|A high school prom turns tragic when the body of Carrie Sommers is found dead the next morning in the parking lot, still in her prom finery, laid out in a tableau Sheriff Sharyn Howard recognizes and finds very disturbing. While Sharyn is a recently elected sheriff, her now deceased father held the post ten years ago when another prom queen was found laid out in a similar manor, murdered by the same method.
Sharyn doesn’t know if Carrie’s death is the work of a copycat killer or if the man convicted of the earlier crime, and days away from being executed, is innocent. If he is innocent, why has the killer lain in wait for ten years before striking again? Struggling with not wanting to besmirch her father’s memory, but not wanting an innocent man to die, Sharyn works against the clock to convince officials that the earlier case should be reopened because the similarities in Carrie’s murder are too numerous to ignore.
The premise of The Last Dance is a very interesting one, but loses something in its execution. Sharyn is supposed to be racing against the clock to save a man’s life but a sense of urgency is lacking. Also lacking is an inquiry into why the killer may have waited ten years, perhaps checking other murders on prom night in the area or even state or nationally. Adding to this deadline are Sharyn’s conflicted feelings of investigating her father’s closed case and the feeling of needing to prove herself as a newly elected, young, female sheriff.
None of the characters is very well developed and there is, unfortunately, very little empathy for Carrie Sommers and her family. Her character is never developed, though it would need to be done anecdotally or in flashbacks, and she doesn’t seem like a real young woman, just an unfortunate victim. A disgruntled medical examiner could also have been used more. The solution to the murderers is fairly obvious and Sharyn’s preparing to attend her high school reunion adds confusion to the plot rather than carrying out the high school theme.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry