Amy Patricia Meade
Midnight Ink, Mar 2008, $13.95
It is 1935 and the nation remains buried in the Great Depression, but author Marjorie McClelland and her rich fiancé Creighton Ashcroft barely feel its effects. They are making wedding plans when an interruption comes in the form of a knock on the door. Elizabeth Barnwell, who read about this couple solving two murders (see GHOST OF A CHANCE and MILLION DOLLAR BABY), begs them to find her missing husband Michael who vanished two days ago. They agree to help her; she tells them she found a mysterious key and a piece of paper with an address on it in a pocket of one of his pants.
They go to the address and find the butchered body of a woman whose face is smashed in, and her four extremities cut off. The house belongs to Ronnie Carter and a witness describes her lover as that of Michael. Marjorie and Creighton find him at his parents’’ home where he proclaims his innocence. He is taken to jail. Marjorie learns that the victim’s lover before Michael, Trent Taylor, is now a widower who made a fortune collecting a life insurance payout on his wife’s death. Before she died, Ronnie accused Trent of poisoning his spouse; an autopsy proves his late wife had a deadly amount of arsenic in her system. Case closed except Marjorie thinks someone else has set up Trent, but her sleuthing almost gets her shot.
Since everyone in Ridgebury, Connecticut wants to get involved in the wedding, Marjorie buries herself into the investigation to avoid dealing with definitive decisions that people demand of her. Readers will feel like they are in the middle of a Tracey-Hepburn movie to include campy dialogue, misleading assumptions, and plenty of action. SHADOW WALTZ is a thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery that takes its audience dancing into a bygone era.