Death Dance is the 8th book Linda Fairstein's series featuring Alexander Cooper. This was my third outing with Alex Cooper, having read a couple of the early books in the series sometime ago, and it was particularly interesting to see where the series had gone in the intervening years.
Alex is an Assistant District Attorney, working in the sex crime division, passionately devoted to her job and to the victims she sees herself as representing. Teamed up firstly with long-time friend Mercer Wallace, they are investigating the drugging rape of two visiting Canadian girls, when called to a missing prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Natalya Galinova after first being listed as officially missing, is eventually found brutally killed in the backstage area of the Opera House. Alex and Mercer team up with Mike Chapman, the third member of a group of long-time friends and colleagues, to investigate the murder. They do this in and around the backstage of the Opera House and amongst some powerful players in the New York theatre world.
Along with these two major investigations, the NY Police are also trying to track down a serial rapist who is attacking women in local parks.
The central plot regarding the death of the ballerina takes most of the focus in the book and, aside from Alex having a life long love of ballet, it was never really clear why a sex-crime prosecutor would be involved so closely in the non-sex related death of Galinova. The investigation of the death proceeds very slowly, intertwined with some interesting aspects of the Opera House, theatre venues in New York and with a cast of "theatre types" both management and talent. There is an unfortunate inconsistency in some of that follow-up which dragged me right out of the story and some fem-jep towards the end which really seemed too convenient. Meanwhile, the investigation into the rape of the two Canadian girls proceeds quickly and a suspect is easily identified. The resolution of that crime is less satisfactory from Alex's point of view, but could have struck a strong chord of reality if the final page dramatic climax had been avoided. The rapist in the park is also resolved but again, the methodology used is a little out of the blue and the plot line never really got much focus throughout the book.
One of the strengths of this book is the long-term relationship between the three investigators. They know each other well and have been through a lot together. The references to previous events, presumably from earlier books, are quite easy to assimilate and give a real feeling for the long-term friendship.
The rather crowded plot; the inexplicable actions in a sub-part of the ballerina's death; a glaring piece of fem-jep which seemed rather unnecessary, and a final "rapping up" of absolutely every loose end on all the sub-plots on the final pages of the book detracted. For me, this was an interesting read, but not one of my all-time favourites from this author.