Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is back at Treemeadow College directing their Nutcracker Ballet co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and their best friend and department head, Martin Anderson. With muscular dance students and faculty in the cast, the Christmas tree on stage isn’t the only thing rising. When cast members drop faster than their loaded dance belts, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is cracking the Nutcracker’s nuts, trapping the Mouse King, and being cavalier with the Cavalier, before Nicky and Noah end up stuck in the Land of the Sweets. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining eighth novel in this delightful series.
Take your seats. The curtain is going up on the Fairy—Sugar Plum that is, clumsy mice, malfunctioning toys, and murder!
With Drama Dance (Nicky and Noah Mystery #8) by Joe Cosentino we’re into the eighth book of the series and the high camp edge this author rides between drama and comedy doesn’t seem as sharp here as it has in previous novels. And I’m so sorry to say that as big a fan as I am of this series. Having all the characters back on familiar ground such as Treemeadow College should work to ground them further in family and friends. And it does to a point.
Yet, what is familiar can also become route. I understand that the author uses some of the same descriptions because of new readers to the series and therefore, to this story. But to those of us that have followed it faithfully, some elements within the series and story just aren’t working, for me at any rate.
I guess first and foremost is the fact that even now at book eight, their son Taavi is still referred to as their adopted son Taavi. Maybe it’s just me, but you’d think that would have been dropped by now, or that the adoption reference come up less frequently. Or, the fact that,if the author wanted to clue new readers into Taavi’s history, brought up in a fresh way. But no. And since I’m on a roll here, the less than flattering name of the poor adopted grandchild from friends of the MC’s parents often used as a “humor element”. Not funny. Again, just my opinion. But unintentionally or not (and Im sure in this author’s case it’s not), it smacks of racism.
Two of my favorite characters within this series has always been the bickering older professor/husband duo of Martin and Ruben. I am deeply fond of these two and their relationship. They bicker sharply, lovingly, and their dialog is some of my favorites in the past stories and series. And like everyone else in the novels, they have aged, getting older to the point that now it’s getting poignant. And in the case of one secondary character who wants one out of his position, quite mean. Probably realistic Again there’s that line.
Are you as an author going tor realistic drama or high camp? I’m not sure you can have both in this case or in this story.
I liked the idea of The Nutcracker as a vehicle for the players. It should have worked as a perfect foil for high camp and delicious lines. But again somehow…even the nutcracker jokes were just a little off. The dynamics between Nicky and the local detective seemed flat whereas they always had a certain tension between them before. The villain and his capture? It all seemed a bit familiar, as though it came from a killer and plot a few stories earlier.
Maybe a trip to America’s farmland is needed for them all. Cheese, grandparents, and all that. Or New Jersey.
I don’t know what the author has planned next for this series but if you are new to the characters and setting, start at the beginning. You’ll find there the sheer joie de vivre that made me a fan to begin with.
Cover art is wonderful. Vibrant, alive, a sure eye catcher!
Sales Links: Amazon