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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

‘The Dancer’s Ghost’ by Jayne-Marie Barker

Published by Austin Macauley Publishers,
November 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-8496-3329-1

The Dancer's Ghost is set in two time periods, 1959 into the early 1960s and the present day. In both times, loss and tragedy haunt two women. In 1959, young dancer Joyce Capelli's baby was stolen from the hospital soon after her birth. Joyce's family has concealed her pregnancy from journalists and the dancing world and she has nobody to turn to. Her father values her fame and earning ability as a professional ballroom dancer far more than he cares about her happiness and Joyce suspects that he is behind her child's abduction. Her mother is completely subservient to her father, and Michael, Joyce's lover and dancing partner, seems unwilling to risk more pain by aiding her attempts to find their child. Although Joyce returns to competition dancing and, with Michael as her partner, achieves great success, she is determined that she will track down her child, whatever the cost to herself.

In contemporary times, Rebecca Houseman has suddenly become a widow after her husband collapsed and died. Devastated by Craig's death, Rebecca is shocked when the police inform her that Craig was poisoned and this is followed by several attempts upon her own life. Bereaved, afraid, haunted by strange dreams and wondering what her dying husband was trying to tell her, Rebecca is determined not to give up on life. She joins a Samba class and makes new friends, including the attractive and kind drum player, Paul. Rebecca discovers that she has a love and talent for dance. She is supported by her loving family and befriended by the unconventional DCI Allen, who is determined to discover the truth behind Craig's death and the attacks on Rebecca.

This is a beautifully crafted novel, with the threads that link Joyce Capelli and Rebecca Houseman subtly interwoven. Both women are appealing characters and the story was compelling, especially strong in the description of the very different relationships the two women had with their families and the wonderfully vibrant descriptions of dance. This is a page-turner and I would definitely recommend it.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Jayne-Marie Baker writes mystery thrillers with a romantic twist, and has an unlimited capacity to adore cold cases and double time lines. She enjoys murder mysteries minus the blood and guts, loves all things literary, cats, elephants and butterflies. As a creative person, she enjoys reading as much as writing it, dancing, spending time with her family and friends, and looks forward to the future with ambition and hope.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013

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