I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the prior two novels in Cristelle Comby's series, so when Tribute Books contacted me about reviewing the third, I jumped at the chance. Plus, as a former ballet dancer myself, the cover intrigued me with where the case would lead. Hmmm...
So with no further wondering, let's get started.
Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.
To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.
Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...
From the outset, I have to tell you that of the three novels released thus far in the Neve & Egan Cases, Danse Macabre is my favorite. The characters have gelled together as a team and have each come into their own as individuals as they've faced their own demons. The case they find themselves on this time is also much deeper, darker, and more complex.
And we all know I like deep, dark, and complex.
Alexandra Neve (Lexa to her friends) and Ashford Egan (who has few friends) are coming to the close of their first year as a private investigative team with twenty-four solved cases. As winter sets in upon the streets of London, their most horrific and gruesome case comes home to roost.
A desperate mother has nowhere else to turn after the overworked Metropolitan Police Department classifies the case involving her missing daughter as a simple runaway. But why would a young twenty-something dancer, with the world waiting to worship at her talented and pointe-shoe clad feet, run away when everything is so right with her world? The mother is convinced something more sinister is afoot and hires Lexa and Ash to discover the truth and bring her daughter home.
When Lexa's budding relationship with DS Matthew Stenson reveals connections to other kidnappings and murders, she realizes they have a serial killer on their hands - and her client's daughter may just be the next victim. Thus our reluctant duo trudge through the snowdrifts of London and into the underbelly of life beneath the streets in search of a kidnapper, racing against the clock before time runs out on the life of a starlet.
All the while, they've got someone on the force working overtime to foil their efforts - and the Sorter reveals his hand once again.
In Danse Macabre we once again have a stand-alone novel of mystery and intrigue. The bringing forward of just enough information from the previous novels, and how Lexa and Ash developed the unlikely friendship of university student and professor turned PI team, provided appropriate background for any new readers coming into the series without bogging pacing down. However, I still recommend reading the Neve & Egan Cases from the start just because it is a wonderful little series (Russian Dolls, Ruby Heart). There is also a tiny thread woven as a continuum, hanging out along the periphery throughout the stories - the mysterious Sorter. Also, there is something that occurs at the end of this novel that will make you want to read the next - this was new to the series, but now I'm dying to know what transpired (though I have my suspicions already).
We also find out additional information in our characters' backgrounds - particularly Ash, the cantankerous, middle-aged former university professor whose blindness becomes particularly useful for discerning the lies surrounding this case. With Ash having left the security of his university position in book two, he's now much more involved in the day-to-day of each case - and I liked that because one of my complaints about book two was that there was little of Ash's involvement with that case. Now that they're both working the business full-time, it's also added a new and fun layer to their interactions - a great repartee that adds some laugh-out-loud humor to this novel that was not present in the first two. This element was fabulous, refreshing, and added twinges of lighthearted moments necessary to keep this much darker case somewhat balanced.
Pacing moved along at a steady (heart-pounding at times) clip and, as mentioned above, these characters really came into their own within the pages of this particular novel. Good showing instead of telling, with first person point-of-view once again from Lexa's continual perspective. There were only a few instances of missing small words, unnecessary commas, and one incorrect word used (rapport instead of report), but these were not enough to detract from the story.
Content warnings: There are few concerns with this series, usually just your typical few curse words, so it's appropriate for all teens in that regard. However, this particular novel contained some particularly gruesome murder scene details that might cause a few nightmares. No sex, drug use, or anything else some might consider offensive.
Like I mentioned, Danse Macabre is my favorite thus far in this mystery series - for that I'll give it a rare five stars.
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Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where
Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.
She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.
Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series. Visit her website at http://cristelle-comby.com/
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