Friday, June 29, 2012

Dead Man Waltzing - Ella Barrick

Dead Man Waltzing
A Ballroom Dance Mystery
Ella Barrick
There’s devastating news in the tight-knit world of professional ballroom dancing: Corrine Blakely, the grande dame of dancing and the woman who spearheaded the movement to get ballroom dancing recognized as an Olympic event, is dead.  She collapsed suddenly during lunch with longtime friend and onetime husband, Maurice.  The two were married briefly in the 60s, but remained friends.  Maurice is an instructor at the studio Graysin Motion, owned by professional ballroom dancer Stacy Graysin.
Stacy has recently had some unfortunate experience with homicide investigations, since her former fiancé was a victim (QUICKSTEP TO MURDER.)  Of course, she knows that Maurice would never kill anyone, let along Corrine, but the police don’t agree.  Maurice is the prime, and as far as anyone can see, the only suspect.  After conferring, the two agree that it must have had something to do with the memoir Corrine was rumored to be writing.  Who knows what long-covered secrets might be unearthed there?  Stacy knows that Maurice is innocent, and, despite orders from the police and protests from friends and family, decides that she’s in the best position to find out the truth.
This is the second in this series, and it’s quite entertaining.  There’s no sign of the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ here.  The idea of a memoir is a good one, and puts a huge pool of suspects into play, especially since Corrine lived such a full and exciting life.  There are plenty of dancers, judges, and colleagues who might worry about what she’s writing; not to mention the six or seven ex-husbands who might not want their laundry aired.  And there’s her adult son who’s had substance problems, and her entitled grandson who was expelled from several universities for cheating.  So many people who wouldn’t want the truth published for the world to see.

Despite her self-admitted impulsiveness, Stacy comes across as a woman who truly wants to help a friend avoid being prosecuted.  She’s no professional investigator, but she knows a lot of the players and is able to legitimately discuss the dancing world – and, by extension, Corrine – with them.  The writing style is breezy and the pages fly by effortlessly, uncovering one clue (or non-clue) after another.  It’s easy to see why Stacy’s friends and family support her.  She could be anyone you know, just trying to do the right thing.  As before, the supporting cast, including her family and Vitaly, her dance partner, add a real genuine feeling to the proceedings.
Rating: 7 ½
June 2012
ISBN# 978-0-451-23734-7 (paperback)


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