No more quarrelsome faculty meetings for ex-Prof. Juliet Bodine (she left her job when she became a successful writer of Regency romances), and no domestic entanglements either (she’s divorced and childless). Her idea of a crisis is her friend Ruth Renswick’s need for her to come by the Jansch Repertory Company’s studios, where Ruth is having the devil of a time with the choreography for her new ballet, Great Expectations. So Juliet stops in to offer suggestions, but it’s never quite clear why she continues to hang around after Anton Mohr, the young German phenom dancing Pip, takes a suspicious fall—suspicious at least to listen to the company gossip. And Juliet’s brief is made no more credible when her old Harvard friend Murray Landis, an art student who’s now the detective in charge of the case, tells her that if she thinks Anton’s death after an equally suspicious drug incident was murder, then she’s going to have to prove it herself—just the advice your old buddies in the NYPD would give you. Nothing undaunted, though, Juliet observes alternate Pip Hart Hayden, his partner Elektra Andreades, imperious ballet mistress Victorine Vaillancourt, and half a dozen other backstage types, and reports her findings in time for Landis to decline action and the ballet to premiere before the denouement.
The torpid exposition, waxwork characters, and mild mystery never upstage the serene sense of class entitlement Pall (Among the Ginzburgs, 1996, etc.) is retailing. Readers with no taste for Terpsichore may want to wait for the promised series featuring each of her eight sister Muses.