|Stacy Graysin, owner of Graysin Motion dance studios just outside of Washington, D.C. is doing her best to stay afloat and keep her studio open. She has just been cleared in the murder of her former fiance Rafe and has started rebuilding her life, professionally and personally, which now includes Rafe's brother Tav as her business partner.
Stacy has some private students, a steady clientele who attend group classes, and has been dancing with her new partner, Vitaly in several competitions and expositions. When dance legend Corinne Blakely is poisoned, one of Stacy's instructors, Maurice, also one of Corinne's ex-husbands, is the prime suspect as he was having lunch with her when she collapsed. Stacy knows Maurice wouldn't harm anyone, even if an Andy Warhol portrait inheritance was part of the deal, and sets out to find someone who would have wanted the diva dead.
Stacy quickly learns that Corrine had a deal to publish her memoirs and was hard at work on an outline, revealing all, and letting those people about whom she was revealing something know. This was opening many wounds and bringing many secrets out into the open, secrets someone was obviously willing to kill to keep hidden. From an obnoxious grandson to a pill-addicted son, multiple ex-husbands and dance rivals, there are many suspects, most with a much better motive for murder than Maurice, though none with the opportunity he had.
Dead Man Waltzing is a quick look into the sometimes glamorous world of international ballroom dancing, with the fancy costumes and smoldering looks, but also with the reality that as physical an activity as it is, many still view it as a pleasant pastime rather than a competitive activity that makes some of its participants very emotional about their work. Stacy is a practical young woman who juggles her professional life, both teaching and performing, with her mother and sister who both have unresolved issues from the past.
Stacy is fiercely protective of Maurice and fearless in her investigation. The murderer and motive are reasonably easy to pick out, though there are several other suspects with believable motives and Stacy doesn't uncover many surprises along the way.
-- Jennifer Monahan Winberry