Posted By Susan Bernhardt

"With her new book, A Manhattan Murder Mystery, Susan Bernhardt, author of the Kay Driscoll series, grand jetés into the stratosphere.

A Manhattan Murder revolves about a retired ballerina, Irina Curtius, who lives in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and owns a dance academy where she teaches ballet to young children.

Bernhardt’s prose flows gracefully like a ballerina in perpetual motion. Her scenes at the academy are so realistic, a reader can almost hear a Beethoven or Chopin melody in the background, guiding the steps of the young dancers. The playing belongs to Jerome, a pianist, who has been Irina’s friend since her college days.

Unbeknownst to Irina, Jerome arranges a reunion with one of Irina’s past loves. The encounter rekindles emotions Irina thought she had squelched long ago. Can she trust Robert, who once had walked out on her when he felt her career was more important that their relationship? Had he changed all that much? Was he really in town to be with her.

When Irina and Robert attend a performance of Swan Lake at the State Theatre, a scene arresting for its visual and emotional impact, Bernhardt explores feelings of love and betrayal, which lies at the core of the ballet and parallels Irina’s emotions in her personal life. Will she end up like Odette, the tragic heroine in Tchaikovsky’s romantic ballet?

As she continues to question her future with Robert, one of Irina’s neighbors dies under mysterious circumstances. Irina suspects foul play and decides to investigate and bring the killer to justice, which she does with the help of a mystery man, who appears in Irina’s life and turns out to be far from a stranger. By introducing this character--whose identity Bernhardt's doesn't reveal until the latter part of the book--she adds a layer of intrigue that has become the author's trademark. In her successful Kay Driscoll series, for example, particularly in The Ginseng Conspiracy, Bernhardt's uses unexpected plot twists to create a mountain of suspense that never crumbles until the end, a technique that reminds this reader of Agatha Christie's works, most notably, And Then There Were None.

After all is said and done, and the final curtain comes down on this delightful cozy dance, I envision Irina and Bernhardt taking their bows in front of an appreciative audience of readers. Bravi! Bravi! Encore!"

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