing.  That’s how I would expect the police to react to civilians trying to conduct an investigation.  The truth is that Stacy doesn’t so much solve this case as have the solution dropped in her lap.  And that’s pretty realistic, too, really.  There are lots of suspects, all with clear and compelling motives, making for an interesting mystery.  I look forward to the next installment.

Rating: 7
September 2011
ISBN# 978-0-451-23454-4 (paperback)


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