The Dancing Girls – M.M. Chouinard | @m_m_chouinard @Bookouture

The light in her wide brown eyes dimmed as she drew her last breath. She might have been beautiful lying there on the floor, if it wasn’t for the purple marks on her neck and the angry red line on her finger where her wedding band used to be…

When Jeanine Hammond is found dead in a hotel in the picture-perfect town of Oakhust, newly-promoted Detective Jo Fournier is thrown into a disturbing case. Who would murder this shy, loving wife and leave her body posed like a ballerina?

Jo wants to know why Jeanine’s husband is so controlling about money, and where Jeanine’s wedding ring is, but before she and her team can get close to the truth, another woman is found strangled in a hotel, arms placed gracefully above her head like a dancer.

While digging through old case files, Jo makes a terrifying link to a series of cold cases: each victim bears the same strangulation marks. But the FBI won’t take Jo seriously, and if she disobeys direct orders by investigating the killings outside of her jurisdiction, it will mean the end of the career she’s already sacrificed so much for, even her relationship.

Just as Jo is beginning to lose hope, she finds messages on the victims’ computers that make her question whether these small-town women were hiding big lies. Jo thinks this is the missing link between the victims, but she knows the killer is moments away from selecting his next victim. Will it lead her to the most twisted killer of her career in time, or will another innocent life be lost? 

An absolutely unputdownable and brilliant new crime thriller series that fans of Robert Dugoni, Lisa Regan and Melinda Leigh will devour in one sitting.

The Dancing Girls was published on the 15th May 2019 by Bookouture. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book via NetGalley and for inviting me onto this blog tour.

The Dancing Girls is the first in a new police procedural series featuring Detective Jo Fournier and its looking as though its going to be a good one!

Whilst this is a new series, the book manages the balance between the investigation itself and introducing its main characters very well. Sometimes the start of a series can be more about introductions and lacking in the actual investigation but that’s not the case here – as shown from the first chapter! The book opens in 2012 with the murder of Jeanine Hammond which holds no punches.

Jo has recently been promoted to Lieutenant and is the lead in the case. Jeanine leads a relatively mundane life with her husband, that is until she is found dead in a hotel room after travelling for a work conference. It’s a very clean murder scene with no obvious clues, no sign of a disturbance or sexual assault and nothing missing….other than a wedding ring. When another woman is found in similar circumstances, the team start to think they have a serial killer on their hands but don’t know how or why.

The book is told from various points of views; Jo, the victims and the killer. I found it fascinating (and disturbing) being able to get to know the killer, the reasons behind the murders, how the victims are chosen and drawn into his world. In terms of the mode of victim selection, there are various technicalities, some of which are clarified but there are others that are not which I didn’t completely ‘get’ but that didn’t detract from the overall narrative (being deliberately vague but when you read it, you will know what I’m referring to!).

When the book opens with a murder you know it’s going to be a fast-paced one, The Dancing Girls keeps that pace brilliantly and is gripping through to the end. There are some interesting twists and turns.

As the reader is privy to the mind of the killer, it also makes for a frustrating read (in a good way!) because as the police are at a loss as to the killer’s MO, the reader is practically screaming answers to them!! It seems so obvious when you know what the killer is doing 😊

I thoroughly enjoyed this first book and look forward to the next investigation for Jo!

M.M. Chouinard’s first fiction story was published in her local paper when she was eight, and she fell in love with Agatha Christie novels not long after. While pursuing a Ph.D in psychology and helping to found the first U.S. research university of the new millenium, the stories kept rattling around inside her skull, demanding to come out. For sanity’s sake, she released them. She’s currently at work on her seventh novel.

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