Dead on the Dance Floor
Dead on the Dance Floor is a romantic suspense novel set among the world of ballroom dancing. The setting is really the only thing that stands out about the book. Otherwise, it features tepid suspense, an uninvolving mystery and a weak romance. Mostly it’s one thing a suspense tale should never be: boring.
In the dance world, Lara Trudeau was a star. Beloved by some, hated by others, she was a true diva. Shannon Mackay, a dance instructor at the studio Lara works out of, knows just how many enemies the other woman has made. One night, while she’s watching Lara compete in a dance contest, someone comes up to Shannon and whispers, “You’re next.” A few moments later, Lara drops dead on the dance floor.
The death is ruled an accidental overdose, caused by the wrong combination of pills and alcohol. Shannon doesn’t believe it, knowing Lara wouldn’t put drugs into her body. She’s not the only one with doubts. One of her students, a Miami police officer, asks his brother to look into Lara’s death. Quinn O’Casey is a private investigator and former FBI agent. When he learns that one of his cases might be connected to the dance studio, he signs up for classes. Shannon becomes his dance instructor. He knows she’s hiding something. But is she the killer or the next victim?
The story develops reasonably enough. The main characters are given an appropriate amount of substance. Their relationship unfolds in an acceptable manner and their first sexual encounter takes place at a believable point in their romance. There’s a large number of characters to keep the reader guessing about who the killer really is.
On the surface, the story should work. It has all the right ingredients. Instead, the whole thing falls flat. The characters aren’t very compelling or likable, they’re just…fine. There’s not really anything bad to say about them. There’s not really anything to say about them at all. The romance lacks any real passion or emotion and reads completely by the numbers. This is where they’re supposed to start to get closer, so they do. This is where they’re supposed to have sex, so they do. This is where she gets mad at him to drag out the romance, so she does. And so on. When they each told each other, “I am falling in love with you,” I didn’t believe them. Or perhaps more importantly, I didn’t care.
The suspense and mystery are also lacking in, well, suspense and mystery. There’s no real tension or sense of threat present for most of the book. Shannon harps on that “You’re next” comment until she completely runs it into the ground. There are various glimpses of the killer skulking outside her house and studio without actually doing anything for much of the story. The identity of the killer is fairly surprising, only because there’s really no way to tell which of the one-dimensional supporting characters it is. There are so many characters and they’re all so thinly developed it’s hard to keep them straight or to muster enough interest to try.
Dead on the Dance Floor is not a bad book. It’s simply a boring, by-the-numbers one. There’s no real suspense, not enough of a mystery to try and figure out, and no passion in the love story. Overall, this story is more lifeless than any of the corpses that pop up in it.