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Missed Cue
Lynn Slaughter
A star ballerina dancing the role of Juliet fails to awake from her pretend slumber in retired professional dancer Slaughter ‘s (Deadly Setup) first Caitlin O’Connor mystery. New Haven, Conn., police detective O’Connor and her partner Sergeant Stan Bisso are assigned to investigate when ballerina Lydia Miseau’s death scene as Juliet in the ballet Romeo and Juliet becomes all too real. Their prime suspect is Lydia’s husband, Victor Pesetsky, Ballet Études’ artistic director who has a heart condition and prescription for nitroglycerin, the same medication mixed into Lydia’s face makeup that caused her death. As the body count rises, and a custodian working for the ballet company is found dead, Caitlin feels immense pressure from her boss to quickly close the case, adding to her already high stress level related to her ill-fated affair with married medical examiner Chet Roberts.

Slaughter’s knowledge of the world of professional dance adds to the credibility of this murder scenario, especially considering the financial difficulties faced by smaller dance companies striving to keep afloat—as the star Lydia had a $10 million insurance policy, the payout for which will give Ballet Études a much-needed infusion of cash. The plotline is richly enhanced by the expert character development which reveals Caitlin’s continued desire to please her deceased father, a former police detective, and her therapy-induced discovery that her rosy view of her parents’ relationship was not entirely accurate.

The introspective view of the characters’ personal relationships and the reality of the long hours and lack of financial rewards related to a career in policing keeps the plotline moving swiftly forward, imbuing it with authenticity. Added to the fast pace is sharp characterization and many intriguing red herrings along the way to solving Lydia’s murder, leading readers on a twisty path of discovering the identity of the killer, making the explosive conclusion that much more rewarding.

Takeaway: Intriguing whodunnit set in the high-stakes world of a professional ballet company.

Comparable Titles: Catherine Moloney’s Crime in the Ballet, Alison Stone’s Corpse de Ballet.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A