After her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Billie Levine revamped her grandfather’s private investigation firm and set up shop in the corner booth of her favourite North Jersey deli hoping the free pickles and flexible hours would allow her to take care of her mom and pay the bills. So when Tommy Russo, a rich kid with a nasty drug habit, offers her a stack of cash to find his missing girlfriend, how can she refuse? At first, Billie thinks this will be easy earnings, but then her missing person’s case turns into a murder investigation and Russo is the detective bureau’s number one suspect.
Suddenly Billie is embroiled in a deadly gang war that’s connected to the decades-old disappearance of a famous cabaret dancer with ties to both an infamous Jewish mob and a skinhead group. Toss in the reappearance of Billie’s hunky ex-boyfriend with his own rap sheet, and she is regretting every decision that got her to this point.
Becoming a P.I. was supposed to solve her problems. But if Billie doesn’t crack this case, the next body the police dredge out of the Hudson River will be hers.
Firstly kind thanks to Caroline at Datura Books for kindly sending me a copy of Death of a Dancing Queen.
From the very first chapter of Death of A Dancing Queen, I was hooked! The novel opens with a brutal murder in 1991, that sets the scene for a gritty, smart and dark thriller that had me absolutely gripped.
Billie Levine is a Private Investigator working for her grandfather’s Agency, she’s not qualified yet but that does not put her off. When she is hired by a local gangster to help find evidence to defend his son Tommy, whose girlfriend was found murdered in a garage where he works, Billie throws herself into the investigation.
I adored Billie, she is tough, smart and at times funny! Her powers of investigation are excellent and she comes across as a natural investigator, her mind just works that way. She gets herself into danger during the investigation and there are some hairy moments, and throughout all of this, we have the background of her and her Brother David trying to care for their Mum who has Early Onset Alzheimers. I loved that in Death Of A Dancing Queen we got to see Billie in her home life and the struggles of looking after someone with Alzheimer’s encounters, it is very well researched and really sat extremely well with the rest of the novel.
The cast of characters was superbly well written, Kim Giarratano is obviously someone who studies people as she has been able to bring a great cast to life within the pages. I did at times find it a little confusing, but I went back and actually write the characters down which helped me, this is not a criticism as it’s probably just me!
There are lots of references to the Jewish faith and culture, as Billie’s family are Jewish, and I found this very interesting, I learnt a lot, which I always find a bonus when reading a novel.
I loved Death Of A Dancing Queen, the way it’s written is almost like one of those old 1950s crime movies I used to watch on a Saturday Afternoon with my mum, but there are emotional scenes and humour thrown in as well. This was a totally refreshing read and a novel that stands out in the crime fiction genre.
A fabulous 5 stars from me, and I cannot wait for book 2!
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