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Tutu Deadly by Natalie M. Roberts
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0425214869
Date: 03 April, 2007 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Natalie M. Roberts takes the reader on a humor-filled romp in her new Jenny T. Partridge mystery Tutu Deadly. To call Jenny's life style unconventional doesn't do justice to the colorful enemies and friends who complicate her life as she struggles to find a missing young dancer and the killer of the girl's mother. Relatives determined to marry Jenny off, a gay man using her as camouflage, ambitious dance moms, and amorous police detectives vie with one another to complicate her life the most.

Living a hand-to-mouth existence, Jenny's financial future depends on her dance academy's annual performance of the Nutcracker. Events conspire to make that impossible. The mother of the lead dancer is killed with poisoned cookie dough Jenny sold to raise money for the event and the daughter, the lead dancer, disappears. Police suspect Jenny when another dance mom tells them Jenny delivered the cookie dough herself. Unable to prove the woman a liar, Jenny tries to search the crime scene only to be attacked and knocked unconscious. She wakes to find a police detective holding a gun on her. The handsome cop's suspicions rile her, but his to-die-for looks send her senses into a spin.

Jenny even manages to offend Mormon elders when visiting missionaries eat some of the cookie dough that mysteriously appears in her freezer and have to have their stomachs pumped. Luckily for all, the dough isn't poisoned. Forced to recall the dough and refund the money for all that had been sold, Jenny faces financial ruin. Only an unexpected loan from an unlikely source saves the day.

Events continue to escalate. Someone attacks Jenny outside her apartment. Her costume supplier goes berserk Then a small bomb explodes in the basement of the building housing the dance academy and the fire marshal condemns it leaving her no where to hold rehearsals. Her gay friend lets his mother announce his engagement to Jenny.

Meanwhile, Jenny struggles with her growing attraction to the police officer and to a federal marshal also involved in the case, the search for the missing lead dancer, dance moms vying to obtain the Sugar Plum Fairy role for their daughters, lack of money, hunger, and general mayhem. With the help of Marlys, a school bus driver, and Alissa Miller, a police dispatcher, she muddles through. Someone fires shots at Jenny's apartment and she, Marlys, and the two Mormon missionaries take a wild ride on a school bus through town to escape a silver Hummer in hot pursuit.

Grit and humor propel Jenny ahead. Roberts handles a variety of unrelated threads to create a fun read. While she occasionally stretches credibility, it doesn't completely snap. The use of mild profanity occurs throughout, but won't bother most readers. Berkley has scheduled another Jenny T. Partridge mystery for a fall release, so look for Tapped Out then. Roberts, a member of the Internet Writing Workshop, has also written and published several novels with different publishers under the name Natalie R. Collins.

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