CORPSE DE BALLET by Ellen Pall (see her website)
St. Martin's Minotaur, June 2001
Juliet Bodine really should be staying at home working on her overdue regency romance, but when her best friend Ruth is having trouble choreographing a new ballet of Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Juliet feels compelled to help. Her insights do help Ruth with the dance, but Juliet finds evidence that something suspicious is going on. First the rosen used to prevent the dancers from slipping is sabotaged, then the leading man is drugged. Is it an accidental overdose, or could it be murder. Juliet is sure that it is murder but no one, not even NYPD detective Murray Landis (who Juliet had a crush on when the two were in college) thinks she has a case.
Juliet insists on continuing the investigation while she helps her friend and writes her regency novel at the same time. The novel proves an interesting outlet to Juliet's frustrations as the heroine turns nasty on the hero just as Juliet is getting angry with Murray.
Author Ellen Pall (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of mysteries by Pall) has created a completely convincing ballet troup with all of the jealousy, intrigue, and sweat that you'd expect in such a professional organization. She is equally convincing with her description of the life of a romance author (although precious few regency authors earn enough to afford the lifestyle that Juliet enjoys--note, Pall writes regency novels under the pen name of Fiona Hill). A woman who detects as an excuse to stay away from her writing is a perfectly delightful concept and Pall pulls it off brilliantly.
After a slightly slow start (keep reading), Pall picks up the pace, delivering a fine mystery. Romance fans will enjoy the fact that Pall breaks all of the taboos of romance, while still delivering an intriguing sexual tension between Juliet and Murray. I look forward to seeing more of Juliet and Murray.
This one is a keeper.
Purchase CORPSE DE BALLET from Amazon.com (hardback).