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on September 8, 2011
A neat, direct little mystery about the reunion -- and presentation of a dance program -- of some hoofers formerly known as The Topettes. It's held at the Cal-Neva casino which actually exists straddling the state line on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. (My husband once won $50 on a dime slot machine there. The dining areas are on the California side, of course, and the gambling on the Nevada side. And there is actually a painted line marking the state line down the bottom of the swimming pool.)

Anyway, there is a mysterious (and unusual) death right off the bat. The casino itself is basically a character in the book including blocked-off tunnels where Sinatra and other Hollywood regulars used to escape their fans and cottages named after the famous people who visited there.

A bit Agatha-like in having the characters all in one locale, although they are not snowed in or trapped. Interesting interaction among all the dancers, but the focus is on Abby, the lead character if not the lead dancer. Middle-aged and single, she prowls around detecting and is also in the early days of a possible romantic relationship with a former L.A. cop who drives an old classic car.

The end was logical and not some author's trick, although I didn't see it coming. All in all, a pleasant read and a nice "trip" to beautiful Lake Tahoe.
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on September 10, 2011
The six former Manhattan Topettes who live near Lake Tahoe are invited to perform a weekend of reunion shows at the Cal Neva Escort Spa and Casino. In their late forties and a quarter of a century since they danced together, Abby, Melanie, Dana, Gail, Blythe and Renee arrive for a precision high kick performance. Coaching the team for the shows is much younger NYC Topettes Teacher Jan Withers.

However, the rivalry between the dancers is as feral as it was twenty five years ago. Lottery winner Melanie retains her superego as the center performer because she is the tallest. Renee hates Melanie for stealing the love of her life Tommy. Business partner Dana has sued Melanie over the lottery winnings. Gail still envies Melanie as the second tallest has done futile stretching exercises to steal the focus point, but remains shorter. Blythe tries to persuade Melanie and the others to sell her health drinks. Driven from California by former cop Blade, Abby is the mother confessor to the group. All hell occurs when someone poisons Melanie and subsequently kills Gail. Although she should allow Detective Fromer to do his job, Abby investigates out of loyalty to her friend Renee, a major suspect.

Fascinatingly, the insight into the lives of the six dancers as former performers makes the investigative thriller stand out. The whodunit is clever as the killer is in plain sight of the stage although Abby's obsessive fueled actions seem over the top of Freel Peak. Still the six antagonists have different personalities and interests as they high kick to the joy of fans their way to a deadly dangerous dance.

Harriet Klausner
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on September 17, 2012
"Timestep to Murder" is an excellent read. Abby Rollins, a Manhattan Toppette in the 70s and 80s, is the central character. Abby tells the story first person. She joins five fellow dancers at Nevada's CalNeva lodge for their 25th reunion. Norma, the author, captures the spirit of the lodge, once the hangout of Fran Sinatra, the Kennedys, and Marilyn Monroe. The story moves along quickly from intriguing page to intriguing page. A must read.
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