by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Swan Dive. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
Swan Dive wastes no time diving into murder with a text alerting Elli Lisbon that the Sugar Plum Fairy is dead. Elli is director of the Sea Pine Island Community Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, sponsored by the Ballantyne Foundation, and Elli has become accustomed to handling the often overwrought and exaggerated “emergency” texts from the artistic director. Unfortunately, young ballerina Lexie Allen truly is dead in her dressing room, and Elli feels responsible for discovering just what happened to the promising college student. The dance world is cutthroat and known for its ruthlessness, but Elli soon learns that Lexie had also found a new passion for cooking and had recently entered an equally contentious cooking competition.
A PI-in-Training earning hours toward her license by taking on small assignments for the Ballantyne Foundation, Elli investigates Lexie’s rivals and romantic relationships. This puts her at odds with the two men already wreaking havoc in her personal life: Matty Gannon, her best friend (who is pushing for more), and Nick Ransom, Elli’s first love and the man who broke her heart twenty years ago. Nick is also a Sea Pines Police Department lieutenant warning her off investigating, which makes dates somewhat awkward. Elli’s past heartbreak and fears of losing a future friendship preventing her from moving forward in either relationship, but neither situation feels manipulative or like a plot device.
Few settings could be more ruthless than ballet and Dance Moms, but the addition of a televised Master Chef-type show only means there are more personalities willing to kill for their ambitions. Elli enhances this entertaining atmosphere with her OCD rituals and germ-phobic tendencies that regulate and complicate her life. Family relationships are underlined through stage-moms and Elli’s loyalty to the Ballantynes. Elli conducts her detecting with confidence and an occasional lack of foresight, but has the skills and intelligence to pull it off. The fascinating worlds of professional dance and cooking are rife with eccentric personalities, and Elli herself is an admirable and engaging heroine. Deft writing and clever dialogue further ensure that readers will be looking forward to the next installment of Elli’s adventures.
To enter to win a copy of Swan Dive, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Swan,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 28, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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