In Corday’s (9 ½ Years Behind the Green Door, 2011) fantasy novel, dancers at a San Francisco burlesque theater—some living, some dead—go in search of a mobster’s money.
Alice starts working at the Moulin Rouge with her friend and fellow dancer Deirdre, who’s just confided to her that she’s pregnant and that the club owner’s son, Tommy, is the father. Soon after, Deirdre reveals the pregnancy to Tommy, who eschews responsibility and starts having an affair with a different dancer. An ensuing argument ends with Deirdre losing her footing and falling down a set of stairs, killing her. Later, Alice’s friend Miranda casts a spell of protection on her fellow dancers when the club’s ownership tries to force them into freelance employment. However, the spell has the unexpected effect of conjuring Deirdre’s ghost as well as those of other long-dead dancers. Alice and her new phantom pals soon hatch a plan to go to the Cal Neva Lodge in Tahoe, where they plan to search for Mafia cash hidden there long ago by one of the ghost’s mobster boyfriends. (They plan to open a new club, The Blue Angel, with the loot.) The ghost of Cal Neva’s former owner, Frank Sinatra, haunts the club, and the group later comes face to face with the spirit of Marilyn Monroe. This engaging supernatural adventure will particularly appeal to fans of literature set in the Bay Area, as the characters travel extensively around familiar parts of San Francisco and its environs in Alice’s Volkswagen van. It will also interest those with an enthusiasm for burlesque-theater history. The story is basically split into two sections: the group’s journey to find the Mafia money, and the bureaucratic process of opening up its new nightclub. In both parts, though, Corday makes sure that there’s a lot going on, as the dancers deal with ghost hunters filming a reality show; the return of Alice’s estranged lover; a new ghost friend, checking in on the family that he left behind; a break-in at Alice’s house; and even a lost cat.
An eventful and enjoyable romp.