Swan Dive has so many of my favorite things: The Nutcracker ballet, Christmas, wit, humor, and, perhaps most importantly, sparkling writing by Kendel Lynn. This is the third Elliott Lisbon mystery and my favorite, thus far. I finally decided if I was Team Ransom or Team Matty and, in the sign of a great plot (in my humble opinion), was completed blindsided by the culprit.
It’s Opening Night at the Ballantyne Foundation’s production of The Nutcracker, but it’s curtains for the Sugar Plum Fairy. When her body is found backstage, fatally poisoned by a cupcake she baked herself, rumors turn to suicide. But Elli Lisbon, director of the Ballantyne and coordinator of the ballet, smells something rotten amidst the sugar and spice.
As Elli applies her PI-in-training skills on the troupe of suspects, she discovers an eccentric herbalist, a temperamental chef, a stalking choreographer, and a bevy of backstage secrets. Between her off-the-record investigation, duty as director, and highly-charged love life, she finds herself caught in a dance to stay one pirouette ahead of a half-baked killer.
Nothing dampens an opening night like finding the body of a principal dancer. But, as we all know, the show must go on. That catch phrase follows Elliott Lisbon around throughout Swan Dive, whether the show in question was The Nutcracker, the Palm & Fig celebration, or decorating the Ballantyne Foundation Christmas tree. Somehow, she always pulls it off admirably.
I really love the warmth in the way Mr. & Mrs. Ballantyne are written, as well as the sharply distinctive personalities attributed to characters like Zibby and Jane. Working with a board for a nonprofit at The Day Job, I can appreciate the nuances of the Foundation staff and board members. (And, like previous books, I am reserving the right to nab some of Elliott’s creative ideas for events and gatherings!) Elliott is funny and smart, full of wit and many other attractive qualities; she’s the kind of character you wish you could befriend. And, like Elliott, I finally decided which Team I’m on with regard to the men in her life.
Swan Dive is a great read; I highly recommend adding it to the top of your to-be-read pile.
Many thanks to my friends at Henery Press for the advance copy of Swan Dive!